Raising awareness of human trafficking in Wisconsin

Posted at 6:13 PM, Nov 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-13 13:17:34-05

Inside Peace Lutheran Church near Green Bay, Theresa Flores is healing.

"This is what my revenge, my justice, my healing looks like by doing this," Flores explained.

When she says "doing this," she means sharing her story of what happened to her in Michigan years ago. It's a story she's shared many times with people all across the country.

"I met a boy in high school," she explained, "After six months he just asked if I wanted a ride home from school. He didn't take me home though, he ended up taking me to his house, drugging me and raping me."

He then blackmailed her, forcing her into sex trafficking.

"This is the second leading crime in not just the world but in the United States and in Wisconsin," she said.

Flores was the keynote speaker at a human trafficking awareness event at the church in Kunesh on Saturday. Capt. Jeremy Muraski of the Green Bay Police Department also spoke to a packed room, filled with people wondering what they can do to help.

"It appears to be a little bit on the upward trend which is very discouraging," Capt. Muraski said.

He says many people ask him the same question at these kinds of events.

"Does this really happen here? And the answer is yes, unfortunately," he said.

As attendees learned more, they said they want to make a change. 

"I'm trying to take on that as a mission in Pulaski and get Pulaski fired up to go against it," explained Connie McNamara, who said she's heard Flores speak before.

Flores ended up escaping the trafficking with her family's help, but she said most girls' stories don't end that way.

Now, she's helping educate others to recognize and put a stop to these horrible crimes.

Capt. Muraski says some warning signs that a girl might be being trafficked are certain types of tattoos, someone who doesn't make eye contact when spoken to, and bruises or injuries in places like the arms and back.