Instead of enjoying school and seeing friends, Lauren spent two years as a teenager trapped in dirty houses with child abusers. She believed this was all life could be for her. With our support, she managed to break free. She is safely back with her family, going to college and focused on becoming a support worker to help others. This is her story.
Lauren story headlines
2 years ago
Lauren was top of the Child Protection Register. Police feared she would be found dead in months.
Lauren was reported missing, often being found in the house of known child abusers.
Lauren story beginning
Looking for a connection
Lauren didn’t feel safe at home. She didn’t want to be there. When a group of older men started chatting to her online, she finally felt people cared about her. They listened, made her feel special. If she needed a bed to sleep, they gave her a place to stay. If she was hungry, they bought her food.
Then, things started to change. Lauren’s new ‘friends’ started taking her further away from home - to strange houses, with men she didn’t know, often for days on end. They plied her with drugs, made her stay awake, forced her to have sex. She was scared, confused - just a child on her own with no way to get home. She blamed herself for not being able to stop them.
Lauren story beginning
I was waking up depressed every morning and crying before school. I didn't feel like the person I was.
Lauren didn’t know where to turn. She was afraid her mum wouldn’t understand and was terrified of what the men would do if they found out. Traumatised and dosed up on a cocktail of drugs from her abusers, Lauren stopped going to school.
When the police found Lauren in the house of a known child abuser, after being missing for five days, they realised she needed urgent specialist support. That's when Lauren met Emily, one of our child sexual exploitation workers.
Lauren and Emily
Finding a connection
Emily and Lauren met every week. Lauren was suffering from severe PTSD and still in extreme danger of going back to her abusers. Lauren says 'If I hadn't gone and taken that help, I would probably be dead or kidnapped.' Together they began to build up Lauren’s self esteem and she became able to recognise the signs of abuse and manipulation.
With Emily’s help, Lauren also created a safety plan so she knew what to do in situations where she felt anxious or in danger. She gave her a number to call any time of day or night, no blame, no judgement. As her confidence and happiness began to return, Lauren started to feel like her self again.
Knowing I had someone there to help me. It made me feel safe. Knowing I had someone there to help me. It made me feel safe.
Today, Lauren is in college and has rebuilt her relationship with her family. She stopped replying to her abusers’ messages and blocks people she doesn’t know on social media. She knows how to stay safe online but at the same time, can 'talk to people more and express how I feel.'
Lauren is now focused on becoming a carer or support worker so she can turn her experience into something that can help other children. She says, 'I could be there, the one to help them through it all, so they're not alone, so they feel safe and know they can talk to someone about it'.
Lauren story end
Now I wake up every day feeling in a better place.
This is a true story but names and identifying details have been changed to protect the young person and the photographs are posed by a model.