Contact: Jeff Ellis
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A simple ride home from a boy she liked resulted in two years of sex slavery for Theresa Flores, a 15-year-old girl with a normal family, living in an affluent suburb near Detroit.

Flores, now an advocate for victims of sex slavery and other forms of human trafficking, will be the featured speaker at Protect Your Kids: A free community forum about human trafficking, to be held on Tuesday, November 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Strongsville Middle School auditorium, in Strongsville. The event is being organized by the Rotary Club of Strongsville in partnership with the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, of Cleveland.

Victims of sex slavery and other forms of human trafficking are often hidden in plain sight, being sold on the Internet, or forced to work in hotels or in private residences, coerced by violence, emotional control or the promise of drugs, sometimes while living an otherwise normal life.

“It’s important that the public know the red flags of trafficking so that suspected cases of trafficking are recognized and reported, and victims have access to needed services,” said Karen Walsh, president and CEO of the Collaborative. "Many people believe that human trafficking takes place only in far-away places. The reality, however, is that it’s taking place right here in Greater Cleveland."

The Collaborative developed the public awareness campaign, Human Trafficking Happens Here Too, along with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Greater Cleveland’s Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking, to raise the public’s awareness that the crime is occurring across northeast Ohio and right here in our own neighborhoods.

During the first half of 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded 191 known cases of human trafficking in Ohio alone, 82 percent of which involved sex trafficking and 28 percent of which involved minors. Over the past 10 years, the Cleveland area ranked 13th in the nation for the number of calls per capital made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Columbus ranked ninth.

Around the world, the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery and other advocacy groups estimate, more than 4.6 million people live in slavery.

Since escaping from sex trafficking, Flores has become an author and founder of The SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) Project. She was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission in 2009 and has testified before the Ohio House and Senate in support of Human Trafficking Legislation. Additionally, the “Theresa Flores Law,” which eliminates the statue of limitations for children who have been trafficked, was recently passed in Michigan 

Other speakers at the forum will include Detective John Morgan, of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department and a member of the Ohio Attorney General - Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. A representative from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center also will speak.

The forum resulted from a series of meetings between the Strongsville Rotary and the Collaborative, along with top administrators of the Strongsville City School District, the Strongsville Police Department, the Strongsville Fire Department, the Ohio Highway Patrol, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner from a local hospital and a Strongsville High School student ambassador appointed to the Ohio Attorney General's Task Force on Human Trafficking.

The free forum is open to all. Registration is not required, but is appreciated. Attendees can register at

Strongsville Middle School is located at 13200 Pearl Road, Strongsville, Ohio 44136.