By Sammy Woodhouse For The Mail On Sunday
Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!
3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here
Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour
Saturday, 14 April 2018
Gut-Wrenching Story of a Child Sex Exploitation Survivor
One Survivor's Story
Woman raped as a child by grooming gang reveals how police accused her of being a 'child prostitute' and threatened to take her children away
By Sammy Woodhouse For The Mail On Sunday
Last week, Sammy Woodhouse told in heartbreaking detail how she had been groomed for sex as a schoolgirl by a notorious paedophile gang in Rotherham – and was then betrayed by the authorities. (Sorry, no links to this).
- Sammy Woodhouse was forced to commit crimes by one of the Rotherham child grooming gang - and now has a criminal record
- Fury as UK judges deny thousands of child abuse victims compensation (2nd story on link)
- 'IT’S HAPPENING EVERYWHERE' (2nd story on link)
Today, in the final extract from her new book, Sammy reveals how coming to terms with years of abuse led her into a spiral of depression, guilt and thoughts of suicide. Yet worse was to come.
Despite launching a brave quest to bring her abuser to justice, she was again failed by the police and social services and, in the process, faced losing her children. Here, with remarkable courage, Sammy describes how she successfully battled to expose one of the greatest child protection scandals of modern times.
I’ll never forget the moment. It was the autumn of 2012 and I was standing in a queue at a petrol station when I glanced at the front pages of the newspapers. My stomach dropped to the floor. There, in black and white, were allegations from leaked files suggesting three unnamed Asian brothers were known to have groomed and abused young teenage girls in Rotherham from 1999 to 2001, but had never been prosecuted.
The reports were horrifying – 54 girls had believed that one of these men was her boyfriend. Eighteen thought they were the girlfriend of the ringleader. Sickened, I realised with certainty that the men were my former boyfriend, Arshid ‘Ash’ Hussain, and his brothers Basharat and Bannaras, known as Bash and Bono. It was more than a decade after my relationship with Ash had ended, and here I was, finally confronting the appalling truth of what had happened to me as a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
Sammy Woodhouse, pictured, realised with certainty that the men accused of grooming and abusing teenager girls in Rotherham were her former boyfriend and his brothers
Our entire relationship raced through my head. We’d drifted apart, wasn’t that the truth of it? When I reached 16, things went wrong. Sixteen. The thought made me feel nauseous. Ash was most interested in me when I was underage. I’d never wanted to listen. I’d put my family through hell fighting to be with him.
I’d always denied being ‘groomed’, whatever that was. The penny finally dropped. At home, I fell to the floor, crying hysterically. I felt like I’d fallen into a black hole I’d never be able to climb out of. I was now 27, and the past 13 years of my life had been a big, fat lie. But if I thought the authorities would help me now, I was sadly mistaken. Even now, as the sordid truth emerged, I had a fight on my hands…
Since my relationship with Ash had ended in 2001, Mum had died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage and I thought about the hell I’d put her through. By early 2013, I was struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. I stopped eating and self-harmed, punishing myself over what I’d done to my family.
Ash had destroyed my life when I was a child and was now destroying it all over again. How I’d been living my life started to make sense. I’d become a topless model and lapdancer so effortlessly, so robotically. Ash had brainwashed me to think it was normal to be treated as nothing more than a sex object. I had no self-respect, no self-esteem. He took those things away from me and left me an empty shell.
I thought my two children – Ash’s son James, by now 11, and Reece, six, born from a subsequent relationship – would be better off without me. But one NHS mental health worker reported me in disgust to social services, claiming it was ‘unacceptable’ to admit I was suicidal in front of my children. Social services said my case wasn’t severe enough. I was passed around every support service in Rotherham, but nobody was geared up to help a grooming victim like me.
Memories from those days made me so angry it hurt. My foster carers and social workers had been adults trained in caring for and protecting children. What if the police had prosecuted Ash the first time I’d got pregnant, or for the girls he abused before me? To make matters worse, Ash – who’d been briefly in touch with James some time previously – kept ringing and messaging. When I called him a paedophile, he threatened to have me killed, but after reporting the threat to police they said the dispute was ‘domestic’ and I should ignore it. They even blamed me for ‘provoking’ him.
I felt abandoned and betrayed by everyone in authority all over again. It felt like nobody was answering my cries for help, and I was too weak and broken to keep on crying. Eventually, I was diagnosed with severe depression and, following a breakdown, began telling my story from the beginning to Nikki, an emergency social worker.
Sammy, pictured here aged 16 with her son James during their first holiday, has revealed that she was named as one of ten victims - or ‘child prostitutes’ - in a report into the grooming gang
I described Philip and Richard, two older boyfriends I’d had aged 13, before my relationship with Ash. Both had known Ash – Richard had worked for him and his brother, Bash, selling drugs. ‘I think the grooming started earlier than you thought,’ Nikki said carefully. My heart nearly stopped.
‘I think the authorities have failed you,’ she added. ‘I think you were a victim of grooming over many years. It’s time this was handled professionally. You were a victim, but now you are a survivor.’
I wanted Ash to pay for what he’d done; I wanted him jailed so he couldn’t harm anybody else.
Heart pounding, I’d sat down with two officers from South Yorkshire Police, who came to see me at my sisters’ house, but their casual dismissal of my credibility was shocking. They were very laid-back.
