It’s now, when I’m in my 40s, that I am looking back to what happened to me when I was 16 with a heavy heart……
I was only put into care because of a family breakdown and my single parent mum was struggling to cope with her own mental health and she abandoned me. Although I had a dad who my brother lived with, I felt I didn’t know him at all, he didn’t want me and so I went into care.
Once in foster care, my foster Dad began to groom and sexually abuse me.
The experience haunts me to this day, many years later, and a lot of this is due to the particular response (then and now) from the Social Services and the Police after I reported his abuse and inappropriate behaviour.
Durham Police ‘interviewed’ me at the time as though I was in control of this even though I was just a child, and they worked from the standpoint that I must have been ‘consenting’….. the words THEY used and tried to put in my mouth.
I was made to feel that I was an attention seeker, essentially an unreliable witness and as though it was a consensual relationship, even though I wasn’t old enough to consent and when ‘In Care‘ you are still classed as a child until 18 years old. In fact I have recently managed to get some of my files from when I was in care, and this is the ‘theme’ that runs throughout, together with the analysis that I was just ‘desperate for physical affection’ and judged as consenting to the abuse.
I was in total turmoil at that time and extremely vulnerable I know now because I was losing my relationship with my mum and it was easy for my abuser to take advantage. I became trapped in his presence: he knew I needed love and reassurance and at the same time I felt completely worthless.
I think only those that have experienced being groomed can truly comprehend what grip that person had.
I felt so insignificant but I was still sure that I would be backed up and treated better by the Authorities considering he was employed by them and I was a vulnerable child in his care.
In the only Care Files I have been given (after two requests) I read that my foster parents were allowed to go on to adopt their 5 year old foster child AFTER I reported the abuse. The files even say ‘Mr P didn’t find J.E attractive’ enabling him to self-assess and he was automatically believed and backed up.
Also, I read in my files about how apprehensive my foster mum was in fostering a teenager at all and even when she thought I was a ‘well-mannered and cheerful girl’ upon meeting me she still said to my Social Worker ‘there must be more to her than that because of what she has been through with her mum’.
Could I not have been a well-mannered, cheerful AND understandably distressed teenager (such as for other teenagers (that are not in care))?
I went back to the police again 5 years ago and Durham Constabulary just said there is nothing they can do as it’s so long ago and I’m alone.
I know my foster fathers own daughter was estranged from him but the police refused to talk to her to see if she had suffered sexual abuse at his hands unless she approached them first. There were also three sisters in foster care with my abuser before I was sent there and he would say ‘you can tell they’ve been sexually abused, especially at Bath times’, but again the police refuse to look into that either unless the sisters come forward themselves to report it.
I contacted Safeguarding but they were not interested, saying this is a police matter. I contacted a solicitor who advised me to speak to the police about the three sisters who had been in his care, but again police would not investigate this and I don’t know what else to do.
As a child in care I believe you are viewed with suspicion: labelled ‘trouble’ rather than ‘troubled’. My foster dad was trouble and he could do whatever he liked to me whilst I was severely traumatised and just needed support and care……and all without him ever having to face Justice right up until today.
Why didn’t the authorities take my complaint seriously? Why didn’t they protect me? Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they believe me? To this day these memories keep coming back, that time in my life. It haunts me. And it never receives any of the recognition it deserves, and it will stay with me forever…….