This book is appalling. Brilliantly appalling. It was tough, tough listening, but anyone who wants to understand the ways that young people are groomed, here’s the full on, terrible truth. Child prostitution. Human trafficking. Grooming gangs. THis was never going to make for easy reading.
I wanted to cry my heart out for Caitlin, who constantly admonishes herself for being so stupid. She wasn’t stupid. She was targeted and blackmailed.
I want to force feed the book to parents of young girls who need to worry more about what’s happening to them than what the neighbours think.
I want to wave the book in the faces of doctors, nurses, and teachers who need to fight for the resources to address the needs of children like Caitlin, and need not to turn their backs on signs of self harm.
I want to scream at health workers and social workers: for every underage teenage pregnancy there is a rape.
And I want to shout from the highest mountain that Caitlin continued to be abused past her 16th birthday. She was not making a ‘lifestyle choice’. She was groomed.
For me this book raised some familiar issues. This includes the promise of modelling jobs to lure girls in. Claire Gray’s account ‘What Lies Behind the Curtain’ tells how she was groomed by a modelling agency’s management. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich showed us how Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein abused in full site for years, luring girls in with, you’ve guessed it, modelling contracts.
There are familiar characters in taxi drivers who abuse. In police officers who saw her only as a slut, as a prostitute, not as an abused young woman. In the opportunities to save her that were missed.
There are familiar themes like the criminalisation of the victim. Like the fear of racism when addressing the issue of Pakistani men who abused her in their own homes, viewing her as fair game for her whiteness. The paralysis of rape victims. The self blame. The trauma. The lack of counselling after abortion. Children who slip through the cracks in schools when moving areas.
There are some tough, uncompromising truths in this book.
I had to take regular breaks from listening, it was so painful. I am torn between telling people to run,away from reading it, to not face up to the dreadful truth, and to stick their heads in the sand, or on the other hand making it required reading for every teacher, every social worker, every medic and every parent.
People have written that they found the abuse in the book monotonous, repetitive. If it was like that for a reader, imagine how it felt for Caitlin. To complain like that is to ignore the fact that this a true story, the story of a young woman who was groomed and abused, repeatedly raped and trafficked in Britain in the 21st Century.
We should be ashamed. Not Caitlin.
If you have been groomed and need help, please contact CAAGe and we’ll do what we can to support you.