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DES MOINES – If you think sex trafficking isn’t a problem in Iowa, think again.

As a child, Linda’s first memories are of being raped.

“I was about two years old, and a couple guys showed up and I was taken to a park in town. It was a really small town in Iowa,” Linda recalls. “They took me to this bathroom in the park and they had cameras at the time…and started filming and having us do sex acts with them, with each other and it was…it was pretty horrid the first time.”

We have changed her name and are shielding her identity to protect her privacy, but Linda says she knows first hand about sex trafficking, specifically child sex trafficking in Iowa. She says she lived that nightmare for 14 years, appearing in hundreds of child pornography films and being raped thousands of times.

She says she even helped her traffickers get other children.

“I remember some kids crying for their mom and being very scared. And I knew what I did help get them there was not something you should do but I also didn’t understand why they cried for mom,” she said. “I never really grew up with that sense of family. I was more like you’d consider a refrigerator. I was useful.”

“One of my worst memories, they did a lot of child porn where they would rape babies,” Linda said. “And it’s still hard to think of a baby crying and it’s probably one of the hardest sounds that you’ll ever hear.”

Linda says she and her twin sister had been told their mother died during childbirth. She says she was raised and prostituted by her traffickers. She remembers the day her sister was killed, when they were just seven years old.

“A lot of times I was kept in a cage in this barn with a few other kids and she thought she could get me out of there. And she got caught.” Linda remembers,  “I watched her drown in a horse trough full of water.”

The killer, Linda said, was a nine year old boy. It was a message to the other children being held. In all, she says she saw hundreds of children abused.

“Sometimes I’d only see them for short times. And making a movie. Other times I’d see them for a week or two. Sometimes they didn’t make it and I wish that I could give their parents answers and I… just some peace of mind,” Linda said, fighting back tears. “I saw a lot of kids get disposed of and nobody ever has paid for any of this. I think that that’s the real tragedy of trafficking. You have to live with this your whole life and the people who do it just walk away.”

Terry Hernandez of the Chrysalis Foundation says human trafficking in Iowa is a lot more common than most Iowans realize or want to realize.

“We know that it happens on a daily basis and it’s hundreds of children, thousands of children every day are going through every state in this nation. It happens here,” she said.

The Chrysalis Foundation is working with Clear Channel to have billboards posted to raise awareness of sex trafficking. But Hernandez  says often people and police don’t realize the horrors of sex trafficking.

“Our problem is that law enforcement doesn’t recognize it.” Hernandez said, “So most of the time we’re trying to just convince officers, highway patrol to look for it.”

Linda says that’s why she agreed to talk with us.  So Iowans will know the danger is real.

“I don’t want to feel like my sister’s life was in vain. That she doesn’t exist. And i need to be her voice as well as mine,” Linda said. “It needs to be heard and things need to change.”

To learn more about sex trafficking in Iowa, you can log on to

The folks at the Chrysalis Foundation also suggest writing to state and federal lawmakers; asking for more money to train police and stiffer penalties for sex traffickers and the johns who pay them.

If you are a victim of sex trafficking, or suspect someone is, call local police.