Lara Gerassi

Position title: STREETS Director of Research

Lara B. Gerassi is an assistant professor at the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, an affiliate of the department of Gender and Women’s Studies, and a member of the Faculty Council of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative. Lara B. Gerassi’s research aims to enhance the wellbeing of people who are involved in the sex trade, at risk of sex trafficking, and/or have been sex trafficked.  Her work uses an anti-oppressive, intersectional approach to (1) understand people’s experiences of sex trading across the continuum of agency; (2) strengthen the identification of (potentially) sex trafficked people, and (3) enhance the quality and inclusiveness of social services for people who trade sex and/or are sex trafficked.

She uses community-engaged approaches to increase the methodological rigor of her studies and translate knowledge into practice. Her first-authored book,  Sex Trafficking & Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Prevention, Advocacy, and Trauma-Informed Practice (2017), is the first comprehensive text to critically analyze the current research and best practices for social workers working with children, adolescents, and adults who are at risk of sex trafficking.

Dr. Gerassi teaches multiple courses including Sex Trafficking and Social Work and Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups. Her research and teaching are informed by her social work practice experience (LCSW), primarily with survivors of violence.

Assistant Professor Lara Gerassi received a Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award from the UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Awards Committee in recognition of her outstanding teaching, mentorship, and strong attention to inclusive practices.

Dr. Gerassi’s publications are available here.

Download Lara Gerassi’s Curriculum Vitae