Connor was threatened and blackmailed at a time when he was figuring out who he was. Young people from stricter families and communities can find themselves more vulnerable and we need to look out for them. Conor looked online to figure out what his feeling meant, opening up a can of worms that lead to blackmail and threats.
“I didn’t realise how drunk I was…”
01. Travelling around in the caravan, I’ve always had to make friends quickly and I’ve become pretty good at it. I’ve never had a girlfriend like the other kids in our group though, it might be because we hitch up and move after like a month, so it’s never been worth it, but I guess it may have been something else…
02. I’ve noticed that I get along with guys more than girls, I’ve kissed a few girls but I get just as excited when I make close mates with a lad. I thought the feelings I got were just how friends feel, but we pitched up by one of those gay bars when my dad started ranting on and on about it, so, I did some research.
03. I found a sub-reddit were people can post pictures to each other, it was no big deal, everyone was doing it. I’d found a board for people up North. There were some nice lasses on there, but one of the guys caught my eye. He’d posted a photo with his snapchat name, I figured I’d add him. Y’know, for a laugh.
04. We started snapping straight away and he said he thought I was special. None of my mates had said that to be before, not even the girls. He told me his name was Dan so I could add him of Facebook. We messaged each other for hours, my mates were started to joke around about my ‘new girlfriend’. I couldn’t tell them that I was talking to a guy, they’d laugh at me, call me gay and shit.
05. I told Dan I like girls, but I like him too. He told me I’m bi-curious like him and no one else would understand. So we sent each other pictures, but I’d delete them straight away. If my dad knew he’d get me kicked out of the community, I can’t do that to my family. I’ve only got Dan, he’s the only one who understands.
06. Dad said we were moving on soon, away from the town. Dan told me we should meet before I move too far away, he said he wanted to buy me a drink, talk about the stuff only we could talk about. I’m so glad I’ve got a mate like him.
07. He got an hour’s train just to see me! He said we should go to his mate’s house, so no one would see us together. When we were there, he kissed me. I told him I wasn’t gay, but he just said we were “experimenting”.
08. His mate got his camera out and we began drinking vodka and taking photos. Some of them were really rude. I started feeling a bit sick but I didn’t feel like I could back out. What if anyone saw them? This was too risky.
09. Afterwards I told Dan that we shouldn’t speak anymore, made up an excuse about moving too far away, that things were getting weird. We were just mates right? He got angry but let me go.
10. The next morning, I woke up to texts from Dan. They were the photos from last night! I’d gotten way more pissed than I thought. He told me I needed to send more photos for him to enjoy, or else he’d post them on the internet and message all my friends.
11. I took photos of everything, more than he asked for, just to keep him quiet. I had to do it, no one could find out! I had no one to turn to, no one would understand. I was a freak and I’d let my community down.
Do not ignore the warning signs if you or a friend are at risk of sexual exploitation. See http://notinourcommunity.org/get-help/ to understand the options for help.
Names and other details have been changed to protect victims’ identities.