Where were the parents?

 In Child Sexual Exploitation, New Resource

The following quotes are taken from a discussion with a girl who was a victim of sexual exploitation by multiple perpetrators for over a year. Her comments on her parents’ role in this might surprise and shock by showing that even with caring and protective parents a child can be at risk.

When my case came out in the news people were asking “where were the parents?” but my mum and dad were there the whole time. They were trying to lock me in the house, not in a bad way, but to try to stop me getting hurt. Sometimes I’d climb from the top floor window, or I’d start arguments so that I could storm out without needing an excuse.

I was a completely different person. I was filled with like anger because I thought well if I don’t get out now, they might come get my parents or my sister, or it’s only going to be worse next time.

Mum and dad were doing everything they could. They were even trying to get stuff off my phone to find out where I was going, and they were ringing the police as much as they could. Sometimes the police would say “we’ve got to wait 24 hours” and “she’s always go missing”, but others in the police were amazing and sent someone to help try to find me straight away.

As things went on, they knew what was happening, so they’re obviously sat at home thinking “is she alive?” A police officer even said to them “if your daughter doesn’t get out of this soon, she’s gonna end up dead.” It must have been so nerve wracking.

They tried to do everything they could. They even tried trackers on me and told the police the locations I was at. The men would take my phone and read messages between me and my parents and try to confuse them. One man got Burger King delivered to his house and took pictures of the food and sent them to my parents so he could pretend we were at Burger King.

Once they knew my parents were more on ball and didn’t want me leaving the house, they’d get me from other places like school or just down the road. I wasn’t really thinking about my parents, I just tried to block that out because I felt guilty that they were being put through this.

I’d completely changed as a person. My parents didn’t recognise me. Before this I’d never even had a detention in school, never been sent out or anything and then as soon as this started happening, I was being sent out with classes all the time or I was running out of school. I’d just sit on my phone in class if they took one phone off me, I just get another one.

What happened to the girl and her family was not their fault. They were victims of perpetrators of child sexual exploitation who knew how to groom, control, and exploit young people.

To help combat sexual exploitation it helps to reduce stigmas and finger pointing to help families work with services to try to make victims safer and begin to get out of a horrendous situation.

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