Human trafficking is a term that many of us associate with foreign affairs. Today human trafficking is not only an issue abroad, but one that is becoming more prevalent within the U.S. W-O-S-U's Elizabeth Akinkuolie has the story:
It's taken twenty years of healing, and counseling to be able to talk in public about it.
Social worker, Theresa Flores survived a two year nightmare as a teen when she was a victim of sex trafficking. Even though the crime occurred twenty years ago, she says young women are still very much at risk.
They raped, you know, me. And then took pictures, and then used those to threaten me, and manipulate me into helping their business. And from what I have found out since then, that's a kind of a typical practice that can be used to get girls to do this sort of thing. Says Flores.
Flores often tells her story in lectures and in her book the Sacred Bath. She has been a licensed social worker in Ohio for a period of twenty years, and is a board member for a local non- profit known as Gracehaven. Gracehaven is in the process of building a shelter for girls who have been sexually exploited in Ohio. While the shelter is under construction, the group plans to team up with Rehab's Hideaway, a new victims' safe house that offers temporary assistance for victims of sexual exploitation.
Marlene Carson, founder and CEO of Rahab's Hideaway, is also a survivor of human trafficking. She says that providing a safe house for girls will help those who are unable to help themselves.
Often times, we have things happen in our lives that we never know who else is going to help. This is something that I suppressed for years. I didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to live it, and didn't want my children to know it; it had a lot of shame to it actually." Says Carson.
Special Agent and spokesperson, Mike Brooks, says that human trafficking is investigated by the FBI as a federal civil rights violation, and capturing individuals poses a few challenges.
Obtaining the cooperation of victims of these crimes is extremely difficult because they are led to understand that their personal safety is dependent upon law enforcement not being aware of their presence in our country. Says Brooks.
President of Gracehaven, Dr. Jeffrey Barrows says that Domestic girls are the most common victims of domestic trafficking in the U.S. Human trafficking is often viewed as an international problem, but now it appears to be closer to home.
Elizabeth Akinkuolie- W-O-S-U News.