Humans do a lot of horrific things to one another, and human trafficking tops the list. I thought I understood the crime but an article in the August 2014 St. Anthony Messenger Magazine brought my understanding to another level.
According to the United Nations, human trafficking is defined as the transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force, or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.
I thought the crime was something that happened in other countries or cultures but now know that it is the second-leading crime worldwide, including in the United States. It’s been reported in every state of this country, the top five states being California, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Ohio.
In the article, “The Face of Human Trafficking,” Theresa Flores says that when she was in high school in the affluent city of Birmingham, Michigan, she fell victim to trafficking when a schoolmate drove her home from track practice. He first stopped at his home where he drugged and raped her. The following day he started a daily pattern of abuse and threats to her and her family should she ever report the crimes. For two-years the young man auctioned her off to multiple men every evening.
Theresa said her family were devout Catholics, loving, and attentive. They never learned of the abuse because she worked hard to conceal it from them for fear of their safety, sneaking out after everyone was asleep. The abuse finally ended when her family moved out-of-state.
Theresa is now a licensed social worker and tells her story so that she may alert parents and inform young people that there is a way out. In 2011 she formed the group, SOAP, which stands for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. Their hotline number is: 1-888-373-7888.
©2014, Mary K. Doyle