One, who’d known me as a teenager, said I’d been Ash’s girlfriend and would never be a reliable witness because of my criminal involvement with Ash’s gang. Evidence from those years – including my dad’s 11-page statement and my teenage diary – had seemingly vanished without a trace. The only thing that remained, they claimed, was a missing person’s report detailing one of my many disappearances.
Even James couldn’t be used as evidence if DNA testing proved he was Ash’s son. They said it was ‘inappropriate’ to tell a boy his age that his father was a suspected paedophile.
I even asked whether police officers could be called on to provide statements about our relationship. But the other officer said: ‘I can’t force them to write something if they say, “I never saw that.” ’
He added: ‘Opinions have changed now. Now we identify that as child abuse. Before they’d see it as sort of a lovesick teenager who keeps going back to this fella.’
I realised there and then that I couldn’t rely on the police to help me. I contacted a solicitor and requested to see my police files before anything else disappeared.
Slowly, I began to piece together the extent of the authorities’ failures, and the network of people who had covered for Ash and his gang. It transpired, of course, that police and social services knew all about him. In 2000 – the year I fell pregnant twice by Ash – the Home Office had commissioned research into child sexual exploitation in various locations, including Rotherham. The report, written in 2001, contains a chapter about Ash as a ‘suspected pimp and drug dealer’ with convictions for wounding, stabbings, assault, affray, robbery, arson, burglary, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Chillingly, I learned I was named as one of ten victims – or ‘child prostitutes’ as we were still called then.
The authorities knew which hotels and takeaways he used, which schools he was sighted outside, and had a long list of taxi firms he was linked to that were also suspected of being involved in the exploitation of children.
The researcher had been astonished by the scale of abuse and wrote an interim report criticising Rotherham Council and the police for failing to act. When it was sent to the South Yorkshire Chief Constable, the researcher was given a roasting by senior members of Rotherham police. None of her work was ever published. In desperation, I contacted a journalist who was investigating child sexual exploitation. The police panicked, and on the day my story was published in the newspapers I gave my first formal interview to officers.
Sammy's former boyfriend Arshid ‘Ash’ Hussain (left), and his brothers Basharat (centre) and Bannaras (right), known as Bash and Bono, were all involved in the grooming gang
One asked me: ‘Do you feel guilty, Sam? Because a lot of good professionals are going to lose their jobs.’
I didn’t. The interview became the starting point for Operation Clover, the long-running police investigation into Ash and his associates and other historic child exploitation cases in South Yorkshire. There would be separate interviews about the behaviour of police officers and the criminal activity I’d been involved in while under Ash’s spell.
Lawyers advised me that I risked jail, or even being killed. Every time I heard a knock at the door I was petrified.
I knew what violence Ash was capable of. Two days after the first interview, James said he saw Ash outside in a black car. I called the police, and that’s when I really started to see how things had changed. I was listened to, taken seriously, and given an incident number. The days of being viewed as a stupid little girl who got what she deserved, or a ‘white slag’ who was willingly prostituting herself, had finally ended.
Still, it wasn’t always easy. Social workers from Rotherham Council said speaking out had put my own children at risk of harm, and they put James and Reece on a protection plan – a process which could eventually have seen them taken away from me. They had failed to protect me for years, yet now I was naming and shaming them in the media, they wanted to protect my children. It felt like I was being blackmailed to stop campaigning. I considered stopping, but realised it was the very last thing I should do.
False accusations crept into social services’ reports. One said I’d abandoned my children for two weeks to go to Ibiza; another said I’d allowed James to be part of a drug-dealing gang when he was six. I could prove both were untrue, but I was furious. I knew I was going to get a hard time for speaking out, but this was ridiculous.
It was just a few days later that Rotherham Council was shamed into ordering an independent inquiry into how the sexual exploitation of children had been handled, which caused massive political fallout and resignations when it was published in 2014. The inquiry concluded that thousands of girls may have been abused over 16 years.
But my biggest victory was putting Ash behind bars after giving evidence at his trial in December 2015. He was found guilty of 23 serious child sexual exploitation crimes, including multiple rapes and sexual assaults dating back to 1990. He was jailed for 35 years.
After the verdict, more victims came forward and eventually a further 20 abusers were convicted. It had turned into one of the biggest child-abuse trials this country had ever seen.
I was proud of what I’d achieved. The result gave closure at last. In the end, too, the Crown Prosecution Service rightfully decided not to prosecute me. An astonishing charge of ‘consensual rape’ on my criminal record sheet now no longer appears, although nobody can explain to me how and when it was added or taken off.
My aim now is to campaign to prevent future generations of children from having their lives devastated by sexual exploitation, and to get victims the support and justice they deserve. My abuser stole my childhood, destroyed my mental health and stripped me of the chance of happiness in my 20s.
I suffered from major depression, was left with disengagement and emotional detachment issues, and developed an eating disorder that I only recently defeated.
I lost precious years with my family and friends. I have major trust issues and have never been able to form new friendships. I also lost my education and gained a criminal record. I lost every last shred of my self-esteem, and I almost lost my children. I have been asked many times how I cope now I know the truth. The answer is simple: I have forgiven him. If I don’t move on and look to the future I will always be my abuser’s victim and I am not that vulnerable little child any more.
My life starts now.
And God bless you for your courage and determination. You are a genuine hero.
Abridged from Just A Child: Britain’s Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed, by Sammy Woodhouse, published by Blink Publishing on April 19, priced £7.99. Offer price £5.99 (25 per cent discount) until April 22. Order at mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.