I’m Olivia and I’m a survivor of child sexual exploitation. For confidentiality reasons my name and the name of the perpetrator have been changed.
I met Dave on an instant messaging site. He told me he was the same age as me; I was 13.
After he added me, we started talking and he seemed really nice and was paying me lots of compliments.
After a few days of chatting, he asked me to send him pictures of myself and I agreed. I thought I trusted him at the time, but now I know he was grooming me.
Dave quickly started threatening me, saying: “if you don’t send me more pictures of yourself, I’m going to show the pictures you’ve already sent me to your friends and family.”
I was terrified of people finding out what I’d done and felt like my life was quickly getting out of control.
I eventually told my mum but I was really scared and didn’t know what was going to happen next. I thought I would be in trouble, especially with the police. Disclosing what happened to me to the police wasn’t a nice experience; they made me feel like it was my fault.
I was allocated a Social Worker but I only saw her twice. An assessment was carried out and I didn’t find this helpful at all. It seemed as though the social worker was only interested in finding out whether I had my own bedroom and just asked questions that I couldn’t see the point of.
A big meeting was then held to discuss me and what had happened. There were so many people there that I didn’t know and had never met before. One of them didn’t even get my name right which annoyed me.
As a result of that meeting, I was referred to Safe and Sound. I’d never heard of them before and to be honest, it just felt like there were way too many people involved now and I’d had enough of people involving themselves in my life.
When my Safe and Sound Support Worker came round I was so nervous, I just cried for most of the visit, but she continued to work with me and be there for me the entire time I needed it. I needed consistency; I didn’t want to keep going over the same things with different people.
My Support Worker was there for me at my own pace and saw me at my own home which was where I felt safest and most comfortable.
I was also allocated an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) at Safe and Sound which was also a big help as she took on the worry of the police investigation, obtaining updates and keeping me informed even if there were no updates.
My ISVA explained what was happening at each stage of the investigation which made it easier for me to try and resume my normal routine and get on with my life as best as I could.
When my case went to court, Dave pleaded guilty. It was such a relief as I never wanted to go to court. However, I did want to know what he looked like but now I do, it’s really confusing because he didn’t look as I expected him to.
I feel happy knowing that I got my justice and he didn’t get away with it; he will be punished for what he did to me.
What happened to me was an awful experience. My family are relieved it’s all over but we don’t really discuss it. My dad in particular really struggled with what happened to me.
I am much more confident now though, partly because I had justice but also because I continue to be involved with Safe and Sound.