Close to Home: Is Human Trafficking in our Backyard?

Slavery |’slav re |, noun: a condition compared to that of a slave in respect of exhausting labor or restricted freedom

Where does slavery exist today? Is it across the oceans, in Mexico, or even here?

us national human trafficking

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center released a map in 2013 showing concentrations of “signals” (communications such as phone calls, texts and e-mails) made to NHTRC locations around the country. The signals were from victims, community members and service workers, such as doctors and policemen. In 2013 alone, almost 300 different signals were sent to NHTRC from our area, representing trafficked persons

Slavery is something our country threw overboard in 1865, but degenerates have been running a slavery operation on our soil for years. Slavery is not defined by the use of chains. After all, our history is full of slaves who lived without chains and lived in shacks with their families. This forced servitude has always been defined by the control imposed on a person by threat or force.

We re-named it “human trafficking,” but it wears the same expression. Maybe you have seen it, because it resides close to home. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center released a map (see right) in 2013 showing concentrations of “signals” (communications such as phone calls, texts and e-mails) made to NHTRC locations around the country. The signals were from victims, community members and service workers, such as doctors and policemen. Notice the dark red blob blocking out our state. In 2013 alone, almost 300 different signals were sent to NHTRC, representing trafficked persons.

What can a parent do?

“Be proactive: know the friends parents’ phone number, install alarm systems on the windows and doors of your homes, turn on the tracking system on the cell phone, knowing the passwords to her internet sites—especially Facebook. “ – Theresa Flores

Theresa Flores will be the keynote speaker on Dec. 4, at the YWCA of Northeast Indiana’s Circle of Women Luncheon

Theresa Flores will be the keynote speaker on Dec. 4, at the YWCA of Northeast Indiana’s Circle of Women Luncheon. Flores, a trafficking victim, will present facts on trafficking in the U.S., and offer advice to parents and professionals for preventing this injustice in Northeast Indiana. For more information on how to attend, visit www.ywcaerew.org/CircleofWomen.

These numbers could be blamed on our proximity to Chicago and Detroit, but either way it is bad news. Theresa Flores, a sex-trafficking victim for two years, was 15-years-old and living in Detroit when she was first used by a criminal group of Chaldeans (Catholic Arabs). Flores was raped, blackmailed, beaten and tortured by innumerable men. The escape for her was her father’s job transfer 1,000 miles away from her torturers. She is in the minority of victims who escape with their lives.

Are you picturing a dark-skinned, foreigner from the poor sections of Detroit city? On the contrary, Flores has blonde hair, blue eyes and lived at home with both of her wealthy parents and brother. She went to school during the day, even ran track, while suffering during the night, terrified that her family would be disappointed in her weakness or worse—her family would be hurt by the men who knew where she lived; the men who killed her dog.

Flores, author of “The Slave Across the Street” and speaker for YWCA’s Circle of Women Luncheon, agreed to an interview with glo:

How does society unwittingly assist in human trafficking? What can glo readers do to realistically help put a stop to it?

“We are apathetic. We pass the kids who are inappropriately dressed late at night in the parking garage after our date night with our husbands and think, ‘Wow that is terrible. Where are her parents?’ But no one helps her. Tell men who go to strip clubs that this is wrong, tell people viewing porn that this is promoting human trafficking and speak out to companies that use sex to sell ads like Abercrombie and Vitamin Water. It’s the little things that will work in the end.”

What has helped you to heal the wounds of your own trafficking?

“My faith in God has been my saving grace. I always had faith and hope that those experiences wouldn’t be my life forever. I had faith that that wasn’t what God wanted for me. I tucked away the pain and forged ahead, journaling throughout the horror and after. Now knowing that I am helping others to find their own voices is healing for me.”

Tell us about your non-profit organization S.O.A.P. How does S.O.A.P. affect human trafficking?

“S.O.A.P. is an outreach that helps rescue girls in their time of need. We collect donations to buy cases of soap and organize volunteers to label them and distribute them to hotels, along with missing children posters. It is one of the only outreach human trafficking programs available to people of any age. The results have been amazing. People are recognizing the missing girls and the calls are doubling to the hotline number.”

Signs a person is being trafficked

(from “The Slave Across the Street,” by Theresa Flores)

  • Indications that they are being controlled
  • Bruises or other signs of physical abuse
  • Abrasions around the wrists, ankles or neck
  • Frequent body soreness
  • Inability to go to another place without someone’s permission
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • New set of friends, particularly older ones who are unfriendly and distant to adults
  • New cell phone, expensive jewelry, or other items you know their family could not afford
  • Frequent, unexplained absences from school
  • Dropping out of activities they used to enjoy
  • Out in public without identification or money
  • Not knowing where they are
  • Chronically runs away from home
  • Makes reference to frequent travel to other cities, but doesn’t know specifics about the location
  • Is hungry or malnourished
  • Is inappropriately dressed based on the weather conditions or surroundings
  • Shows sign of drug addiction
  • Makes reference to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norm (a challenge these days due to our highly sexual culture)
  • Has a boyfriend who is noticeably older
  • Makes reference to terminology of the commercial sex industry
  • Locks on the outside of a door
  • Bars on windows
  • People sleeping and working in the same location, and in cramped or crowded conditions
  • Sparse living conditions, generally a mattress only on the floor
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About Davina Black

Davina is a freelance writer from Keystone, Indiana, and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, where she earned her B.A. in Writing. In addition to her Lady Lit column in “glo,” she writes book and blog reviews for “Home Indoor Outdoor Living,” thus delving into at least six books each month. Davina began her sortie with “glo” in the first issue in 2009 and has covered a multitude of issues including health, dance, fashion, design, cuisine, aging and military. Her husband, Daniel, is a high school engineering teacher from Goshen, Ind., and together they have a blonde toddler named Judah.

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