This article was about a girl named Theresa Flores. People have different images in their mind of the environments when people are trafficked. They may think of a third world country, the slums or even a low-income neighborhood in a big city…..In this article you will see, that is not always the case.
Flores resided in an upscale suburb in Detroit. According to the article, Flores didn’t face any abuse at home, never endured foster care, used drugs or any faced type of instability that fits the “stereotype” of a victim of trafficking. At school, Flores had a crush on a young man. One day after track practice, Flores walked outside to find the young man waiting there. He offered her a ride home, which she accepted.
One the way to her house, he turned the car around in the opposite direction. He told her he had to grab something from home. He asked her if she wanted to come in. Flores said no because her mother was waiting for her at home.
His next words to her is a VERY popular technique used to brainwash young vulnerable girls.
He said,”I like you“.
As any young girl with a crush would do, she ignored her common sense and went with him.
After she entered, he offered her soft drink which had a drug in it. Flores was then raped and taken home. Flores was so ashamed so she never told her parents. She also feared they would become disappointed in her.
Sadly, this is why many girls do not tell anyone. They are so ashamed, embarrassed and fearful of their image.
A few days later, the boy approached her and said he had pictures of her. He told her she had to work to pay for them. He threatened to distribute these pictures at her father’s work, her school and church if she didn’t comply with his orders. She agreed to work, even though she did not know what kind of “work” she would be doing.
During her “employment”, Flores would be called late at night to work. She would have to sneak out her house where the boy would pick her up. He then would take her to “beautiful private homes” where several men would have sex with her.
According to this article, they would call her while she was out babysitting to prove they could find her anywhere. They would even stalk her at her part-time job at Burger King. Like many traffickers do, they threatened to kill her family if she didn’t do as she was told. The only reason she continued was every time she had to “work”, it would be the last time and she could get the pictures back and this nightmare would be over.
One night, Flores had an awful feeling that something was not the same. She was picked up in the same car but had different people. Flores was pulled into the car and driven a long distance away that was far from the normal neighborhoods. During the car ride, she was beaten and drugged. They finally arrived at a run down smelly hotel in an inner city area.
When she arrived she saw that 20 men were waiting for her. At this time she was only 16 years old. According to this article, Flores learned they were a part of an underground organization. Flores became terrified when someone announced she was something “the boss” had arranged for them. She was then auctioned off to the highest bidder…..over….and….over…again.
After a while, she passed out and felt nauseous and sick when she woke up. She then saw the men were gone, but she was nude. She managed to find her clothing and stumbled to the 24 hour diner across the parking lot.
If efforts to help other victims, she has designed Gracehaven. This facility will help minors who are victims of sex trafficking.
According to the article it will be located in rural Ohio, it will be a place for victims to go to school, take field trips, receive specialized counseling, learn life kills, and engage in gardening and animal therapy.
I am excited to see another safehousing program open. I’m also glad to see a victim become a survivor. It’s so encouraging to see a survivor help others who are struggling to heal. This process is so gruesome for victims. Honestly, you can’t truly understand unless you go through it. It’s like you are trying to find yourself, decipher what is real and what isn’t. The hardest part is learning to trust anything and everything again.
I feel this verse is perfect for representing the healing process for survivors:
For He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I will come forth as gold. -Job 23:10
I pray that if you are a victim who is reading this, you are beautiful and loved. You can get out and there are those that will help and understand you. Don’t be scared, help is here.