Brittany Phillips knew what she was running away from when the man at Hy-Vee told her she was pretty enough to model, but couldn’t begin to imagine what she was getting into.
In the space of a couple of months in 2006, when Phillips was 14 and should have been a ninth-grader, an attempt to escape an abusive home became a descent into human trafficking. She was plucked out of the grocery store, pressed into the domestic service of a drug dealer and ultimately taken to Chicago and forced into prostitution.
Her ordeal is high on the minds of Iowa law enforcement officials today, who fear literally untold numbers of boys and girls have similarly fallen into what is called “The Life” — a circuit of anonymous, dehumanizing, coerced sex for money.
More than 4,000 Iowa youngsters, most of them female, leave home each year as runaways. Many return in a few hours or days. But some are preyed upon by human traffickers.
Battling human trafficking: Iowa woman tells of being swept into a life of miseryIn Child Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking on August 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm