Case Study #3Maria’s Story


Age, gender, demographics (ethnicity, sexual identity), living situation

  • Female, high school student, 17 years old. Very bright. Undocumented

How victim was recruited/trafficking:

Maria was at the local mall when she met a couple of guys. She believed they were her age. She “hooked” up with one guy who was helping her out financially. He soon showed her how she could make money by just “hanging’ out with his friends.


Maria was a senior in high school. She was hoping to go to college but she was undocumented so finding money had been a challenge. She had spent a great deal of time in the counseling office searching through scholarships that she might be eligible for. Suddenly, she stopped coming. Her school counselor tried to call her out of class to check in but she was often absent. Her friends reported that she had become extremely secretive and went out all of the time but never with them.

Her close friend disclosed to the school counselor that she had figured out a way to make some quick money to pay for some of the college fees. Unfortunately, once she started “hooking up” with people she wasn’t really allowed to stop. She was being told that her family would find out and she didn’t want that to happen.


Maria was accepted into a number of schools, she choose an out of state college with the hopes of having a “fresh” start.

Discussion for Case Studies:

  1. What were some of the victim’s vulnerabilities?
  2. How did the sex trafficker exploit those vulnerabilities?
  3. What changes happened in the victim’s life?
  4. Who in the victim’s life should have noticed these changes? What could they have done?
  5. What were the missed opportunities to prevent this victim’s sex trafficking experiences?
  6. If there is no resolution: how many different ways could this story end?
  7. How could this victim’s peers have noticed these changes? Who could they have told?
  8. If this student came to your school, how can the students support them?
  9. If this student came to your school, how can the staff support them?
  10. How can you as a class, help develop awareness about sex trafficking and prevent more victimization?