Celia Williamson is an American University of Toledo Professor of Social Work and Criminal Justice and researcher, as well as community advocate who seeks to combat domestic human trafficking and prostitution.
Williamson is the Founder of the Second Chance program, Co-Chair of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, Chair of the Research and Analysis State Trafficking Commission, and Founder of the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
She has written extensively on issues of domestic minor sex trafficking and adult prostitution in the U.S.
- Community work and activism
Williamson has organized an annual International Human Trafficking, Prostitution and Sex Work Conference at the University of Toledo since 2004. She also chairs the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, which includes local criminal justice, social service, and health care agencies, along with businesses, university members, churches, citizens, and adult survivors, and the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force. In 1993, Williamson founded Second Chance, an organization that develops individualized service plans for women and children survivors and victims in Toledo, Ohio.
Williamson has also been active in advocating for legislation surrounding sex trafficking on a state level. She supported Ohio Senate Bill 235, which implemented stricter penalties for sex traffickers and better protection for trafficked and exploited victims. She is a vocal advocate of the currently proposed Ohio Senate Bill 262 – or “Safe Harbor” legislation – which would prevent Ohio from treating victims of child sex trafficking as criminals.
The majority of Williamson’s research is conducted in the Toledo and surrounding Ohio community. Her research has focused on examining victims’ experiences, as well as to better understand how children and women are forced or coerced into the sex trade and the role of the trafficker.
In February 2010, Williamson, in conjunction with the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, published research about the prominence of the child sex trade in Ohio under then Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. According to the results, 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade in Ohio every year and about 800 immigrants are sexually exploited and pushed into sweatshop-type jobs. The report cited Ohio’s weak laws on human trafficking, its growing demand for cheap labor, and its proximity to the Canadian border as key contributors to the illegal activity.
Her 2010 study, entitled “Exiting Prostitution: An Integrated Model,” focused specifically on the challenges encountered by women attempting to exit the commercial sex industry. Her 2009 study, “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: A Network of Underground Players in the Midwest” explored women’s experiences with: (a) violence, (b) HIV risks and condom use, (c) emotional and physical health, (d) substance use, (e) home life and street life, and (f) experiences with local 130 systems including the juvenile justice system, the social service system, and the health care system. A 2002 study by Williamson entitled “Pimp-Controlled Prostitution” focused on understanding the traditional pimp-prostitute relationship through qualitative research.
Awards and recognitions
In 2009, Williamson was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame for her work on sex trafficking and prostitution issues throughout Ohio. In 2009, Second Chance, founded by Williamson, received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for its efforts.
Dalla, R., Baker, L., DeFrain, J., & Williamson, C. (Eds.) (2011). The Prostitution of Women, Men and Children: Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Oceania. Landham MD: Lexington Publishers, Inc.
Dalla, R., Baker, L., DeFrain, J., & Williamson, C. (2011). The Prostitution of Women, Men and Children: North America, Latin America, Europe, and Global. Landham MD: Lexington Publishers, Inc.
Karadinkar, S. & Williamson, C. (2011). Report on the prevalence of human trafficking in Ohio to Attorney General Richard Cordray. Trends in Organized Crime. 13, 192-218
Baker, L., Dalla, R., & Williamson, C., (2010). Exiting Prostitution: An Integrated Model. Violence Against Women, 16(5), 579-600
Williamson, C., & Baker, L. (2009). Women in street based prostitution: A Typology of their work styles. Qualitative Social Work 8(1), 27-44.
Williamson, C. & Prior, M. (2009). Domestic minor sex trafficking: A network of underground players in the Midwest. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 2:1, 46-61.
Williamson, C. & Baker, L. (2008). Helping victims of prostitution and trafficking: It takes a community. Group Work 18(3), 8-27
Baker, L. & Williamson, C., (2008). Prostitute Women Leaving the Streets: An Analysis of Their Accounts Using the Role Exit Model. Submitted (Under Peer Review)
Williamson, C., Baker, L., Jenkins, M. & Cluse-Tolar, T. (2007). Police-Prostitute Interactions: Sometimes Discretion, Sometimes Misconduct. Journal of Progressive Human Services. Vol. 18(2)
Williamson, C. (2005). Violence against women in street level prostitution: Women centered community responses. Journal of Advancing Women in Leadership
Williamson, C. & Folaron, G. (2002). Understanding the experiences of street level prostitutes. Qualitative Social Work, (2)3, 271-287.
Williamson, C. & Cluse-Tolar, T. (2002). Pimp-controlled prostitution: Still an integral part of street life. Violence Against Women, 8(9), 1075-1093.
Williamson, C. & Folaron, G. (2001). Violence, risk and survival strategies of street prostitution. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 23(5), 463-475.
Williamson, C. (2007). Decriminalization of prostitution. Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Williamson, C. (2007). Abolitionist approach to prostitution. Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Williamson, C. (2006) Review of the Book Listening to Olivia: Violence, Poverty and Prostitution, Journal of the National Women’s Studies Association, Volume 18(1)
Baker, L. & Williamson, C. (2005). [Review of the Book: Sex trafficking: The global market in women and children]. Violence Against Women, 11.
Williamson, C. & Cluse-Tolar, T. (2008) Pimp-controlled prostitution: Still and integral part of street life. In P. Adler & P. Adler (Ed.) Constructions of Deviance, Wadsworth Publishing: Belmont, CA (Reprint from an earlier version)
Williamson, C. (2005). Appalachian women and poverty: Work in the underground economy. In Englehardt, E. Race, Class, Gender and Mountains: Voices of Appalachian Women. Ohio University Press. Book Chapter.
- "Eighth annual sex trafficking conference hosted at UT - The Independent Collegian - University of Toledo". The Independent Collegian. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Human trafficking expert to speak in Marblehead | Our Lady of the Lake Deanery Diocese of Toledo Ohio". Catholicchronicle.org. 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "About Us". Secondchancetoledo.org. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Ohio lawmakers, others focusing on curbing sex trafficking". Daytondailynews.com. 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Study: Ohio at Center of Child Sex Trade". CBS News. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
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- "Violence Against Women". Theprojectx.org. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
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- "Pimp-Controlled Prostitution". Pineforge.com. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- "Professor inducted into hall of fame - News - The Independent Collegian - University of Toledo". The Independent Collegian. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "FBI — Cleveland, OH". Fbi.gov. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
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