Why the NCOSE Research Institute?

As alarming as these facts are, statistics like those above can seem cold and sterile. Big numbers equal big crushing problems, the size of which can stop us from taking action before we even begin.Yet behind each number are people whose lives are forever changed by the harms they have experienced. Can they escape and find safety? Will they be heard, and get the help they need? Will they be able to recover, and go on to live healthy and productive lives? Will their abusers be stopped and punished? What resources and strategies are needed to more effectively reach and support victims and catch offenders?

The answers to these questions vary widely from person to person. But in addition to identifying and supporting victims and apprehending offenders after these abuses have occurred, we must also seek to dismantle the systems that generate sexual harm.

So, casting our vision further, we see that families and institutions like schools, corporations, communities of faith, and law enforcement agencies are struggling—and too often failing—to respond to deeply entrenched forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. Overwhelmed and ill-equipped in their search for solutions to the tide of sexual victimization around them, it becomes only too easy to accept the problem as status quo and respond to each case the best they can, or to look the other way and take no action at all.

We believe that effective efforts effectively respond to widespread sexual abuse and exploitation—in all its forms—require specialized knowledge that doesn’t look away from the problem and isn’t satisfied with only understanding how and why people and institutions behave in ways that inflict sexual harm. The movement to end sexual abuse and exploitation needs evidence-based solutions that move us from addressing immediate needs and basic research, to holistic solutions that prevent victimization before it begins.

This is why we have formed a team of experts to harness the power of objective data and methods to not only to inform, but to help impacted individuals, communities, and policymakers identify and advance the best evidence-based solutions to prevent and eradicate the web of sexual abuse and exploitation.

What We Do?

We conduct analysis, develop educational programs and resources, identify evidence-based practices, as well as design and collaborate in empirical, applied research projects to build individual, institutional, and public policy solutions to eradicate the web of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Our areas of focus include a wide-ranging yet interrelated array of topics including, but not limited to:

  • child sexual abuse
  • child-on-child harmful sexual behavior
  • sexual objectification
  • image-based sexual abuse
  • sexual harassment and assault
  • compulsive sexual behaviors
  • the public health hazards of pornography
  • stripping
  • prostitution
  • sex trafficking of adults and children
  • demand for sexual abuse and exploitation
  • the neurological impacts of sexual trauma
  • the intersection of these issues with technology



Research Spotlight: “Sexual Violence as a Sexual Script in Mainstream Online Pornography”

Fiona Vera-Gray et al., “Sexual Violence as a Sexual Script in Mainstream Online Pornography,” The British Journal of Criminology (2021): 1-18, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035. Abstract This article examines the ways in which mainstream pornography positions sexual violence as a normative sexual script by analysing the video titles found on the landing pages of the three most popular…

Demand for Prostitution: The Critical Role of Market Dynamics in Combating Sex Trafficking

The concepts of supply and demand are fundamental building blocks in capitalist economies. Supply represents how much of a particular product the market can offer, and demand refers to how much of a product is desired by potential buyers.[1] When these concepts are applied to the phenomenon of prostitution, those individuals who are bought and…

The Phenomenon of “Sexting” and Its Risks to Youth

The digital world teens live in creates opportunities for potential harm. For parents and those working with youth, this can feel overwhelming. So, we are here to help with facts and helpful advice. Today’s teenagers are highly digitally connected, with 95% percent of youth ages 13-18 reporting that they have at least one mobile device…

Our 2020 Impact—With You On Our Side

With 2020 behind us and a new year ahead of us, we’d like to take a moment to look back at all that we accomplished last year.  At the beginning of 2020, we had a three-year plan to dismantle the sexual exploitation industry as we know it, from all angles—advocacy, legislative, and legal perspectives. Despite…

Demand Forum, popular tool to curb sex buying, comes to NCOSE!

Men who buy people for sex provide the revenue stream—and thus the economic motivation—for all prostitution and sex trafficking. Their choice to engage in sex buying is the root of sexual exploitation. Without consumer-level demand, there would be no need for pimps and traffickers. Supply (victims) and distribution (sex traffickers) are symptoms. Demand is the cause….

NCOSE Research Institute graphic for Demand Forum

Why the United States Needs the “Human Trafficking Research Act of 2020”

Human trafficking remains a major threat to public safety, health, and human rights throughout the United States, but the absence of solid data about its true scope and character impairs efforts to effectively respond. It’s been 20 years since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act established human trafficking as a distinct form of crime, but there…

Young woman stands next to a neon sign at night (Why the United States Needs the "Human Trafficking Research Act of 2020")

STATEMENT – NCOSE Announces Hiring of Dr. Michael Shively, Foremost National Expert on Combating Demand for Sexual Exploitation

Washington, DC (February 13, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Shively, a foremost national expert on combating demand for sexual exploitation, has joined the organization. Dr. Shively will serve as Senior Advisor on Research and Data Analysis. “To invigorate efforts to combat demand for sexual exploitation,…

New Study Finds Women Are Scared During Sex More Often Than Men

In April 2019, the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy published a study discussing what caused people to feel fear during sex. The study, titled “Feeling Scared During Sex: Findings from a U.S. Probability Sample of Women and Men Ages 14 to 60,” came to some interesting conclusions. At one point, the authors of the…

woman hides behind pillow after being scared during sex

Summary of Research for Child-on-Child Harmful Sexual Behavior

There is growing concern among parents, educators, and child safety experts regarding children[1] who exhibit or who engage in harmful sexual behavior (HSB) against other children. In part, this concern arises from the significant number of incidents of child-on-child HSB known to authorities. For instance, data regarding sexual offenses reported by U.S. police showed that…

First Edition Research Summary and 3 Key Events on the Exploitation of Boys and Men

I wanted to share some exciting news with you: we are generating a massive and much-needed shift in the way our movement addresses the sexual exploitation of boys and men. Male victims of sexual exploitation, sexual violence, sex trafficking, childhood exposure to pornography, and other sexual harms are virtually voiceless today. They are suffering alone…


Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Research and Education, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Lisa L. Thompson

Vice President of Research & Education

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Michael Shively, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor on Research & Data Analysis

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Strategic Partnerships

Allies & Partners with NCOSE's

Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation

Intern & Fellowship Program

Public Health & Research Programs


The Research Institute’s work is critical to everything we do at NCOSE. These project highlights are just a few examples of areas of our work only made possibly by the NCOSE Research Institute.