Ohio native was victim of human trafficking

A therapist once asked Theresa Flores to define "love." Her reply "I don't know what that is."
Aaron Krause
Jul 25, 2010

A therapist once asked Theresa Flores to define "love."

Her reply "I don't know what that is."

She has since formed a definition. When you love someone, you can depend on them.

About 22 years ago, at age 15, Flores thought she could depend on the boy who offered her a ride home from school in a black Trans Am.

She accepted and off the pair went. But first, he had to stop by his house.

The boy asked Flores to follow him in and that's when roughly two years of unspeakable torture began.

Flores, an Ohio native and licensed social worker, recounted her story this week to professionals at EHOVE GHRIST Adult Career. She spoke as part of a day-long program called "Identifying and Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking: Information for the Helping Professional."

The event had several purposes, including defining human trafficking and how and where it happens.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is a "modern-day form of slavery."

Victims are subjected to force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

According to a University of Pennsylvania study, around 250,000 to 300,000 American children are at risk of being sexually exploited, which can lead to the act of actual human trafficking.

It happened to Flores right in her hometown in suburban Detroit.

Flores entered her "escort's" house.

No one was home except for some of his older cousins.

The guy who was supposedly taking Flores home raped her, while the others snapped pictures.

A couple days later, they showed her the photos. If she didn't comply with their orders, they would show the pictures to her parents and post them around church. She had to "earn" the pictures back.

Flores didn't dare tell anyone what happened. Her attackers told her if she told anyone, they'd kill her.

So her parents were not aware who was calling their daughter in the middle of the night.

It was the boy and his cousins. Flores had to sneak out of her home and proceed to a spot behind the house.

There, in her pajamas, she waited for the black Trans Am to take her to the basement of various upscale, expensive homes.

Young men would come and go, speak to each other in Arabic, sexually molest and torture Flores.

Fear and panic gripped her.

"There were many times I passed out," she said.

No matter how loud she screamed, nobody heard her.

Flores' story has a happy ending. She was able to escape her traffickers, certain death and a life of servitude.

Not only did she escape, she finished her senior year of high school, attended college and obtained a bachelor degree in social work from Ball State University. She also received a master's in counseling and is a single mother raising three children.

But although Flores may be well past her terrifying ordeal, the experience is still with her.

"There's life-long healing when you've gone through this," she said.

Flores has nightmares.

She has flashbacks, even when she's speaking to a group. One time someone tried to affix a microphone to her shirt so she the audience could hear her. Flores flinched because the experience reminded her of an attacker grabbing her shirt.

Other flashbacks make her re-live the nights she had to close her door ever so slowly so her parents wouldn't hear, sneak outside in her pajamas and wait for her traffickers.

Flores said nobody, including counselors, wanted to hear about her experience. It was too "big" and "messy," they'd say.

So, what's the answer?

"We need to get angry about it, we need to have awareness, we need to make changes," Flores said. "Slavery is not God's will."

Flores is trying to spread the awareness of human trafficking. She has spoken to hundreds of high school students and is the author of "The Sacred Bath: An American Teen's Story of Modern Day Slavery."

Comments

Richard Cranium

Human Trafficking? Sounds like a real bad case of blackmail. In fact, according to the story in the paper, her ordeal doesn't make sense at all. Something just doesn't seem right about her story. It's probably my evil, skpetical side coming out, but i call it as I see it.

Chad Eitle (Ano...

Don't feel too bad, I am sitting here thinking the same thing. I have alot of questions and opinions on this one but don't feel like this is a pot I would benefit from stirring up.

fruitypebbles

The reason things don't make sense is the writer's fault. I think it is very poorly written. It is almost as if he minimizes what she went through. Wow. I wonder what 'Flores' thinks about how he wrote her story. I am probably wrong, but that's 'my2cents' ;)

swiss family

I commend Ms Flores for bringing this to our attention, and especially trying to give the information to the target age group, which is teenage girls!
i have read all of the negative comments from the posters, who are saying that this story doesn't make any sense, well, my question is , what part of the story doesn't make sense?? do you really believe that our kids are safe, just because they are in their own beds at their own homes at night??
who would have ever believed that our kids were being victimized by our local, respected parish priest?? and who would have ever believed that our kids were being victimized by their teaches, and their sporting coaches!!
the bottom line is that there are evil people out there , in every and all professions, just waiting for the parents to feel comfortable, and complacent with the situation of us being in charge of their kids.when that happens, these kids are ours!!
if this kind of situation seems foreign to you, then your kids are set up to become the next victims, and nothing would make the perpetrator happier..wake up people, we aren't living in Mayberry any longer..crime is out there , everywhere, and happens all of the time, in every situation..it is our job, as parents, to pay attention to our kids, and observe their actions, and question anything that seems suspicious.. and to act on it.. if we fail to do that, we have failed our kids, and supplied the criminal with their next victims!

David Deerest.

It's a strange story indeed. I say blackmail sounds more like it. Yeah, thanks for bringing it to our attention that you can make up a story to meet guys to have sex with and get away with it. I smell a rat, and this time it's not swiss.

Richard Cranium

Deer Dave....ditto. Swiss, you are definitely naive. You probably have never left Norwalk or Collins or Wakeman or where ever it is your from. You always seem to believe every bleeding heart story that's out there. But I have to admit, I like reading all the slams on you from other commentors.

David Deerest.

Flores said nobody, including counselors, wanted to hear about her experience. It was too "big" and "messy," they'd say.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It was too big and messy for a counselors???
"Hey, 'Flores', I'LL listen to your messed up story! Bring it!"
This thing sounds like something someone would make up in 8th grade because they just didn't want to get caught. Didn't want to be labeled as a w-h-o-r-e so she made up this story and she's told the lie so many times that she now believes herself that she was abducted by Arabs, no less.
To my2cents, I agree...never even left the trailer park.

swiss family

to "Deer Dave" wow, you are really showing everyone what a piece of trash, and a lowlife you really are!!

you think that it is acceptable to call this woman a "ho"... are you serious?? just because you were fortunate enough to go through your childhood, and not be victimized by any type of abuse, doesn't mean that everyone is lucky enough to live that type of perfect life style!!

do you also think that the little boys that were victims of the priests were "ho's" too? and did they deserve what they got??what about the little girls walking home from school, who are grabbed off the streets and taken advantage of, were they asking for it as well???

you really need to open your eyes and realize that people are victims of all types of abuse everyday, and it is usually not anything that they are looking for, or responsible for.. it is a shame that these people have such a hard time re adjusting to normal life.. but it is mostly because of judgemental, and pious people such as yourself, that really do the most damage to them... i hope that you are very proud of yourself

David Deerest.

pious?? you just learn that word? you're a hoot. shut up already. no one likes you, not even me. (whispering..."the meds, you need the meds")

swiss family

to Deer Dave, sorry to keep using words that you don't have any idea what they mean.. i will try to keep it really simple for your sake from now on!!!!
what happened to the fact that you said that you were done in this room, and you weren't coming back?? were you lying to us all again??? liar!!!!!

David Deerest.

Sticks and stones...
(since you act like you're 7, I thought you might pick up on that easily)
ttfnyfposfafq!

Lillie Chaos (A...

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