Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jennie Burnet

Second Advisor

Cassandra White

Third Advisor

Kathryn A. Kozaitis


The challenges faced by survivors of trafficking are harsh and devastating. Service providers in the anti-trafficking movement also face obstacles, as they navigate through systemic inequities and other barriers. Through ethnographic research, I interviewed trafficking survivors and service providers in order to try to understand and amplify the stories about the challenges they face. By doing so, I explore reframing rites of passage, as it operates within a framework that I suggest includes the concept of “cruel optimism”. As themes emerged, it became evident that survivors and service providers both battle uncontrollable factors within systems, inadequate social services, inflexibility of services, transient services, and a rigid anti-trafficking movement that limits growth and positive change. While there are tangible recommendations, there is also an overarching need for a space for grace and reframing survivorship. Empathy is the key to moving toward such compassionate frameworks that may make tangible recommendations possible.


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Available for download on Wednesday, June 04, 2025