Dr. Nichols’s teaching and research interests broadly include sex trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation/sex work and intimate partner violence.
Her practitioner-centered research examines community-based responses, as well as social work and criminal justice practices. Her commercial sex industry related scholarship aims to provide a nuanced approach to understanding the fluid continuum of agency and victimization and the varied experiences of those involved in commercial sex by choice, as a constrained choice, or through trafficking.
Nichols’s second book, Sex Trafficking in the United States: Theory Research Policy and Practice, offers a comprehensive review of the contemporary discourse examining sex trafficking in the United States. Researchers, students, and practitioners will find one volume that encompasses a comprehensive review of key components of the field. The book explains the nuances of sex trafficking, competing views of commercial sex, and criminal justice and social service responses to sex trafficking. The book also details the theoretical and political debates that are present internationally as well as nationally, examines outcomes of various models of prostitution policy around the globe, and highlights the anti-trafficking movement and anti-trafficking organizations operating both internationally and nationally. Nichols also explores the link between identity-based oppression, societal marginalization, and the risk of victimization, as well as the contribution of weak social institutions and social safety nets to increased risk of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Nichols’s most recent book, Social Work Practice with Survivors of Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation, is an edited volume, in which expert practitioners, survivors, and researchers model the best practices for working with survivors, using case examples and illustrative guides. Intended as a teaching tool for students or a supplementary manual for organizations, this book emphasizes interventions and treatments, working with specific populations, programmatic design recommendations, preventative work, and outreach interventions. Researchers, students, and practitioners will find a guide to the emerging field of practice with sex trafficking and exploitation survivors.
Nichols’s current research focuses on responses to juvenile justice involved domestic minor sex trafficking, stressing the importance of providing effective aftercare. Nichols works to expand the knowledge base in this area by examining benefits and challenges to various approaches used in the juvenile justice system. Drawing from in-depth interviews with criminal justice and social service practitioners who work with trafficked minors, her research aims to highlight best practices, as well as recommendations for change.