I was taken into 'care' when I was younger. Needless to say, children's homes back then weren't much different than they sound now (think the Oxford case).
I regularly disappeared - I'd not bother telling anyone where I was going, I was hanging around with a much older group, basically trying to be an adult at age 13. Age 13 having been sexually abused for years - hence the reason I ended up in care.
I was drinking, smoking weed, the dance music scene was just getting going (late 80's) and so I was off at illegal raves, not even thinking of telling anyone where I was going.
No-one gave a shit, so what was the point?
I thought I was 'empowered'. I thought I was making 'choices'. What was actually happening, was a series of men were preparing me for sexual activity. The newspapers call it 'grooming' but I hate that term so I won't use it. I'm not a horse, or a dog, having my fur tended to.
I was 14-15, with a 21 year old 'boyfriend'. My incredibly embarrassed social worker took me to the doctor to ensure I was prescribed the pill.
No discussion about STI's, just a concern that I might get pregnant.
No discussion about how a teenage girl who'd been sexually abused could disappear for days on end without anyone being that bothered.
No discussion about why a 21 year old man might want to have a teenage girlfriend.
No discussion about trauma and its implications.
No discussion about the possibility of sexual exploitation.
No discussion about the fact that they knew a 14-15 year old girl was having sex with a 21 year old man.
No discussion full stop.
When I turned 15, my social worker told me that I was to be fostered. Apparently, I was to be 'delighted' about this 'new family' and how they'd help me to 'stop being dysfunctional'.
The foster family were very traditional, and very religious. They were going to 'cure' me.
The 21 year old boyfriend disappeared. He was replaced with a 24 year old. Then a 19 year old. Then a 30 year old.
Within 6 months, my foster mother told me that my 'promiscuity' was a 'problem for the family'. She told me that I was 'getting a reputation'.
She said: 'your behaviour with these men is disgusting. You are disgusting. You open your legs and invite them in like a common trollop. How dare you behave in such a way?'
No discussion about why those men might have wanted a sexual relationship with a traumatised teenager, struggling with the effects of sexual abuse as a child.
No discussion at all.
The placement broke down & ended up in a series of temporary placements until I was old enough to live on my own. I now work with young people who've experienced sexual violence, and I ensure that my work is centred around discussions.
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