Free Our Girls' founder and director, Megan Lundstrom, first discovered that pimp-controlled domestic sex trafficking meets all 15 characteristics of a cultic group in 2015. Since that time, she has spent countless hours of observational research and qualitative interview time collecting data to support this theory. Free Our Girls is unique in that the organization operates from the foundation that most survivors of domestic sex trafficking require psychological intervention and aftercare deprogramming prior to reintegrating into their community. The organization uses this cultic theory in all aspects of its work - from outreach to direct services for survivors. Free Our Girls' Cultic Theory has been presented at the 2018 International Cultic Studies Association, the CSE Institute Survivor Symposium at Villanova Law, and many other national conferences. This theory is bringing an unprecedented shift to anti-trafficking work as service providers better understand the depth of impact of such abuse tactics as mind control and thought reform exhibited by sex trafficked victims.
In 2017, Free Our Girls received a research grant through the University of Northern Colorado's Social Research Office to conduct qualitative interviews of currently and formerly sex trafficked adult females. Over the course of six weeks, 54 qualitative interviews were conducted as a part of this study. While there were many more women willing to come forward and share their experiences, the research team at UNC determined that the study had reached data saturation, and no further interviews were necessary for research purposes. This qualitative study is the largest qualitative study of current and previously trafficked women in US history, and while findings are already shared in presentations and trainings, the official data set will be published in an academic book in 2019.
Following the initial qualitative interviews, Free Our Girls' is currently conducting a second study again through UNC's SRO of pimp-controlled "bottoms" to better understand the reality of this often misunderstood, and frequently prosecuted, population. These findings will be available late 2018.
Beginning in 2017, Free Our Girls began formally gathering observational data on nearly 1600 actively pimp-control trafficked women across the US and Canada, making this study the largest quantitative data set in North American history. Due to the magnitude of this study, the findings are being shared ongoing with the total data set analysis being shared in a book set to be published in 2020.