Between Bond and Bondage: Portrayal of Human Trafficking Survivors in Publication

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Human trafficking is a current interdisciplinary, social issue across the globe that is being highly researched with an industry worth of $150 billion. It continues to be highly profitable today. Traffickers employ a range of methods of recruitment, threat, and profit to manipulate others into danger. In examining the challenges faced by human trafficking victims alongside primary first and second-hand accounts of human trafficking survivors, this project entails a content analysis of representations of survivors of human trafficking on the internet. The study analyzes popular media, news and social representations of human trafficking on the internet, including Google and Yahoo!, resulting in 23 sources to be analyzed. In texts of human trafficking, these articles start to follow a consistent narrative structure that include key elements: vulnerability, lure, abuse, leverage, and escape. There is a formulaic structure to these human trafficking accounts, and methodology that their purpose is a common conclusion to the article that can be told through the perspective in forms of reflection, accomplishment, and advocacy. The objective place it has taken as a transnational and complex issue in society has showcased the yearning for kinship we each have, and through these survivors’ account, they are able to discuss the dynamic relationship between the challenges they face in the process of their human trafficking experience. These stories omit the process of healing and recovery from traumatic experiences, adapting back to normality, and greater discussions on humanity, further creating a gap of knowledge in the reader’s ability to emotionally connect to the text. Because of these recurring narrative structures becoming so recognizable and normalized to readers in adapted Western culture, the human connection between writers and readers regarding this personal human experience is weakened.


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