I was referred to Safe and Sound when I was 12 years old.
I was missing a lot of school, things weren’t great at home either and I started hanging around the streets with a friend.
Cars would drive past us and beep. The men inside, who were always older, would shout that we were sexy and beautiful. We started hanging around the streets at night too.
One day we met a man who must have been about 30 and I started seeing him, he was nice to me, I would see him every day. He invited us to his friend’s house where we would drink alcohol and listen to music.
I would stay out all night. Once we were on our own in the bedroom and he was touching me and I just let him do it. I just thought it was normal.
When I was 13 I was sitting on some steps outside with my friend, it was quite late, it was cold and two older men pulled up.
They asked us to get in the car and said they would get us more alcohol so we agreed. Then they parked in a car park and I got in the back seat with one of the men while my friend was in the front with the other.
He was pouring vodka into a coke bottle for me and then he started touching me. I didn’t understand what was going on but I let him carry on as he’d been so nice to me. Now I know it was sexual assault.
Me and my friend were meeting different, older men every night.
I was kicked out of school and lost the support of a teacher who I’d been close to. One night we ended up in a man’s flat and he said to my friend to come into the bedroom. The door was blocked by a settee and I went into the room where my friend was and she was being raped. She got dressed and ran past me and we managed to get out.
After that we were hanging around the streets again and ended up in a guy’s flat. When we were in there he flipped and locked the door and said we owed him money. He was doing drugs and going berserk, smashing things. He never touched us but it was really scary, I was on the floor having a panic attack but my friend was calm and controlled. I thought I was going to die. He finally let us out and we ran.
Later, another man came into my life, he was older than me and at first it began with buying me drink and letting me stay in his flat. He would touch me but I didn’t like him like that. He forced himself on me, I wasn’t ready, I was 15. He raped me and did it more than once.
I don’t think all this stopped until I was 17. I was depressed and on medication and I just stayed at home. I didn’t disclose anything and never went into detail.
Now I’m so much more confident thanks to Safe and Sound, when I was in that relationship they told me that I was better than that. I was meeting with someone from Safe and Sound once a week and they were telling me this each time I saw them so it started sinking in. It was drummed into me.
They would tell me about what was happening to me and what should be happening to me.
Now I’m moving on and I’m out of CSE. I know I don’t want that life any more. I have learnt from what happened to me and now it fuels my future.
I loved coming to Safe and Sound and I really don’t want to think about what my life would be like now if I hadn’t been able to get help.
If you or someone you know is under 18 and is experiencing or has been through a similar experience to Ellie* and would like support, please fill in the form below and we will get back to you.
*Name has been changed to protect the young person’s identity