A survivor of child sexual exploitation who feels she didn’t receive enough support from services is campaigning to prevent the same thing happening to other young people.
Alisa*, whose real name has not been used, was groomed from the age of 13.
She has teamed up with Fixers to create a leaflet to help people spot the signs of CSE.
You can view it below.
The 17-year-old says: ‘My experience began when I moved to a new home. I had no friends and was feeling isolated.
‘I started talking to a 19-year-old man online. He was supportive and understanding and he made me feel safe and secure. I trusted him and so did my family.
‘Our friendship grew and he became a brotherly figure. When things became difficult at home and school he was always there to protect and care for me. He made me feel he was the only one there.’
Alisa says that things took a turn for the worse when her abuser persuaded her to move in with him.
‘He said mum wasn’t caring for me and provided me with a place to stay,’ she says.
‘I thought I was going to a safe and stable place with the only person who seemed to care for me, but I became trapped.
‘He controlled my phone, telling me mine was broken so I had to use his. I couldn’t contact anyone without him knowing.’
Alisa feels that services failed to realise she was in trouble.
‘My social worker visited but we never got an opportunity to talk alone. He had convinced my social worker he was caring for me when my mother wasn’t,' she says.
‘He was in full control and had all of the power. He manipulated social services and used his knowledge of me against me.
‘My social worker and other professionals didn’t recognise the signs and I was left to be abused.’
Alisa eventually reached out for help.
‘After fighting my abuser off, I contacted my mother on his phone who later arranged to collect me. We went to the police and they believed me. I was video interviewed and he was arrested immediately,’ she says.
Alisa's leaflet features tips that would have helped her, different examples of CSE and where you can go if you have concerns.
She wants to share it with professionals to make sure they don’t miss vital warning signs.
She says: ‘I’m still on my way to recovery and the investigation is ongoing but with the right support and determination I’m not going to let this ruin my life.’
Alisa's project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.