This study describes the characteristics of sexually exploited minors (SEM) by building a body of knowledge around SEM in the larger community. The data collected for this project represent 113 youth ranging in age from 10 to 24 and receiving services at nine service providers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Situating the youths’ experience within the framework of complex trauma, we illustrate how their characteristics and behaviors are adaptations to trauma and symptomatic of ongoing abuse. More than 75% of the youth in this study experienced child abuse or neglect, with most experiencing multiple episodes of trauma and family disruptions that leave them vulnerable to exploitation. Most (84%) have problems with judgment that place them at risk of significant physical harm, including severe substance use (31%) and frequent episodes of running away from home (62%)
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