Hanna* knows about child exploitation firsthand. Here, she shares her story.
Before I came to Kooth, I was in my own little bubble. I felt very alone and isolated. I also felt really confused about what was happening and had such mixed feelings. Sometimes I’d feel like what was happening back then was okay and that’s just how you got treated by people.
But then on the other hand, I felt really scared, confused and didn’t think it was right. The love and affection I received from these people topped all that I was feeling deep down. What they provided was the love, attention and care I never had. I needed that.
One day I decided to Google what help I could receive, and I came across Kooth. I wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me but in a caring and safe environment.
I wanted to make sense of all the things that had happened and were happening and tell someone who I thought would help keep me safe and help me understand.
When I had my first chat, I was still very much confused about everything. I thought to myself, there’s no way this type of issue would ever happen to me. I later realised it can happen to anyone, but especially young people like me, who are vulnerable.
After a while using Kooth, I finally plucked up the courage to contact the police. Even though I reported it, I was scared my counsellor would just drop me because I was ‘safe’, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Kooth still gave me the same support I received all the way through, probably even more so.
I’m still not fully recovered. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard. But I’m receiving a lot of support to finally put me on the road to recovery. When I first came to Kooth I wouldn’t reach out to anyone but now I’m slowly reaching out to the people I need to. I’m not fully there yet but it’s definitely improved.
I’ve been able to give people the chance to help me instead of shutting it down straight away. And I’ve also been able to reach out to people first if I am struggling.
For anyone experiencing anything like this, my advice would definitely be to listen to your instincts, to reach out to people who can help as it’s your right. I’d encourage you to take that first step. Just remember that you are not alone and none of this is your fault.
I wish I could have read this when I was going through everything. If you asked me at the start of my Kooth journey, I couldn’t see a future at all. And now although it’s still tough, I feel like maybe there is a chance for me to have a good and happy future.
*Hanna is a made up name to protect this young person’s identity.