'One day you'll suss me out ... you ain't yet'

CHRISTINE'S STORY
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"Don't make a judgement that I am a complete liar. Everybody is different. So what always makes me wrong and you and the others right? Just remember you don't own me, I'm not your possession, although I have sometimes felt that way.

"Social services, child guidance have taken everything I have to give and labelled me with so many different names. One day you'll finally suss me out cos you ain't yet, not by a long chalk. Anyway, thanks for being my social worker."

These remarks from Christine, a young girl abused at home and in care, were passed on to the inquiry panel which was told no one believed what she said and that police called her a liar, threatening to arrest her for wasting their time.

But the young child, barely out of primary school, had all the classic symptoms of someone who had been sexually abused at home before she went into care - where she also the subject of abuse. She tried to kill herself, slept on the floor fully clothed, never opened the curtain, did not eat; she refused to take part in physical education at school and she refused to clean her teeth, wanting them to turn brown. In addition, her young brother was soiling the bed and her sister suffered from asthma. But the young child's desperate calls for help were ignored by care workers.

Professional reports in her file say "these allegations are unfounded". She had a "proneness to fantasy" and was a "deeply troubled young person". She is described in her file as a convincing liar, as someone who cannot be telling the truth because she speaks with no emotion and unlike a child.

Police who investigated the allegations of abuse against her father labelled the girl as a "fantasist" and also pointed out clues like the "books and letters which show her talent for story writing". The Jillings report says: "The police clearly believed she told untruths and reinterviewed her and during this interview she retracted her original allegations."

Police visited her home after the allegations and found her room in an appalling state. Christine is said not to have eaten since the time her father returned. Another file discloses sexual assault by both her father and step-grandfather. "There is a query about whether the step-grandfather had a history of sexually abusing children, but it appears not to have been investigated," reveals the Jillings report. It adds: "The picture emerges of a young woman who had high levels of contact with her family of origin, whose behavioural presentation is wholly consistent with experience of sexual abuse or some other traumatic abusive experience."

It goes on: "However, a clear message was evident from the police that there would be no further action regarding Christine's disclosure." Christine later made allegations against residential care staff and one person was later sacked, partly on the basis of her information.

The report adds: "It is clear that the professional network with whom Christine was in contact failed to have regard to any academic literature on sexual abuse. Her behaviour indicators were classic symptoms."

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