Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Janet Chang


There are different reasons why women enter the sex industry; many of them were sexually abused as children and have been psychologically deceived, which is indicative of their vulnerable state and complex needs. Today, many studies show that the amount of women involved in sex work continues to rise. As a result more strip clubs have surfaced in the United States, and more and more females continue to obtain employment from these adult establishments. The purpose of this study is to get more information about the recovery process for women who have exited the sex industry. The methods used for this study were qualitative in-depth interviews with ex sex workers. Six participants were recruited through a snowball method, and after interviews were recorded, they were transcribed and analyzed using Grounded Theory Approach.

The findings indicated that sexual abuse, and drug and alcohol abuse had been experienced at very high rates by women in the sex industry. The findings also revealed that the participants in study displayed a great amount of resiliency, as five out of six participants had obtained higher education degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level after exiting the sex industry. In addition, the study found that there was a serious lack of social services being offered to this population of women, which if offered services, women transitioning out of the sex industry could have benefited from mental health services, housing, and career planning. In the area of policy recommendations, social work school students and faculty are encouraged to advocate for classes on sexuality to prepare students to deal effectively with sexual abuse and sex workers, considering we are in a time where more women earn a living by working in the sex industry. It is also recommended that social workers develop ways to reach out to this disenfranchised population.