Our work on child sexual exploitation 

When Marnie was sixteen she was struggling to make friends and was falling behind with her school work. Her confidence was low and she felt lonely, so she talked to older men online which made her feel ‘accepted’. This is her story. 

I found it easier to talk to people online 

Before I got referred to The Children’s Society there was a lot of things going on.

I found it hard to make friends, I felt like I wasn’t accepted. I didn’t feel confident and didn’t feel myself. I just felt really lonely, like I was torn in different pieces and I couldn’t find myself.

I found it more easy talking through the internet. I used to have five dating apps that were for over 21 year olds. It made me feel accepted, not so lonely. But I didn’t take into consideration the grooming process, I didn’t know anything about that.

I thought when people text, it was just normal chatting.

At school I was so behind with my work, I gave up. I didn’t care about it. I would just sleep all the time, it felt like my life was fading away. I didn’t really care.

I spoke to one of the teachers, I don’t actually know why, it all just came out.

I realise now I was putting myself in danger

She referred me to The Children’s Society. My worker educated me on the grooming process and sexual exploitation.

We’d look at case studies or videos that show the real effect, like you don’t really see the effect what grooming has on people but by seeing it in front of you, you get to realise how it works.

My worker was there to support me, to be a friend, but most of all she built my confidence.

I joined a group session that’s broadened my social circle. We’ve been doing art and stuff like that about sexual exploitation, and also talking about what would be best for young people.

I was shy before, I wouldn’t talk as much, but now I’m more open and more talkative. I have more confidence, more self-esteem. I feel a lot better.

I realise now what I was doing, I was putting myself in danger and it wasn’t normal.

It was really risky and it could have put me in really dangerous situations.

Moving on 

I don’t use the internet as much anymore – except for work. I don’t use social media.

I’m on my work now, I got more motivated. I care more, so I’m stronger and I won’t give up. My dream now is to help people and travel.

Before I started with The Children’s Society I was sad and had low confidence. By coming here, it’s built more confidence and made my social circle bigger. They’re really welcoming, it’s like a family.