The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

October 9, 2013

Woman to share story on human trafficking

CLINTON — The YWCA's Week Without Violence will include a presentation by a teenage victim of human trafficking.

The event featuring Brittany Phillips will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Clinton Community College auditorium.

Phillips was a 15-year-old girl from Iowa when she became a victim of human trafficking. Having been physically and sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, Phillips was removed to a treatment facility in Iowa City when she was 13. At the age of 15, Phillips ran away from the facility and ended up in Cedar Rapids. As a runaway, she ultimately found herself approached by a man offering her a modeling job. Phillips accepted the job.

The man turned out to be a drug dealer who took her to Chicago and forced her into prostitution.

“I saw some things that I didn’t think I’d ever see,” Phillips said. “They forced me to have sex with people for money, took pictures of me and posted them on Craigslist, as well as beat girls who tried running away. I had a gun held to my head at one point, along with some other girls, and was told that if I ran, they’d find me and kill me.”

Phillips was ultimately rescued by an undercover police officer who arrested her for prostitution approximately three months after she first ran away.

“Not everybody gets the chance to get out of it the way I did,” Phillips said. “I was lucky. Not many are, and a lot of them are young girls, like I was.”

Phillips has since been adopted by her foster mother and together they have worked to share her story in hopes of helping others and increasing awareness of human trafficking as a local issue. The mother-daughter duo has also been instrumental in lobbying for tougher human-trafficking laws in Iowa.

For more information about this or any other Week Without Violence event, contact Sarah Brubaker at the YWCA at 242-2110 or email marketing@ywcaclinton.org.

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