Anna's Story - Year 6

(Permission granted to share, with false name and photo to protect identity)
I was 9 when I first got involved with them, they use to hang out around the flats where I lived. Dave was the leader and although he never said much to me, he made sure that the others were polite.  The girls always seemed so grown up, they seemed really friendly. I started to spend time with them after school, not long, but just a bit, Abi would always spend time talking to me.  She had loads of confidence and would take the pXXX out of the boys, she would tell me stuff about them that made me laugh and made me trust her.  She wasn’t scared of anything.  She’d talk to me about stuff going on in her life and the problems she had with her boyfriends. “Use them and abuse them” was what she always said.

She told me that she used sex to get what she wanted and to get respect from the crew.  She told me that she would help me get respect too.  She taught me how to smoke to make me look older and said that if I had any problems at school she would sort them out, including the teachers.

I knew that the others all smoked weed, but they had never offered me any, but that day, Abi did.  It was weird, I felt so grown up like I was really part of the crew but I was scared about what my parents would say.

In the summer holidays I spent all my time with them.  I’d go out about 1 and not come in until 7, my mum and dad weren’t happy but it didn’t matter.  Smoking helped.  Abi would go off for a while with different lads and when she came back she was always happy to see me.  She told me that as I was smoking so much I should give something back.  I didn’t get much pocket money and I told her that, she told me not to worry, but that she’d teach me how to use boys to get what I want.  She said that if I really wanted to be part of the crew then I needed to put into practice what I learnt.  I didn’t really know what she meant, but she introduced me to Steve and he seemed really nice.  He asked me about school and whether I was happy about going into Year 6.  Abi said that Steve was a practice so it didn’t matter if I got it wrong.  Afterwards he told me that I would make a great girl and that the crew would be lucky to have me.

I felt horrible afterwards and when I told Abi, she told me not to worry about it, that it was just the beginning and everyone feels like that, I wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t. She told me not to say anything to my parents as they wouldn’t understand, but to talk to her instead. It happened so quickly from then.  Dave started to talk to me and told me that I was doing great, he said that he would have the honour of being my first, and that to make it special he would give me a special joint.  I was out of it, I felt like I could fly.  Dave said that I was part of the crew and from now on I would be given responsibility and respect.

Dave would get his friends to meet me and every time he would give me the special joint.  My parents were getting really angry with me at the time and the school had complained to them about my behaviour in class.  Mum was worried about my SATs and Dad would go from not speaking to me to crying in front of me asking me what was wrong.  They argued all the time.  I heard Dad saying that he wanted to phone social services and mum was dead against it.  I got scared and told Abi what they were arguing about.  Abi told me not to worry, that she would look after me and I could stay at her friends for a while.  I didn’t know what to do and Abi just took charge so I went along with her.  The house was nice and I had my own room.  That’s when it really started.  There was always someone there and Dave brought round men this time and I had to sleep with them.  I wanted to go home but I couldn’t leave, I had to sleep with 6/7/8 men a day and Abi stopped coming round.  I started my period and I was really scared that I was dying.  I begged someone to take me to the hospital because I didn’t know why my tummy was in so much pain and the bleeding didn’t stop.  Eventually Abi came round and said that she would take me.  I don’t really know what happened then, the police came and told Abi to leave me, I then saw my mum and dad at the hospital.  I cried when I saw them and all I wanted to do was go home.