Meredith Dank has a job that she admits can be a “party buzz kill” — she spends her days delving into the often gritty and grim lives of child sex workers, pros­ti­tutes and pimps.

As much as you think you have built up this wall of emo­tion, there are some hor­rific sto­ries out there that are absolutely crushing, and it can leave you just speech­less,” said Dank, 36, a former com­modi­ties ana­lyst who was the lead author of a 340-​​page study pub­lished March 12 that exam­ined the busi­ness side of the com­mer­cial sex trade in eight U.S. cities.

Based on inter­views with scores of police offi­cials, pros­ti­tutes and pimps, the study, funded with $499,000 from the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment, will help policy makers better address the lucra­tive illegal sex market, sev­eral crim­i­nol­o­gists said.

Amy Far­rell, an assis­tant pro­fessor of crim­i­nology at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston, said Dank’s report “gives us a glimpse into the causes, the struc­tures, the rela­tion­ships within this market.”

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