STAYING SAFE ONLINE
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I was 14 when I was referred to Safe and Sound and at first I didn’t understand why. I didn’t think I had any problems with my relationships and didn’t think I was being sexually exploited.
My support worker at Safe and Sound continued to contact me even though I wasn’t interested at first. Gradually, after taking part in some activities with Safe and Sound during the school holidays, I realised that the support worker just wanted to help and I began to talk to them about what was happening.
I had been hanging around with a group of men who would give me drugs and alcohol. They once locked me in a room which just had a bed in it and a number of men came in and out and had sex with me.
With Safe and Sound’s support, I realised that I’d been abused by these men that I thought were my friends and started to remove myself from these relationships.
When I was 13, I lived in a care home and ran away a lot. I used to hang around in the park which is where I met Jeff*. The workers in the care home kept hearing me talk about him and asking me about him but Jeff had told me not to say anything.
One day Jeff invited me to his flat to get out of the cold. He let me watch TV, eat what I wanted and drink whatever alcohol wanted too. After a while he started buying me new clothes and putting credit on my mobile though Jeff told me not to use it back at the home.
Jeff also started introducing me to his friends which made me feel important and Jeff and his friends became like family to me. Until one day he started being violent towards me and I wondered what I’d done wrong. I thought that if I just did what Jeff said, things would go back to the way they were. When the staff at the home asked me what had happened, I’d just lie and said I’d fallen over.
Things got a lot worse when Jeff started forcing me to do sexual things to him. I was really confused and didn’t want to do it but was worried I’d lose the respect of him and his friends. Afterwards I felt ashamed and couldn’t talk to anyone about it.
I started lashing out at people at the home.
Can we put the result of this in here eg what support he got?
I was 13 when I met an older man through a school friend. He was so nice; good looking, clever, grown up and he listened to me. He took me out, gave me presents. I thought we were in love.
Then one day everything changed; he changed. He asked me to sleep with other people, saying he owed them money and this was the only way he could settle his debts as he’d spent all his money on me. He said I owed him. I didn’t want them to hurt him so I agreed. One night we went to a party, he said it would be fun. He was being really nice and we went up to a bedroom. He locked the door and I could hear laughing outside. Then he let these men into the room one by one, I didn’t know them and they didn’t ask my permission to do the things they did to me. I don’t know how many days I was there, the windows were boarded up; I couldn’t see daylight or dark. I didn’t know where I was or if anyone would help me, I was so frightened.
I was lucky, the police found me during a raid on the house I had been taken to. They referred me to Safe & Sound Derby and that’s when my life started to turn around. My specialist case worker at Safe & Sound listened to me and gave me time to tell my story. She supported me to come to terms with what had happened to me; helping me to understand that I was a victim and had been manipulated, held against my will and raped. She supported me as I made decisions about what I could do next. I am in a much better place today thanks to Safe & Sound.
All names have been changed to protect the identity of the young people.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
In the eyes of the law, you are a child, and will be considered as such, until you are 18 years old. Should we include content about consent, grooming, sexting, going missing and internet safety here specifically for young people? If so which ones? Staff to input please.
I began having problems at home at an early age and ran away often when things got too hard. I was referred to Safe and Sound by a social worker but things at home were getting harder so I ran away to Birmingham to get away. I’d met a man there who let me stay with him in return for me looking after his house for him.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that he was planning on trafficking me around the country and selling me to his friends for sex. During this type I was violently raped and had severe injuries as a result. I escaped by jumping out of a window and flagging down a car which took me to hospital.
When I had recovered, I was then put back in touch with Safe and Sound and received one to one support for the ordeals I’d been through and they helped me to find suitable housing and get away from the exploitation.
One night whilst I was waiting for a bus, I got chatting to a guy called Alan* who said he had his own business and offered me some work. I agreed to meet up after school the next night to find out more.
I started doing some odd jobs for Alan like gardening and that, and skipping school to finish some of the jobs for him. I was earning more money and Alan had become a good friend and I didn’t want to let him down.
One night, Alan invited me over to his house after work as he had some jobs for me to do there too. He gave me a few cans of lager and said I could stay overnight as he had an early job to get to that he needed my help with. I started doing this regularly as I was having a rough time at home and it seemed better at Alan’s.
During a job, we got soaked, so went back to Alan’s to dry off. Alan teased me for not taking my boxers off, and then he kissed me. Alan raped me, but told me he was sorry it happened that way but it kept happening anyway.
I didn’t want to go home and I was scared about people finding out about us so I couldn’t tell anyone.
I was referred to Safe and Sound when I was 14.
Need to put in the outcome – how he was supported by S&S