Three little words plunged Theresa Flores into two years of slavery. Four little words saved her life.

Three little words plunged Theresa Flores into two years of slavery. Four little words saved her life.

Flores, the author of "The Slave across the Street," spoke about her experience of being entrapped in domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) at a Hilliard Women in Business luncheon June 22 at the Four Seasons.

"It's a really heavy issue," Flores said. "One of the things I hear most frequently is I didn't know it happens here. It is epidemic, I believe."

According to the Ohio Study Commission on Human Trafficking, there are an estimated 1,000 children age 12-17 being trafficked in Ohio.

When she was 15 and living in a well-to-do Detroit suburb, Flores had a crush on a boy. "He said three little words 'I like you,'" Flores recalled.

She went into his home and unsuspectingly had a soft drink that he drugged. He raped her and had incriminating photos taken. Flores was blackmailed into prostitution, leaving her home at night and returning the next morning for two years without her family knowing. She was followed and threatened with death if she didn't comply.

Once, a customer asked her what her name was, and her pimp told him that Flores didn't have a name. "It broke my soul," Flores said.

After a particularly harrowing experience in a seedy motel, Flores escaped into a diner. "My angel came in the form of a waitress who said, 'Can I help you?'" she said.

Now, Flores has a master's degree and has been a social worker for more than 20 years. She is the mother of three children and lives in central Ohio. Flores has talked about her experiences on The Today Show and has written "The Slave across the Street." Her story will be turned into a movie starring Abigail Mason.

"I've been helping other survivors," Flores said. In the S.O.A.P. program (Saving Our Adolescents from Prostitution), she gives away soap to motels wrapped with a message to help those who might be victims of DMST. There is also a website, www.traffickfree.com, and Flores is raising funds to open Gracehaven, a spiritual safe house in Ohio for girls who have been traumatized by DMST.

A portion of the proceeds from the luncheon went to Gracehaven House. For more information, visit www.gracehavenhouse.org.