Ellie’s Story: Grooming during lockdown
Ellie’s Story is a new story that shows how vulnerable some young people become during lockdown. It’s a topical story that some people may be able to relate to. At the end of part 1, we asked young people if they thought Ellie was doing the right thing by organising to meet up with someone she has met online.
Part 2 showed the outcome of Ellie meeting up with someone online, which turned out to be a dangerous situation for Ellie.
It was a warm night so I sat out the front on my phone til Parker showed up.
1. Before the first lockdown I’d say I had quite a lot of mates. My mam is pretty chill and would let me out and about whenever I wanted or have mates round, and most of my mates parents were annoying and strict so we’d always end up round my end. Mam used to go to pub up the road most evenings to play cards so we’d have the house to ourselves.
2. Lockdown made things so different though and by summer I was sick of things. This was not how I wanted to spend my freedom before having GCSE’s nd that to think about. My sister, Lillie, went to live with her dad so she could get to her job at big Tesco without using a bus, so it was just me and mam. Nana had bought us a Switch at Christmas so I mainly just played on that. We have a tiny back deck thing as a garden and mam spent most of her time sat back there with a beer.
3. I sit out the front and watch the neighbours. It’s pretty warm when the sun’s out so I sit on my phone or playing a game. None of my mates have been about cos their parents won’t bring them here so I’ve just been stalking people in Insta. A guy called Parker who used to go to my school followed me and we’ve been chatting. He’ll message me to check up every day, unlike my so-called mates.
4. Me and mam did a Zoom call with Lilie, her dad and Nana, but mam ended up arguing with everyone. They’ve always had a go at her for having a drink but she says it’s only a few beers. Although since we’ve been around each other at home cos everything is closed, I noticed cans piling up and she’s always bringing a bag back from the off-licence when she goes for a daily walk.
5. Parker video calls me at night. I’ll sit in the kitchen or on the front doorstep. Mam is usually out like a light by the time the news comes on at 10 so it doesn’t really matter where I go. Parker is pretty cool, he has a car and is super independent. He just turned 18 so promised me that when lockdown is over he will borrow his cousin’s ID and take me out in old town. He promised he’d drive by my house tomorrow night.
6. I think I fancy Parker. One of my mates from school messaged me today about some work Miss had set, cba with school right now. Parker says I’ll hardly need it to get through college anyway and COVID has screwed up how everything works now. He managed to get a real good part time job working nights and he hasn’t got good grades.
7. I got properly dressed for the first time in weeks, even did my hair in a bun thing on my head. Mam had been on her daily shop run by 5pm and we had beans on toast. She said I looked nice and invited me on another Zoom with Lillie but I think she forgot, she was sat out the back with her beers by 7. It was a warm night so I sat out the front on my phone til Parker showed up.
Do you think Ellie is doing the right thing?
It’s not too late for Ellie to change her mind and not meet Parker, who she doesn’t really know apart from who he says he is online.
8. We chatted out the front while he sat in his car for an hour. He asked me where mam was and I explained she never really was about. He seemed to smile at that and invited me in for a drive. I did wanna, but I thought we might get in trouble so said no. He shrugged and drove off. I felt like an idiot little kid for saying no and he messaged me saying he was disappointed and he thought tonight was when he could kiss me. I was proper grinning til I went to sleep.
9. Parker is proper flirty now and we video call like every night and Snapchat all the time. I moved our calls up to my room cos he often asks me to take clothes off. He invited me on a drive and reassured me that it would only be for a few hours. He said he needed to see me and couldn’t wait til lockdown was over. I wasn’t sure we should, and said I felt like a hypocrite for breaking the rules. He told me he wasn’t sure if I really loved him if I wasn’t even willing to risk the whole COVID thing. I felt stupid and wanted to show him I did love him. We were going to go drive tonight.
10. I borrowed my mam’s flared leggings and wore one of the hoodies my sister’s boyfriend left behind some time. Mam had settled in the living room so I snuck a couple of beers out the fridge and some cigs from a pack in the drawer. I had them under my hoodie and went to wave to mam, telling her I was going for a walk with one of the girls. She waved at me and smiled but she didn’t really seem to register. Parker was pulled up outside so I slipped out and we sped right off. He seemed taller than I remember from our first meeting and he hardly spoke, just kept touching my leg.
11. We drove through town and down into some villages. Parker said there was less police round cos posh people don’t get monitored as much. I took a beer out and he asked for one too. He pretty much downed his but I didn’t really like mine and he noticed. He took out rolled up cig and offered it over telling me it’ll chill me out. Turns out it had weed in it and he basically insisted I had the full thing. After that we made out. I felt weird and sick but I went with it. He was very touch-feely and it made me uncomfortable.
12. He tried to pull me onto his seat, pushing my hoodie up. I tried to push him off but he was stronger than me and I felt really weird after smoking whatever he gave me. He made me get onto the back seat and he forced himself on me. I hadn’t gone that far with anyone yet and it was horrid. I was cold and embarrassed and wanted to go home. Once he had had enough he silently drove me home.
13. He didn’t message me until the afternoon the next day. He was a bit blunt with me but when I asked what was wrong he said it was nothing a photo wouldn’t fix. I had taken a few photos of myself with most clothes on but this time he told me to get a shower. I said I didn’t want to but he called me frigid and said I shouldn’t underestimate him. I didn’t answer him and tried to ignore my phone but it started blowing up while I sat watching TV with mam. He was calling me and messaging me. He said he was the only one there for me. I looked at my mum as she watch the TV with eyes glazed over.
14. Parker was right, he was the only one who’d been there for me during lockdown. All my mates were using me and my mum because she is laid back compared to their parents, and now lockdown has cut us all off, they couldn’t care less. I messaged them about Parker but they said he was weird, they just don’t get it. Parker and I messaged more and more, and after a while the shower pics didn’t seem like a big deal so I sent them.
15. Now we are back in lockdown for the third time, I don’t think I can cope with being around mam all the time. She seemed to get better and cut out alcohol more when she had to go back to work again but now pubs are closed and she got put back on furlough, she’s just as bad if not worse. Parker and me have been seeing each other most of the time. He passed my snapchat handle onto some mates who message me for pictures. I was freaked out at first as I didn’t know who any of these guys were, but then I remembered how Parker loves me and I don’t want to let him down. So, now I do and send them whatever they ask. It’s just something I do now.
What should Ellie do now? Is this normal for a healthy, loving relationship that she thinks she’s in?
Being in lockdown can lead to boredom and many of us turning to social media and communicating with others on there.
If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, speak to a trusted adult.
If you need to report anything, you can call 101 to speak to local police. If you believe you or someone you know could be in immediate danger, call 999.