“My childhood was a bit chaotic, but overall it was safe and happy. I lived with my mum and younger sister and we had lots of family and friends close by. One of those friends was Martina and her husband Sean, and I spent a lot of time in their house growing up, either babysitting their children or spending time with them. Their house was like a second home for me.
“Looking back, I think Sean’s grooming and sexual abuse started when I was 10 years old. It started really slowly so I didn’t really know what was happening and that it was wrong. The abuse happened every week; he’d find a way of getting me alone. Sometimes he would ask me to babysit and the abuse would happen then, other times there were people around and he couldn’t get me by myself and I was safe.
“I'd read stories in my mum’s magazines about sexual abuse and knew that what was happening to me was wrong but I was scared about telling people. I was scared about what it might do to my family and didn’t want the responsibility of upsetting Martina and their children.
"I spent increasing amounts of time by myself as I tried to understand what was happening to me"
“As I grew older, I started making excuses for not going round. I’d always been an introverted person, preferring reading and playing games quietly to going out and being loud, but the abuse made me quieter and more isolated. I spent increasing amounts of time by myself as I tried to understand what was happening to me and how I could stop it without hurting anyone.
“A few days before my 16th birthday Sean did something to me that made me realise I had to tell someone for my safety.
“I’d made excuses for a long time not to visit his house, but the last day I was there, I thought Martina would be there and I wouldn't be alone with him. I was wrong. I contacted my friend on social media and told him what had happened. He told me that I should get out of the house as soon as possible.
“My mum came and picked me up and I told her what had happened and what Sean had been doing to me. The abuse had lasted six years and it was such a relief to finally know I was safe.
"I was introduced to Amanda at the NSPCC. She told me that she was going to help me come to terms with what had happened."
“After I disclosed my abuse to my family, I was taken to the police station and gave a statement and waited for a long time for the case to go to court.
“In that time I was introduced to Amanda at the NSPCC. She told me that she was going to help me comes to terms with what had happened. The only thing I knew about the NSPCC were the TV adverts with sad children. I didn’t know if I’d be able to trust someone I’d never met and I didn’t really want to talk about the abuse.
“Once I got to know Amanda and knew I could trust her, I wanted to tell her what I’d been through. In our sessions I got to do lots of arts and crafts and play games. I felt like I could act childish and not feel judged, which was nice. I liked hanging out with Amanda.
“Working with Amanda made me feel better. When things got bad at home I felt I could let loose and speak about my real feelings without getting in trouble. We had a couple of sessions with my family members where I explained my feelings and my actions and we agreed on some rules about respect and treatment of others. They’re a lot more supportive and respectful towards me now.
"My life now is in a good place. I’m doing really well at college and I’ve got a good circle of friends and boyfriend."
“Being able to talk in confidence about things going on in my life is amazing; Amanda is a safe person for me to talk to about anything.
“My life now is in a good place. I’m doing really well at college and I’ve got a good circle of friends and boyfriend. I’m a lot happier.
“To anyone who has been sexually abused I’d say work with the NSPCC and accept their support. Working with them has been brilliant and I feel a lot more positive about my life and future than I did.”