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Wed February 8, 2012
Survivor of sex trafficking tells her story
Theresa Flores is a social worker, and director of education and training for Gracehaven House, in Ohio. It's a long term faith based care and rehabilitation home for young girls who have been victimized by human trafficking.
Flores grew up in an upper-middle class catholic home. Many years ago she found herself in the same situation as some of the young women she now helps.
Flores says she moved around a lot. Her father had a good job, and her parents were very strict. They landed in Birmingham, Michigan.
“I was basically just your normal teenager who was starved for attention and there was somebody who was there to say exacted what I wanted to hear,” Flores recalls.
During high school, Flores says she was targeted by some older boys at school. One day one of those boys offered to drive her home.
“He didn’t take me home. He took me to his house…he offered me a pop, and it was laced with something. He proceeded to rape me, and then his cousins were there taking pictures. And it wasn’t revealed to me until several days later that they had a plan…I was to earn them back.”
Flores was blackmailed into having forced sex with strangers. Two years later the Flores family moved to another city far away from Birmingham. That's how she escaped.
But many survivors of domestic sex trade don’t escape, she says. “Most will die in it."
Flores wrote a book about her experience called The Sacred Bath: An American Teen’s Story of Modern Day Slavery.
She now helps other survivors. Her new program called S.O.A.P, or Save Our Adolescence from Prostitution calls attention to human trafficking.
Volunteers place bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in motel rooms. They also offer training to hotel staff members on the signs of missing children and run away kids that are caught up with a pimp or trafficker.