By Barb Slade
Theresa doesn’t simply tell a story, she lived a nightmare and has survived to share her terrifying tale to millions as she is determined to abolish child slavery and exploitation. At the age of 15 Theresa was tricked by a classmate she had developed a crush on into accompanying him to his home, once there she was drugged, raped and the sexual acts photographed. The popular, trusted boy proceeded to begin a torturous, terrifying ordeal of what resulted in more than 18 months of blackmail, rape, exploitation and sexual servitude. Theresa was told if she didn’t do everything she was instructed to do that her family would be hurt, they would show the disgusting photographs to her parents, her fathers employer, her teachers, even her priest. To ensure her silence and cooperation they went so far as to leave dead animals on her porch as a reminder of the consequences. Theresa began receiving nightly calls that demanded she leave the security of her home immediately and meet them, once in their car she would be driven to undisclosed locations where strange men would perform disgusting and violent acts to her body.
Theresa’s story is one so unimaginable and terrifying that most tend to close their eyes feeling it could never happen in America. The most frightening of all is that statistics show that in excess of 325,000 children are subjected to sexual exploitation every year. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 11 to 12 years old. Theresa was a youth in Detroit, Michigan, not some third world country but right here in our own back yards.
Theresa has been traveling all over the world to raise awareness of human trafficking, sharing her horrendous story with as many individuals or groups that are willing to listen. Ms. Flores is a Human Trafficking Survivor, Author, Victim’s Advocate, Founder of S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution). Her story has been seen on The Today Show, MSNBC: “The Teen Trade”, The 700 Club, CNN/HLN, Glenn Beck’s “For the Record” as well as many local and national radio shows. Her national rescue mission S.O.A.P. has been featured on Dateline, Nightline, and America’s Most Wanted Human Trafficking is a growing threat to our youth, educating them as to the dangers of falling victim to these predators is the only way to stop them in their tracks.
Hear more of Theresa Flores’s story October 19 at 1:00 PM at The First United Methodist Church of Griffith, 400 44th Place, Griffith, Indiana. Robin Reid from Indiana Protection for Abused & Trafficked Humans (IPATH) will speak at the forum, followed by nationally recognized Theresa Flores.
Write it on your calendars, invite your families, your friends, coworkers, teachers, but whatever you do this is one event you won’t want to miss.
Contributed by: Barbara Slade / First United Methodist Church of Griffith