Rotherham abuse survivor's new battle to raise awareness

By Michael Upton | 28/04/2016 0 comments

Rotherham abuse survivor's new battle to raise awareness

A CAMPAIGNING child sex abuse survivor has explained why she was keen to play a key role in producing a new video to help spare others from the same fate.

The woman, known only as Jessica, finally achieved justice when her abuser, Arshid Hussain, was jailed for 35 years in February for offences against 12 girls.

Jessica, who is a member of a survivors and families group based at Swinton Lock Activity Centre, was interviewed by the production team behind the new video for all health workers, titled Child sexual exploitation: Professional Curiosity.

Clips of Jessica being interviewed with her identity hidden are interspersed with scenes showing how a fictional grooming and abuse victim’s situation develops and becomes more desperate, with a pharmacist and school nurse failing to intervene to help her.

The 15-minute video produced by Health Education England will be shown to NHS staff — including pharmacists, GPs and emergency service crews — to help them spot the signs of child sexual exploitation.

Jessica explained: “The production company got in touch with me and I told them I would do it as I do a lot of campaigning and I think CSE is an issue that needs tackling from all angles.

“From my own experience, I know I spoke to a lot of health professionals and there needs to be a lot more work done there so I was pleased to get on board and help in any way I could.

“They wanted a victim to come on board as when you hear about it from someone that has experienced it it is powerful, that’s why I was keen to speak out.

“Professionals need to be shown the signs and know what to be looking out for.”

Health Education England and the Department of Health, who worked together on the video, said it “seeks to support healthcare and others such as community pharmacists identify the signs of child sexual exploitation in vulnerable young people”.

Jessica said the survivors and relatives group at Swinton Lock, which is playing a key role in drafting a national plan on how to prevent and tackle CSE, aimed to produce its own education videos.

“There needs to be more than one video as you can’t show everything in just 15 minutes, especially as my experience could be very different to other people’s,” she said.

“As part of our work with the National Plan on CSE we are going to be doing our own videos for all sectors so they can use them for training.

“The videos will be for police, social workers and all other sorts of professionals. CSE needs tackling from all angles because the more people that are aware of it the more children we can protect from it.”

Jessica said it was vital to help both adults and children spot the signs of CSE.

“I remember before I recognised myself as a victim of CSE someone was speaking to me about another girl’s experiences and saying she was trafficked,” she said.

“I though that was not what was happening to me so I was not a victim.
“But everyone’s experience is different. I’ve said that if you put 100 CSE victims in a room the one thing they would each have in common is that they were a victim.

“I think there is a lot more awareness now. It is always in the news but how many kids actually watch the news?

“The older generation are aware of it but kids need to know how to recognise the signs because I know I didn’t.”

Jessica said she felt more needed to be done to support victims of CSE both when they were being groomed and abused and after coming forward for help.

She praised the work of staff at Swinton Lock, which is run by former Risky Business youth project manager Jayne Senior, but said not everyone was as lucky as her.

“It’s one experience to come forward, another to go through the investigation and going through court and they need to be supported at every stage,” she said.

“I’ve always had Swinton Lock to turn to. Every time I have had a breakdown or needed someone to talk to I’ve been able to call and speak to someone whatever time of the day or night. Everybody needs that support.

“I would not have made it to court without them.

“Whatever problems a CSE victim has, whether it is with housing, mental health, physical health of anything else, that’s where the support worker should come in.

“It’s important that they are not just there from nine to five, too, because meltdown can happen at any time, so it needs to be 24/7.

“They also need a centre where they can come with whatever problems and they will be dealt with.

“That’s what I have with Swinton Lock, and it’s what everyone should have.

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