Rotherham abuse victims tell their stories

Media caption,
Jessica says police failed to take her sexual abuse allegations seriously

A damning report into the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal has branded the town's council "not fit for purpose" and prompted proposals to hand control to a team of commissioners.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles, said: "The voice of victims has to be clearly heard."

Some of the 1,400 children abused in the town between 1997 and 2013 have previously spoken to the BBC about what happened to them.

The catalogue of abuse they suffered included beatings, rape and trafficking to various towns and cities in England. It was first revealed in a report released in August 2014.

Sarah - 'Nobody listened'

Image source, Thinkstock

One woman, who has been called Sarah to protect her identity, was 11 when she was first groomed and abused in Rotherham.

She has claimed a police officer found her naked in a bed and left without doing anything.

Sarah, who was living in a care home at the time, said: "I was just taken to a house with two Asian males and shown what to do by another girl.

"While I was there I'm assuming I was reported missing because police arrived.

"Me and the other girl were pushed to the side of the bed, naked, no clothes on, and a police officer came to the side of the bed.

"I recall locking eyes with that police officer and he said 'there is nobody here', and he left. We got dropped off back at the kids' home the next day."

Sarah said the abuse went on for five or six years and involved 40 or 50 men.

She said police accused her of lying when she spoke out about the abuse.

"They didn't believe me," she said. "They told me I was trouble - I went out with these men, I shouldn't go near these men.

"Nobody listened, I had police officers take me back to these men.

"There was an occasion when I was picked up with another girl by an Asian police officer. He picked us up and dropped us back at the care home. We were sent to our bedrooms and the police officer spoke to the staff. That's how it went."

Sarah said her abusers had beaten her if she did not do what she was told.

"I've had black eyes, busted lips," she said. "I've been held by my throat so tight I've passed out, and then slapped back round."

Jessica - 'Used to fighting'

Jessica, not her real name, said she was groomed from the age of 14 and suffered years of violent abuse.

Jessica claimed she met the man when he picked her up in his car in 1999 after he spotted her with friends outside shops in the town.

"He got out, started talking to me and a friend and asked who I was," she said.

"He asked me to get in the car with him and that was it. After that I saw him every day for two years.

"I felt, 'I like him, I want to be with him', but my parents were saying it was wrong, he was too old.

"But I didn't care. I was absolutely fascinated with him.

"I remember one time we were fighting on a hill and he headbutted me.

"I wasn't scared at all in the moment, because I was so used to the fighting and the arguments. It just became so normal."

Jessica's father Paul, also not his real name, said he went to the police four times about what was happening.

"I couldn't prove she was sleeping with them," he said. "Their attitude was, 'if she's knocking about with them they must be little slappers, let them get on with it. What do you want us to do'.

"In the end, one of the guys at the police station in Rotherham told me if I didn't clear off I'd be arrested. I wasn't getting anywhere with them."

Emma - 'Threats to mum'

Image source, Science Library

"Emma" [not her real name], now aged 24, told the Today programme on Radio 4 she was 12 when she was first approached by a group of young men in an arcade in Rotherham.

"They started introducing alcohol and soft drugs to me and then, when I was 13, I was sexually exploited by them," she said.

"Up until this point they had never tried to touch me, they had not made me ever feel uncomfortable or ever feel unsafe or that they could harm me.

"I trusted them, they were my friends as I saw it, until one night my main perpetrator raped me, quite brutally as well, in front of a number of people.

"From then on I would get raped once a week, every week."

At the same time, she said, her family was being threatened and intimidated.

Media caption,
Rotherham child abuse victim Emma: "I would get raped once a week, every week"

"The men were parking outside my house.

"They were threatening my family, they were ringing my house phone - and they were quite dangerous men as well.

"I had no choice really, because they used to threaten to get my mum and rape my mum.

"So in my mind, as a 13 or 14 year old, it was 'well if I didn't go out and see them they are going to get my mum and are going to rape her'."

Anonymous - 'Viciously groomed'

Image source, Getty Images

Another victim said she suffered dozens of attacks at the hands of a gang over five years after being groomed from the age of 11.

She said: "They felt they were fearless and untouchable. They laughed and said they would never be punished.

"The police said I was asking for it and that I didn't do myself any favours by hanging around with these men.

"I was being viciously groomed and locked in strange homes with dirty, filthy men.

"I had no voice to speak. No-one listened."

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