Flashpoint Extra: Hoping to save others, family of human trafficking victim shares daughter's story

Flashpoint
January 31, 2020 - 3:21 pm
Jenay and Nicole Brooks.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and a Philadelphia woman whose 15-year-old daughter fell victim to traffickers is sharing their story. She's hoping by coming out of the shadows, they can help other girls.

"There were traffickers out there selling her for their material gain," said Nicole Brooks, a mother of eight who is now an activist working to stop human trafficking. "They use the young girls to lure the other girls."

Brooks says her daughter Amadi was just 15 when she fell in love with a boy named Anthony Brooks. 

"He was handsome. He had the same last name, and everything about his life mirrored our lives," she said, "and she was very excited, unbeknowing, this is the boy that is going to be convicted of human trafficking." 

The first time Amadi disappeared in 2009, it took weeks for her to return and the family filed a missing persons report. 

Brooks says police assumed she was a runaway. 

"They brushed it off like we were overreacting," said Jenay Brooks, Amadi's oldest sister.

She says they put up fliers, went on social media and walked the neighborhood. The family says Amadi was stopped by police a month later, and she tried to use one of her sister's IDs. 

When Amadi returned, she was different.

"She was sassy," said her sister. "She got a taste of fast month, her own money."

Over time, the disappearances turned more sinister.

"We would get distress codes," said Nicole Brooks. 

The family traced Amadi all over the country. They found her held in hotels. Sometimes, they had to get police involved to get her out.

"She was afraid," said Nicole Brooks.

"They always came back for her," said Jenay "They would take her ID and burn her with cigarettes on her face and hands."

"By 18 they had turned her out on drugs," their mother added. 

The family stopped going to police for help and took the matter in their own hands, but police eventually traced Anthony Brooks. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking in Bucks County. 

At the time, they were preparing to take Amadi overseas.

"I would have never seen her again," said Nicole.

Now Amadi is free, but struggling.

"She's not the same person. She won't ever be the same person again," said Jenay Brooks.

"I call her the butterfly because she has been through a transformation," said Nicole Brooks.

For their full story and tips on how to identify the most vulnerable, listen to the Flashpoint podcast below: