A survivor of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, is demanding the government does more to help victims.
Sammy Woodhouse spoke out about the abuse, including to Socialist Worker, using the pseudonym Jessica.
She was abused from the age of 14 by Arshid Hussain, who was found guilty of several offences last year.
But Sammy said police refused to act on the abuse—and even took action to stop Hussain being punished.
She said, “One time I went missing. I was with my abuser and an officer came in a marked car. He told him, ‘I’ve come to give you a heads up that there could be a warrant out for your arrest’.”
Sammy has now waived her anonymity. “I just felt that I’m constantly living in his shadow and I’d had enough of it,” she told Socialist Worker.
Since revealing her identity, more people have told Sammy they have come forward to report abuse.
Now she is campaigning for “Sammy’s Law” to stop the criminalisation of victims who are forced to commit crimes by their abusers.
She says the law would make “a huge difference”.
At the age of 14, police caught Sammy in bed with her abuser. She had a truncheon in her bag which Hussain had asked her to keep.
“I was arrested and he wasn’t,” she said. “If I went to a job interview I’d have to sit there and go into my abuse to explain that.
“I’m not saying that everybody’s records should be wiped clean. What I’m saying is let’s look at circumstances.
“I shouldn’t, as a victim of a crime, be blamed for that crime.”
Sammy has written to the government and wants the issue taken up nationally.
“We need to recognise as a country that there are adults grooming children to commit crimes,” she said.
“We need to put something in place that shows victims they can come forward and report their abuse without being prosecuted. We need to stop victim blaming.”
Sammy said survivors speaking out has helped win changes in Rotherham and made “a huge difference”.
But she stressed that investigations into allegations against the police
relating to the scandal will take time to complete.
“When we start seeing professionals held accountable, we’ll be able to move forward,” she said.
Survivors’ fight for justice has helped to secure convictions of abusers in Rotherham. But for too many people the fear that the authorities will treat them as the problem still stops them from coming forward.
“I’ve proved in court that he was to blame,” said Sammy. “And yet at 31 years old I’m still being blamed for something that wasn’t my fault.
“We should be able to have a future just like anybody else does.”