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Child Sex Trafficking Victim Tells Her Story

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Theresa Flores hopes that telling her story may encourage others to help victims. Theresa Flores hopes that telling her story may encourage others to help victims.
An audience member reacts as Theresa Flores tells her story. An audience member reacts as Theresa Flores tells her story.
Fifty percent of sex trafficking victims are under 21 years of age. Fifty percent of sex trafficking victims are under 21 years of age.

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Children trafficked as sex slaves is the world's second largest criminal enterprise, according to the state department.  Social workers and law enforcement have been meeting in Tulsa to look for solutions.

Activists say Oklahoma is in a prime location for child sex traffickers, thanks to two interstates that cross the state.  They hope residents recognize the growing problem and step up to put an end to it.

"I hope to save girls. I hope that girls will see this and says that they don't want to live like that and it will give them the courage to come forth and tell someone," said Theresa Flores, sex trafficking victim.

Theresa Flores has a story to tell, a story of how she became a sex slave as a 15 year old. She's spent the last two days in Tulsa talking about how she was raped then used as a slave for sex between boys and grown men for two years.        

"Never gets any easier, never gets easy," Flores said.

Flores is the featured speaker at Oklahoma's first ever conference on human trafficking. Organizers say, because of its location, Oklahoma is a major player in the dark world of child sex trafficking.

"Oklahoma's on a trade route: I-35, I-40 corridors where they're moving kids around, moving people from place to place to sell them, marketing them. Our children are vulnerable and our area, geographically makes us at risk," said Mark Elam of Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans.

Just this past August, Ronnie Presley was arrested in Tulsa for what authorities call the largest sex trafficking ring in the mid west.

The department of justice says 200,000 U.S. children are at risk each year for trafficking into the sex industry and more than 17,000 children are brought into the country to be used as sex slaves. Eighty percent of sex slaves are women and girls, and 50% of them are under 21 years old.

Theresa Flores hopes her story will take away the stigma and encourage the public to understand the growing problem of sex slaves in the U.S.

"Society's views of this is very harsh," said Theresa Flores, victim of child sex trafficking.

"So they don't like when a survivor comes forth because we think that everybody has choices, and that's not really the case," she said.

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