Charlotte's story How Protect and Respect helped Charlotte after being groomed online

Charlotte's story"I found it hard to mix with people, and was bullied at school for being 'different'."

Before 16-year-old Charlotte joined our Protect and Respect service, she was going through a difficult time. She felt lonely and low, and it was only when she was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome that she understood why she found it hard to make friends.

Charlotte began to make friends online and on Blackberry Messenger (BBM) "It was so much easier than talking to people face-to-face. I used to add people that I didn't even know." And this is where she fell into trouble.

Charlotte built up a friendship with a girl through BBM. But after a while the conversation turned and she kept asking Charlotte to send her a naked picture. "I wasn't very confident and didn't think to question why, so I sent her one."

When Charlotte refused to send any more photos, the girl retaliated by posting the picture on Facebook. Charlotte felt mortified, and started receiving cruel messages from people who had seen it. "A lot of them called me a slag – and because I heard it so much – I believed them."

Eventually, Charlotte's mum found out and reported it to the police. The Facebook post was tracked back to a man who had been grooming other young people. "I hadn't even questioned that the person I was talking to might not be who they said they were."

"The NSPCC helped me to realise it wasn't all my fault"

When Charlotte's mum went to the police, they contacted social care and Charlotte was referred to the NSPCC's Protect and Respect service. Charlotte remembers her feelings at the time, "I was nervous and didn't know what to expect from the NSPCC, but I found them really helpful. I used to think that what happened to me was all my fault but they helped me to realise it wasn't."

It was also a chance to meet people who had gone through the same thing. "It made me realise that I wasn't on my own and helped me to open up. In one group exercise we all had to write nice things about other group members. It gave me such a boost and I still have it on my wall."

What's Charlotte's advice for any young people who have been referred to Protect and Respect? "I would tell them to just give it a go – it really does help."


Names have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

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