15 June 2014
Sometimes it’s easy to think that something is only happening to you. It’s difficult to talk about because it’s completely isolating. You can be surrounded by people, but you’re hiding behind a wall so you can’t connect with them. You’ve never felt more alone.
Unfortunately child sexual exploitation is not a small scale problem. This is something that is not just happening to one or two children. Between April 2012 and March 2013 police recorded 23,000 sex offences against children under 18 in England and Wales – and nearly 19,000 of those were under the age of 16. It is also one of the most unreported crimes. The number of individuals it is likely to have affected is a staggeringly high number. More than one in three children who had experienced contact sexual abuse by an adult did not tell anyone about it – which means that figure could be only the tip of the iceberg.
It’s not something that is easy to talk about. You might be embarrassed, ashamed, you might feel guilty and like it’s somehow your fault or you deserved to be treated in that way. Child sexual exploitation is a form of abuse. We want to stop it.
The Facts and Figures
60% of 13-18 year olds who took part in a ChildLine survey had been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves. 40% had created one, and 25% had sent that image or video to someone else.
One in twenty children have been sexually abused. Of those, over 90% were abused by someone they knew.
There are lots of consequences of child sexual exploitation, both immediate, and others that might materialise further down the line. If you have been sexually exploited as a child or young person it is likely to be one of your first experiences of sex and of love. Without a more healthy relationship, this type of treatment might seem normal to you. You might even feel loyalty towards the person who is doing these things to you. It can often take someone else seeing what is happening, or a later realisation to truly accept that what happened is wrong.
The good news
There are loads of charities and services out there that have been set up specifically with the intention of helping out young people who have been affected – directly, or indirectly – by sexual exploitation. And we’re here to offer help and support. Have a look at the other pages on this site for the services we offer. These include befriending, Girls Group, runaway service and the helpline. We have a specialised youth service for young people who are vulnerable to or have been exploited. We are not just a helpline service.
We’re excellent listeners here at the Rose Campaign, so if you need to get something off your chest, or you want to find out who would be the best support network for you, call up for free, confidential support (0808 800 1037), or speak to us via our live chat facility on our website.
There’s lots of reasons you might choose not to talk to anyone about what you’re going through, or how it makes you feel, but bottling things up won’t make them go away, so call us for free, and let us help.