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All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

One of Morgan’s early memories is being told that she had ‘ruined Valentine’s Day’ as that was the day her mother discovered she was pregnant with her. She remembers being very sad in her childhood and wanting ‘to be loved by someone’.

She began looking at online teenage dating sites when she was about 11 years old, and was preyed on by abusers who she is now sure were older than they claimed.

Morgan’s father didn’t have a job so her mother worked long hours. She says she ‘never felt loved or wanted’. She easily gained access to the teenage websites by lying about her age and was soon drawn into sending explicit pictures and videos to other users.  

She remembers her father once telling her he had been looking at her internet use but the only advice he gave her was how to delete her browsing history. Soon after she started secondary school her mother discovered the photos and videos that she had been sharing on her phone.

Her parents did not talk to Morgan about what she was doing, but they did call the police, who took her phone and laptop. She did not hear from the police again, nor was she offered any support or warned about what she had been doing.

She says it felt to her that her parents, who didn’t love her, had just stopped her talking to the people who did love her.

Morgan began to self-harm, but at school she was accused of attention-seeking. She became friends with another girl who self-harmed and they shared ideas on how to hurt themselves with razors.

When Morgan was in her mid-teens she became involved in online role-playing. She says she enjoyed it and found most of the people to be ‘quite nice’, but she was subjected to abusive behaviour from some participants.

She explains that she has continued to suffer abuse in her relationships. She says she was never taught or learned how to say ‘no’ – she remembers being fondled on a bus when she was about 16 and not really caring.

Morgan says she did find a couple of teachers she could talk to at school. She remembers she was scared she was going to get seriously hurt and how nice it was to ‘find someone who cared’. However she feels her school should have done more.

She achieved ‘fairly good grades’ in her exams, completed a diploma at college and became involved in the theatre. An older boy who was giving her a lot of attention began to send her sexually explicit photos so she cut off contact with him.

Morgan now lives in shared accommodation but she feels scared of mixing with the other housemates. She doesn’t like anyone taller than her because she is worried they will overpower her. Although she’s never done anything wrong, she is terrified of the police.

She has some younger cousins growing up around her and feels strongly that she wants them to grow up in a safer environment than she did. She is concerned that even now sex education in school is starting at too late an age.

Morgan feels someone should have noticed the trouble she was going through growing up. No one checked that her parents were taking proper care of her and her school ignored signs of abuse and wrote off her as ‘a lost case’.

Despite the lack of love and care in her life, Morgan is proud of the person she has become.


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