LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) - When you meet the author of a book, you put a face to the name, and a voice to the page. When fate tried to silence Theresa Flores, the author found a reason to speak up.
"This happened to me over 30 years ago, not very far from here." said Flores to an audience at her book signing in Livonia. In front of a crowd full of strangers, Flores peels back the stigma of her own experience as a 15-year-old in suburban Detroit forced into prostitution.
"This is the face of human trafficking." said Flores as she points to the photo of a young girl, "This is what it looks like in the United States. This is actually a picture of myself when I lived in Birmingham."
Drugged and raped by a high school crush, Flores' perpetrators threatened violence and public shaming if she didn't comply with their demands.
"They would call my house in the middle of the night around midnight," said Flores. "Several nights a week. And they would demand I appear immediately for service. Every survivor I know has come through Detroit. And they end up in these nasty motels. On my worst night, I ended up in a nasty motel in inner city Detroit."
"As a parent, that scares me." said Rachel Kuehn, "As a mom of two daughters, that's horrifying."
"For me personally, it really put a face, a Michigan face, on this issue." said State Senator Judy Emmons, who says Flores' story sheds light into why Michigan needs stronger human trafficking laws.
"We know that there's a great need for the victims as well, services for them," said Emmons, "We need stronger laws against perpetrators, but stronger laws against those who purchase services."
As she signs copies of her book, The Slave Across The Street, Flores believes the voice you hear in the book is not only hers, but the collective voice of survivors and advocates, shouting for hope together.
"It's very humbling," said Flores, "And it's really my honor to be healed so much and out of it so long that now I can do this for others."
In addition to books and lectures, Flores' group also supplies bar soap to area hotels and motels. Attached to them is the number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
For more information on Flores' work, head to www.traffickfree.com.