1. CSE takes many different forms from rape and sexual assault to online grooming and encouraging children to share inappropriate images of themselves.
2. CSE can have a huge and lasting impact ona child’s short, medium and long-term mental health and emotional well-being. Jane’s horrific experience of abuse seriously affected her self-esteem – leaving her increasingly vulnerable to CSE predators.
3. An important part of Safe and Sound’s work is to support victims and their families through the process of perpetrators being charged and appearing in court
Overcoming feelings of guilt and recognising that the exploitation and abuse she suffered was not her fault has been crucial to Jane starting to turn around her life.
Jane (not her real name) was just 14 when her mum’s boyfriend started to sexually abuse her when they were alone in the house.
Constantly facing threats that he would harm her family if she did not keep quiet, her behaviour at school deteriorated and her self-worth plummeted.
These feelings steering her towards the internet where she was increasingly more vulnerable to online predators who are searching for young people with low self-esteem.
As part of the multi-agency support with school and Social Care and with a top-level Child Protection Order in place, a specialist support worker from Safe and Sound started to work with Jane on a one to one basis to help her come to terms with what had happened.
Jane initially felt both angry and guilty – thinking that she was somehow to blame for the sexual abuse which understandably led to Jane feeling scared and reluctant to open up.
For this reason, her support worker felt it would be best to use more interactive resources to help raise her awareness of online safety, grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse.
Jane was also supported through the criminal justice process which resulted in the abuser receiving a lengthy prison sentence for the sexual abuse with the truth unfolding that her mum had effectively been groomed by him solely to be able to abuse her young daughter.
Now aged 16, Jane has built up a good relationship with her Safe and Sound support worker.
Her confidence has grown and she is much more able to recognise the manipulative and exploitative behaviour of sexual predators.
She has returned to school and her family relationships are much more positive – with the Safe and Sound support worker helping her parents to come to terms with their own guilt about what had happened and encouraging open communication within the family.
Jane’s progress is such that she is now keen to be an advocate with Safe and Sound – working with other young people to raise their awareness of sexual exploitation and abuse.