Quick Exit

Experiences Shared

Phoebe

All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Phoebe’s father died when she was in her mid teens. Her mother drank heavily and was violent, so Phoebe was placed in care.

She was preyed on by an older man who at first seemed to her like a father figure, but he abused her and forced her into sex work.

Although she was only in her mid teens, social services placed Phoebe in a women’s refuge. Here she met a woman who was a sex worker and a drug addict. She introduced Phoebe to an older man called Austen.

Phoebe explains that having just lost her father, she felt drawn to Austen. But he trafficked her to another part of the country, raped her and pimped her.

After suffering a violent attack whilst being forced into sex work by Austen, she was taken back into care. She told her social worker what had happened to her and was taken to a sexual health clinic, but not to the police. 

On her next birthday, Austen came back for her. He was violent towards her, and again forced her to into sex work. This pattern of abuse continued for the next few years. 

At times, she went back to her social worker and the care system, but was told that she was too old for care. She says she stopped going back to the care centre as she felt that no one was listening to her. 

She describes an existence until she was 21 that involved daily violence and having to ‘service’ scores of men a day. She says ‘I was like a little fish in a shark tank’.

She became pregnant and was violently assaulted by Austen and is now unable to have children.

Phoebe feels she was badly let down by social services. She says she understands why the social worker removed her from her mother, but not why nothing was done about Austen. She says that at one stage, the social worker told her to ‘keep it between them, and to move on’.  

She has made a complaint to the local authority and the social services regulator, but has been unable to get her social service records, and has had no support with her complaint.

More than once, Phoebe tried to report what was happening to her to the police, but at the time they were not helpful. But she has been told they have interviewed Austen recently and is waiting to hear from them. 

Phoebe suffers from anxiety, depression, PTSD and other health issues.

She says that she wishes her social worker had worked as hard to protect her from Austen as she did to take her from her mum. 

 

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