A YOUNG girl who was plied with drugs and alcohol by a gang of men who groomed her for sex has spoken of her hell at the hands of her abusers.
The brave teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has also issued an emotional plea to others in the same situation to accept help from the police and other agencies to escape the abuse.
She was 13 when she was targeted by a group of Asian men, some married and aged from 18 to 28. Her terrifying ordeal culminated in her being given cocaine and taken to a hotel.
The girl’s powerful message came in the same week her mum spoke of the family’s harrowing experience at a Lancashire Police conference to raise awareness of work being done to tackle child sexual exploitation.
The youngster, from the local area, became a target when she went to live with her mother after the relationship with her father broke down. Isolated and with no friends, she began to hang around with her older brother and sister and their friends.
“At the start they would come round and I would sit and talk with them. Then they got more interested in me than my older brother and sister so I’d go out with them in their cars or whatever. They used to pick me up and we’d go out and do stuff,” said the girl, who now has no contact with her abusers and is in a steady relationship.
“I just felt nice that I had friends so it felt right at the time. My mum used to ring the police all the time when I didn’t come home and when I came home she’d shout at me and I’d get all aggressive and stay out until stupid o’clock. Then I’d feel bad so I’d go home but start arguments again.
“It just seemed like a dream, it was just making me happy and when everyone told me what was really happening, I felt like I needed help to sort everything out.
“Everything’s happy. I’ve moved out of my mum’s and I’ve got a steady relationship. It’s all going smoothly and I’ve no contact with any of the men any more. It’s all a lot happier.
“It’s made me realise that what I was doing was wrong. I was helped to get out of the situations and abuse. I didn’t think I wanted help but my life’s a lot better now I’m away from all that.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to the police because they helped me sort my life out.”
The girl’s mum, who has six other children, said she feared her daughter would be lured into drug addiction, prostitution or even killed before the authorities intervened.
“She was always texting the friends of her older brother, she was meeting them and started staying out at night and if I tried to ground her she would go ballistic.
“I used to wait until she had gone out then call the police. When she came home she had no explanation of where she’d been or who she’d been with. She was a stranger to me.”
The abuse came to light when graffiti of a sexual nature was found on the girl’s bedroom wall. It had been written by a man who had visited the house in the middle of the night,
It later emerged the girl had been receiving texts from several much older men who would take her out in their cars and give her alcohol. Everything came to a head when she was given cocaine and taken to a hotel.
“At the time I felt helpless and angry. I tried to confront the perpetrators but they just laughed at me. They found it highly amusing.”
The girl and her family were helped by Operation Freedom, a multi-agency task force set up to protect girls and boys from child sexual exploitation.
Months on, the girl has returned to education and is looking to the future.
Her mum added: “She is a totally different person now. I’m really, really proud of her. I would urge any parents who are worried about their children being exploited to talk to them. Just make sure. If you are wrong, fantastic.
“I was terrified of her getting addicted to drugs and into prostitution. There are girls who don’t come home.”