‘Beware of predators’ is the message a 17-year-old from the Manchester area is sending through her Fixers campaign, using her experiences of being groomed and exploited for sex to warn others about the dangers.
‘Lisa’, whose real name has not been used, says she was initially approached by a man in his 20s when she was just 13.
‘He picked me up every day, made me feel like he was my boyfriend, made me feel special, like I was protected…but I wasn’t,’ explains Lisa.
‘Most of the time whenever he tried to kiss me and stuff I’d say no, because I knew where it was leading. But I stopped saying no after a while, and just did it, because I knew that it would happen anyway.’
Lisa says she was also taken to parties, where over time she was introduced to many other men who also sexually exploited her.
‘Looking back, I feel like I was treated like a toy.
‘I was used. They didn’t really think about any of my feelings or emotions. It was almost like I just wasn’t even a person.’
Sue Hargreaves from Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is also interviewed in the film about her campaign.
‘Child sexual exploitation is really a situation where a child is manipulated into sexual activity in return for something,’ she explains.
‘Now, that something can be affection, it can be love, and quite often these children will find themselves in what they would describe as a boyfriend/girlfriend type relationship, but really they’re not.
‘The adult is very much in a situation where they’re exploiting the child purely and simply for sex.
‘I’m really impressed with what the Fixer is doing with her campaign. I think getting across the idea that these men are predators - that message I think is better coming from a teenager.’
Lisa's project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
For help and support, please visit the ChildLine website or call them on 0800 1111 anytime – calls are free and confidential.