By: Christine Souders, posted on October 15, 2013—
“It happens here.
That’s what a mother and daughter are speaking out about: human trafficking in Iowa and Illinois.
Now the young woman is putting a face on the victims of this crime.
At age 14, Brittany Phillips ran away from home.
She said she was hungry and broke, and went to a HyVee in Cedar Rapids to steal food to survive.
That’s when a man she didn’t know approached her for a modeling gig.
“He had some men come and they took me away, and put me in a van across State line to Chicago,” said Brittany Phillips, a victim of human trafficking, what she thought was an opportunity, turned into a night mare.
“There were roaches all over the floor, there were people doing drugs, there were men standing outside with guns. I didn’t sleep at all.”
For three months, Phillips said she lived in filth and fear.
“There were times when he beat me when I didn’t do what he asked me to.”
She said she was forced against her will, to perform sex for money.
That is until an undercover cop arrested her for prostitution, a chance encounter she says saved her life.
“I look at him as my hero because if it weren’t for him, I could still be there, or god knows dead.”
Phillips and her adoptive mother Ruth Buckels shared her story with an audience at Clinton Community College on Tuesday.
“I’ve realized how wide spread this is. Iowa is so prone to this because our people are so trusting,” said Ruth Buckels, who adopted Phillips after taking her into her home as a then foster parent.
Buckels said their message is to teach others not to turn a blind eye to human trafficking.
“It’s became a passion of mine to share with people so they won’t have to put together the lives of their sons and daughters, like I had to with Brittany,” said Buckels.
Both women said there are ways for people to report possible human trafficking situations.”
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