All About Me

#SeriouslyAwkward – Sexual Exploitation

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That is a scary isn’t it? I know a lot of people at 16 / 17 think they can take on the world, you are at an age when you aren’t classed as a child any more, but you aren’t an adult either. You fall between the cracks in so many ways.

I was removed from child and adolescent mental health care at 16 and moved to adult, not long after coming out from hospital, but in reality I was too old for one and too young for the other, no one knew what to do with me. Which made things worse and at 17 I was admitted again for a two week stay this time to an adult mental health ward, but they couldn’t help and being in hospital often made me worse as I pick up on the suffering of those around and take it on as my own.

At the end of those two weeks I was moved to a half-way house for those with mental health issues and while I can tell you some funny stories of my time there, it also became the start of dark chapter in my life for reasons other than mental health.

You see I was groomed, this was back in the days of dial up and the existence of “WAP” websites, awful looking things that connected you to others via your mobile and it was there I was taken advantage of. I was always an open and honest person and you can probably often read me like a book. I would have told you back then I was far from vulnerable, when the truth is I really was.

I was 18 by the time I ran off to meet this man (I believe he was 32), at first he was amazing, he brought me presents, treated me like a princess, but something niggled at me under the surface. A week after our first meeting he said he was coming up to get his jacket (something I had tried to give him back as I got on the return train). I tried to put him off, but he came anyway – I should have not gone to meet him, he didn’t know my address, just my phone number, but for some reason I felt I had to and I took him “home” – he never left.

That ordeal lasted just a couple of months, within which time I was physically and emotionally abused, I was raped both where I lived and in my parents’ home, I was humiliated and forced to eat things, I was locked in the bathroom without the lights on if he thought I might “tell”, he even shaved off parts of my hair at the front as they “got in the way”.

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A neighbour finally had enough of my screams and told him where to go – for some reason he went and that was the last I saw of him. But I was left broken, I had to ask my parents if I could use the toilet, for a number of days I had to be sedated as I would freak out, saying I needed to go back to him as I didn’t know how to cope without being told when and how to do everything.

I went to live with a pair of amazing friends, friends who I truly believe saved me in the end, however I was too deep at that point and I was stuck in the cycle, it wouldn’t be till I was 21 that I finally got out of abusive relationships and began to piece my life back together.

These days I’m still affected by what happened, there are times I was flinch because memories return when someone is doing nothing more, than going to give me a hug or being silly. I still can’t stand the pitch dark, it reminds me of being shut in and I still worry what that letter might contain after he managed to run up £20,000 worth of debt.

So today I stand with The Children’s Society and ask the government to strengthen the laws to help all children being abused and exploited get the help they need.

To find out more about the #SeriouslyAwkward campaign visit The Children’s Society’s dedicated website now.

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This article has 17 comments

  1. Amy Hunt (Purely Amy)

    Sarah that’s so horrible to hear that, that happened to you (let alone anyone else). It’s one of the worst things I’ve heard! You’re an amazing woman and I’m glad you had the support of family and friends in the end to get you to where you are now, instead of where a lot of people end up after such horrible experiences.
    I’m glad you shared the story with us though, as personal experiences can really hit home and hopefully will bring about more changes in legislation, not enough is done about it. One step at a time, one awful story at a time, maybe then we’ll get some ‘justice’, eh?

    Amy x

  2. claire griffiths

    i am so sorry this happened to you i had a similar bad experience when i was younger using the wapp service. thank you for sharing your story as it may help others in this situation , x

  3. Daniella

    Sarah you are a very brave woman. This world we live in is a truly scary place and we share it with some vile people. Thank you for sharing your story, I’ve shown it to my 15 year old daughter who is far too trusting of people.

  4. Shelley Jessup

    I am so proud of you that you have the strength to speak out about what happened to you. It’s a cruel world & it is OK that sometimes we can’t cope. You are a wonderful lady Sarah & I’m so glad that you are my friend.

  5. Kim Carberry

    Oh gosh! That is terrible! I am so sorry that happened to you! So brave of you to share!
    You are amazing! Sending hugs x

  6. Claire Elizabeth Noke

    Thankyou for sharing your story, incredibly brave x x

  7. Tori Gabriel

    Woah. Was not expecting that. What a terrible thing to go through and so young. I am so glad you found the strength to break away.

  8. Georgina prince

    really and truly brave of you to share this and help raise awareness of an important issue, i can’t imagine what you must have gone through! x

  9. ana

    I remember the first time I was reading your original post about abuse and rape and I was astounded that this beautiful woman before me could have gone through so much. You always remain positive and that is a strength of character that I admire. I have never been sexually abused but I was emotionally and physically abused as you know and getting out of an abusive cycle can be difficult. I am very proud of you for being brave enough to share your story and I hope that sick monster will get what he deserves and all the other men who treated you so badly.

  10. whatlauraloves

    Gosh, its so awful that this has happened to you xx

  11. Stella Kashmoney

    WOW…Thank you for sharing this. I am sure it must have difficult for you. I am sorry you had to experience this.

  12. NINA MOTYLINSKI-DAVIES

    This is food for thought having a daughter who will be a teenager one day

  13. Charlotte

    I am so sorry you had to go through that! Thank you for being brave enough to share and raise awareness. xx

  14. Jo Hutchinson

    So sorry this happened to you and thank you for raising awareness.

  15. Sarah-Jane Laycock

    Sarah – it takes huge courage to write about heinous ordeals such as the one you have been through. You are not only a survivor but you give OTHERS hope, particularly those who are currently closetted in the same dark place and that HOPE is infinitely precious

  16. Sarah-Louise Bailey

    I want to say thank you to you all for your comments – they mean so much each and every one – I really do hope this can help someone – I know when it comes to talking about it, it helps me. If anyone wants to email me about it any time or message me on Facebook and Twitter, I don’t mind at all. <3 x

  17. Rachael

    Sarah this is such a tough read but actually one I think should be read by more people! So sorry hear the awful things you’ve gone through and I’m so pleased you’ve come out the other side – you’re a real inspiration and whilst I’ve no words of comfort I want you to know I think you’re amazing x

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