Short story based on local information given to us about sexual exploitation. Grooming takes many forms and many abusers will gain the trust of their victims over time, however this story shows how Danielle was groomed and how abusers can use drugs for their dark motives. What happened to Danielle was not her fault and she was targeted by the men.
01. Ever since I was a kid there have been lads hanging round the park. I used to walk round to avoid them and there were all kinds of rumours about them. As I got older they started shouting stuff, like “Oi sexy!” and I just kept my head and walked more quickly.
02. As I got a bit older I started to recognise some of them from school. One day one of the lads shouted across “Danielle!”, I kept walking, “Danielle!” this time it was a girl’s voice and I recognised her from school too. “You all right?” she asked, “Yeah, you?” I replied, “Come over!” she called and I suppose I had to go across.
03. They were all right really; friendly and taking the piss out of each other. Someone said they were just trying to impress the new girl. I was quiet, but kinda liked hanging out with them and I wondered why I’d always avoided them. It was getting dark and I had to go, but they made me promise I’d come back tomorrow, as they put it: “it’s Friday, you have to come!” I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing that night. I knew they’d tell me not to, but two of the older girls had come up to me at school in front of my other friends to check I was still coming out. My friends were surprised, but I just played it down and said I just hung out with them sometimes.
04. I was really nervous about going out that night. I didn’t know what to wear, if they really wanted me there, what we’d even be doing! They were all right with me when I got there. There were some older guys there too and they were really funny and sharing cigs and drink around. I kept looking at my phone to check the time, I’d be ok for another couple of hours.
05. Later we went into the park where we were more out of the way. One of the guys was passing a joint around, it came to me and I said I didn’t do drugs. I thought they’d laugh at me, but they didn’t. They said it wasn’t a drug, that it wasn’t even illegal. They even showed me the packet and I could see it was all natural ingredients. I just went with it. I’d never felt like this before!
06. Everything felt different. Like my brain was thinking too fast and then too slow. My heart was going crazy and some of the others told me to relax and enjoy it, but I felt paranoid. One of the guys I’d hardly even spoken to, sat with me and started to talk me through it. Saying I should relax and that I’d feel better soon. He started touching me on the knee and then moving his hand up onto my thigh. I knew the others were watching, but they started to turn away.
07. I was numb. He touched me all over, inside my jeans, under my top and he put my hand down his pants too. I didn’t try to leave, I was just so scared and he kept telling me that this would help me relax and that it should be making me feel better. I wanted to tell him to stop, tell him that I was just 13 and I should have been home by now… but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
08. I got home before dad got back from the pub so I just went straight to my room. My brain still not quite understanding what had happened. Was this normal? Was this what hanging out on a Friday meant? I mean, they’d been good to me. Was this just how things would be now?
It’s not okay for someone to manipulate you into doing sexual things for their own or someone else’s benefit. If you’re under 18, this is called child sexual exploitation and it is against the law.
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.