Slave Across The StreetThe daughter of an executive, Theresa was used to moving every couple years. So when she moved to a Detroit suburb, it was nothing new. Fifteen years old and in a new community, she did what any teenager would do – she sought after acceptance and new friendships in school. Shortly after moving, she developed a crush on a boy. A good Catholic girl, Theresa was not allowed to date until she was 16, so she spent a lot of time just talking with him. Then one day, everything changed.

Two years of sexual slavery, gang rapes, manipulation, and blackmailing would begin by a simple infatuation with a teenage boy. One day, he offered to give Theresa a ride home from school. She agreed to ride with him, thrilled with the prospect of being able to spend a little bit of time with him. But he started driving in another direction. He said he needed something from his house and invited her in. He told her how much he liked her and started kissing her. Each moment during this interaction, little red flags popped up in Theresa’s head, but she ignored them believing everyone to essentially be good. She tried to stop things from progressing, but she ended up being drugged and raped by this boy. She had been a virgin.

While this was happening, two of his male relatives that were involved in a large underground criminal ring had taken pictures. They used these pictures to blackmail Theresa into “working for them”, threatening to show her dad’s boss (which would result in her dad losing his job) and passing them around school (which would tarnish her reputation). The threats became worse as she became more involved: dead animals would appear in her mailbox; they would threaten to harm her family; at school, his family members would verbally assault her and teachers turned their heads. They were able to track her every movement, even calling her at a home she was babysitting at. For two years this went on. Unsuspected by her busy parents, she would sneak out at night and be taken to different houses at unknown locations, forced to have sex with hundreds of men. One night, she was kidnapped and taken to a dirty motel in downtown Detroit and given as a ‘payment for a job well done’ to two dozen men to do as they pleased with her.

This horror only ended when her father was given another promotion and the family moved. But the horror has not really ended. Theresa still suffers from the psychological, physical, and mental abuse that she endured as a child. And before she left, the men who had so brutally enslaved her had already groomed another girl to take her place.

Theresa Flores went on to attend college and is now a licensed social worker who is dedicated to educating others about sex trafficking. Besides writing this book, she recently founded Gracehaven House, a group home for girls under the age of 18 who are victims and survivors of commercial sex exploitation, and she has shared her story and speaks on sex trafficking frequently. Visit her website here.

I urge you to read this book. It’s available on, at Barnes and Noble and most bookstores. Read it and pass it on to as many people as you can. It is gripping, horrifying, heartbreaking, yet gives a sense of hope. For those who believe sex trafficking is not an issue in the USA, this book will open your eyes to the reality that this is a global issue. It can happen to anyone, whether raised in the city or the country, from a stable or unstable home, wealthy or poor. Theresa talks about this reality, as well as some of the warning signs of exploitation and some of the qualities that traffickers look for.

To end, I quote the end of Theresa Flores’ testimony. You can read the full testimony here.

“As a social worker, I can tell you, it will cost our state far more if we don’t do anything about this now. The child who is tricked by an older boyfriend suddenly turns into her pimp. He gets her addicted to drugs to control her. She later has a child and he can control her even more. Pretty soon she isn’t able to make the money she once did and he turns her loose. All she knows by then is how to sell her for sex and she is addicted to drugs. She can’t hold a job. Hasn’t finished high school. She goes on public assistance. Children services take her children away because she can’t parent well. She doesn’t have medical insurance and goes to the ER frequently, because she is very ill from all the abuse that her body endured. She is arrested frequently for things like solicitation, drugs and theft. In and out of the court system. Perhaps she is lucky and goes through drug rehab at some point.

It’s a vicious cycle. One that doesn’t have a happy ending.

When my two teenage daughters asked me why I do this, why I went public and share my story and why I am trying to open Gracehaven, I told them it was for THEM. Because if this ever happened to them, I would want a law behind me. I would want every tool possible available to me to fight back. That it’s important to teach others that this is happening, to prevent it from happening to others, to reach out and rescue those that are going through this and to help turn victims into survivors and rehabilitate and heal.”