Youth worker: 'She'd go at night to be with the only people she trusted: her abusers'

A youth worker from the north of England, writing anonymously, recalls being powerless to help a girl in care to escape from the men exploiting her

Share

My case list, like those of youth workers across the small former mill towns clustered between Manchester and the Pennines, contains girls damaged almost beyond repair by sexual exploitation. The reach of their predators, or men very like them, is known from as far north as Lancaster down to Liverpool.

I met my first "abused by many" child more than five years ago, just after I was moved into the area. She was 14 and on the couch in her care home, having refused to attend her appointment at my office, full of angry street bravado, that hardened gloss that masks, to herself and others, her deep vulnerability.

I listened as she eventually told me that the one good thing in her chaotic life was her new boyfriend, whom she had recently met, having moved into the area only a few weeks previously. She confided that he bought her presents, including her latest mobile phone, which she displayed with enthusiasm. On being asked how she had met him she told me she was introduced to him by a girl she had met on moving into this, her latest children's home.

She admitted the boyfriend supplied her and her newly acquired friends with alcohol and cannabis at parties, calling her on her new phone. So when he suggested that if she really loved him, really wanted to make him happy, she would sleep with his brother, his cousin, his uncle, his friend, she agreed. Again and again. The vodka and drugs she saw as a reward, not a necessity to numb her mind and her young body, although I was sure that would come later.

This was a young girl, a child taken into local authority care after being abused from an early age by the boyfriends of her drug-dependent mother. This, for her, was how loving relationships worked.

Unfortunately, conversations with colleagues proved she wasn't an isolated case. This was almost par for the course for area's looked-after children.

I took her case to my manager, to the manager of her care home and to Children's Social Care. The police, I was told, were aware of her situation. The residential social workers confirmed that when she absconded, they could only report her as missing and their duty of care was to inform the local police, but given the restrictions that applied to looked-after children they were unable to do anything more.

They were not allowed to lock her in at night and could not even demonstrate their affection for her, as hugging is not allowed. She decamped at night to be with the only people she trusted: the men who were trafficking and abusing her.

The police had on more than one occasion had to carry her back to the home in the early hours of the morning, incapacitated with drink. But "our hands are tied", I was told, until the police decided to take more action, or until the girl could be persuaded to press charges – against her "boyfriend".

After a couple of months of frustrating appointments during which she would scream and swear at me for even suggesting her new friends and boyfriend may not have her best interests at heart, she was moved on – back to the "care" of her mother, I was told. Just one more move in her pillar-to-post existence.

The police, in the meantime, were speaking to local imams, but to what end I was unable to determine. Even now, years on, I cannot shake the feeling that someone, somewhere decided children like her were a reasonable sacrifice to make for peaceful community relations.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the paraphernalia of a practised burglar – screwdrivers, gloves, children

Guy Keleny
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?