Informing Human Trafficking Clinical Care Through Two Systematic Reviews on Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence

Blaine Menon, Hanni Stoklosa, Kaylee Van Dommelen, Adam Awerbuch, Luke Caddell, Ken Roberts, Jonell Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: There is a lack of evidence on the clinical management of patients who have suffered human trafficking. Synthesizing the evidence from similar patient populations may provide valuable insight. This review summarizes findings on therapeutic interventions for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV). Method: We conducted two systematic reviews using the MEDLINE database. We included only randomized controlled trials of therapies with primary outcomes related to health for survivors of sexual assault and IPV. For the sexual assault review, there were 78 abstracts identified, 16 full-text articles reviewed, and 10 studies included. For the IPV review, there were 261 abstracts identified, 24 full-text articles reviewed, and 17 studies included. Analysis compared study size, intervention type, patient population, primary health outcomes, and treatment effect. Results: Although our search included physical and mental health outcomes, almost all the studies meeting inclusion and exclusion criteria focused on mental health. The interventions for sexual assault included spiritually focused group therapy, interference control training, image rehearsal therapy, sexual revictimization prevention, educational videos, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy. The interventions in the IPV review included group social support therapy, exposure therapy, empowerment sessions, physician counseling, stress management programs, forgiveness therapy, motivational interviewing, and interpersonal psychotherapy. Conclusions: Insights from these reviews included the importance of culturally specific group therapy, the central role of survivor empowerment, and the overwhelming focus on mental health. These key features provide guidance for the development of interventions to improve the health of human trafficking survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)932-945
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • human trafficking
  • intimate partner violence
  • mental health
  • sexual assault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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