This book by Sarah Wilson tells of the horrors of how she and 1400 other young girls were subjected to school bullies, and how they fell victim to alcohol, drugs and sex from a young age.
Sarah comes from a broken home. Living with her father was like being in a war zone, and her mother was on eggshells all the time. From the moment she walked through the doors of her primary school for the first time, she knew she wouldn’t fit in. Her home life had made her feel vulnerable and lost, and the bullies picked up on that, which made her an easy target. Almost everyone taunted her in their own way. They made her feel bad and ugly. She stuck out like a sore thumb. She never felt llike she fitted in there, and so she didn’t listen much in class. Getting through each day was an effort. She never confided in her mother about what was going on at school because she didn’t want any more hassle. She felt vey lonely. The teachers pretended not to notice that she was being bullied and it seemed terribly unfair.
Sarah was naive, unhappy and vulnerable. She fell under the spell of Nadine, a 15-year-old, with no idea what horrors lay in store. Nadine was intimidating and not someone to say no to. Sarah tried ‘weed’ for the first time when she was 9 years old to escape from being so lonely at shool and home. By the time she was 11, she was befriended outside her primary school by a group of older men, mostly of Pakistani descent. She was so desperate to fit in, she would have done anything to feel accepted. Soon, she was caught up in this new, exciting friendship. She just wanted to belong, and the gifts and attention they lavished on her were what she craved.
She went to house parties – having fun, hanging out, drinking and smoking. Soon she was trying cocaine, and felt on top of the world. She became hooked from the first moment. Then she went on to take ecstacy and amphetamines. She was completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that a gang of predatory paedophiles was slowly tightening its grip on her life, getting her hooked on booze and drugs. Her brain was addled by all the drugs and alcohol and everything these men were telling her. It was like she was turning into a little robot, slowly but surely losing all sense of control over her life. She didn’t know it at that time, but she was being completely and utterly groomed. If these men gave her a bottle of vodka or a line of cocaine, they could do anything they wanted. It wasn’t long before they were taking her all over the country and pimping her out, the price she had to pay to get the drinks and drugs that she needed.
Just after turning 15, Sarah’s cocaine addiction really got out of hand. All she had to show for the last five years of her life was a cocaine addiction and a shattered sense of self-worth. (By now she had been expelled from school.) She was introduced to a Muslim, converted to Islam, changed her name to Shazia Mohammed and married him by signing the nikah, the Islamic marriage contract.
Luckily, she met another Muslim man called Hamid who rescued her. Sarah finally broke out of the clutches of her abusers when she was 16 but Hamid soon died of cancer. Eventually, Sarah found a strength deep inside she never knew she had. she also had the most amazing sense of purpose: two beautiful children who needed her and depended on her. Her abusers might have taken her past, but they weren’t taking her future. One long awful chapter of her life had finally ended, and a new one, filled with hope, love and dreams, was beginning.
After months of soul-searching, Sarah decided to tell the world what happened, because girls like her had been silenced for far too long. Apparently, 1400 girls have been abused in Rotherham since 1997 (to 2013). Children were being raped, trafficked, beaten and sometimes doused in petrol. They were abducted and intimidated.