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The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores
I just finished reading The Slave Across the Street. It’s Theresa Flores’s memoir of her time as a sex slave. There’s a lot about her story that’s surprising and sounds unique: She was a blond, white high schooler in suburban Detroit. She was a good student with a caring family. She lived at home and went to school the whole time she was trafficked. She was Catholic, and she and her long-distance boyfriend were committed to abstinence. She wasn’t a runaway or abused as a child or a drug user.
When she was fifteen her family moved to the Detroit area. They’d moved many times. At her new school, Theresa became interested in a boy. He was a Chaldean, a Christian minority for Iraq. Friends warned her that the Chaldeans only dated among themselves and that she should keep her distance from them, but she figured there couldn’t be anything so wrong with Chaldeans if they went to the same church as her. One day the boy offered her a ride home. Instead he took her to his home, invited her in, and raped her. Ignoring a series of red flags—as teens do—had landed her in what she then thought was the worst situation of her life.
It got worse. While the boy had been raping her, his cousins snuck in and took pictures. In the coming months they blackmailed her with the pictures, telling her that if she did what they asked, she’d get the pictures back and no one would ever know—they wouldn’t show her dad and his boss, or her mom, or her brothers, or her friends at church and school.
Soon after the initial threat was delivered, they took her to a finished basement in a nice home and several men raped her.
Starting then, several days a week, they’d call and tell her they were coming to pick her up. She’d sneak out of her house and they’d take her to mysterious locations where men would pay to rape her. If she refused, they threatened and beat her. The abuse wore on her physically and mentally.
Eventually she escaped rather unceremoniously—her family moved again and she didn’t tell anyone where they were going. Since then Theresa has struggled to share her story.
Now, decades later, Theresa speaks around the country and is the head of SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution). Here’s more about SOAP:
On her worst night, after being auctioned off to nearly two dozen men in a dingy, dirty, inner city motel, Ms. Flores recalled the only item that could have reached out to her: a bar of soap to clean up.
With that in mind, she has created SOAP, standing for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.
The project’s goal are:
- To Educate Motel Owners and staff on human trafficking.
- To offer a way for motel owners, clientele and victims to reach out for help.
- To address the Demand side of trafficking through awareness.