Theresa Flores knows firsthand the dangers of human trafficking. A victim herself when she was a teen, she has since become a champion for young people and has seen a Michigan human trafficking law named after her.

Flores will be speaking in Southwest Michigan at three different events this upcoming Thursday. She will first be speaking at Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles at 12 p.m., then at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac at 2:30 p.m., and finally at the First Church of God in St. Joseph at 6:30 p.m.

Her appearances here are sponsored by the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.

Task force member and SMC professor Don Ricker said he invited Flores to come to the area to talk about the problem of human trafficking and share her own story. “Theresa’s message will be her own story about how she fell victim to a trafficker, and what a serious problem trafficking is in the United States,” he said.

“Sex trafficking is a real problem in this area,” Ricker said. “I’ve served on the advisory board since 2014, and I can attest to the seriousness of this heinous crime.”

Unbeknownst to her family, Flores became a human trafficking victim at age 15 when she was trafficked for two years as a reward to men who did a good job in their criminal ring. She and her family lived in a well-to-do suburban neighborhood in Michigan and the abuse didn’t stop until her family moved.

Now a social worker, she has authored a best-selling book, created the nonprofit SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) and had the Theresa Flores Act, which ups the statute of limitations from six years to 25 for human trafficking, named after her.

Flores now lives in Ohio, where she has also been instrumental in getting human trafficking legislation passed.