The horrifying seven-year ordeal of sex trafficking victim Jennifer today marks a new low in the Telford abuse scandal .
Jennifer – not her real name – tells the Sunday Mirror for the first time how she was raped by over 500 men from the age off 11 – yet she is the one left with a criminal record.
She was gang raped, often in her school uniform, trafficked and held at gunpoint. Her nightmare left her so broken she attempted suicide.
At just 16, she feared for her life as one rapist battered her and shoved gravel in her mouth to silence her cries.
For four years, until she was 19, she fell under the control of a man who hawked her around like a piece of meat.
Jennifer claims police refused to intervene and repeatedly arrested her for prostitution from the age of 16 to 19, despite her plea she was being exploited.
Yet not one of her abusers has been brought to justice despite multiple reports to police. Jennifer says: “I must have been raped by more than 500 men.
"When I told the police, they told me I’d chosen my lifestyle. I asked to make a statement because I’d been raped and beaten by so many men and I wanted it to stop.
"An officer said, ‘You’re a common prostitute. Don’t you think that comes with the job?’ He said a jury would never believe I was a victim of abuse.
“Instead, I ended up in the dock. I starved so I had money for the court fines because I was terrified of going to jail. I was basically paying to be raped.”
(Image: Sunday Mirror)
Jennifer paints a picture of an unbearable childhood. She missed school from 14 to 16 as she was being violated and beaten by up to 10 men a night.
She says: “I thought the only way out was death because I’d gone to the police and they didn’t want to help me. My life was a living hell, I felt so alone. When I took an overdose, the ambulance driver refused to go home because I was on my own. She sat at my bedside, crying.”
A Sunday Mirror probe last year revealed up to 1,000 Telford girls could have been sexually exploited over four decades. Jennifer is set to give evidence to the ongoing public inquiry called as a result of our probe.
Her hell began when she moved to the Shropshire town in the late 1980s.
Finally, in the mid-90s, she fled to a relative’s home hundreds of miles away. Jennifer tells the Sunday Mirror: “I know it wasn’t my fault, but I feel guilty about girls who were abused. I wonder if they’d have been saved if I’d been taken seriously when I told police.
“I moved to Telford aged 11 and was desperate to fit in with other girls, who had boyfriends. I met a lad my age, but he introduced me to his older cousin and everything spiralled from there. His friends started gang raping me.”
Jennifer, now a mum in her 40s, skipped school for two years. A social worker visited her but she says barely any questions were asked about what was going on in her life.
She tried to return to class but claims a teacher told her she was wasting her time because she’d missed so many lessons. Jennifer adds bleakly: “I walked straight out of the gates and never went back. From that point, no one asked a single question.”
The teenager was then targeted by an older man who would control her for the next four years. She says: “He pretended to be my boyfriend, but it was a typical grooming scenario. Soon, he’d put me on the streets.”
Jennifer says the man was known to police for sex trafficking and her mum told officers she was in his clutches.
But she says the abuser was still able to drive her around the country, forcing her into sex with other men.
Jennifer goes on: “I was driven to a town in the Midlands and made to watch as an older girl was sold for sex. I was in my school skirt and cardigan. The first time I was arrested was shortly afterwards, in the same town. I told police I was from Telford and no one questioned why I was miles from home in the middle of the night.”
Many Telford victims say most of their abusers were from the Pakistani community but Jennifer says she was sold to anyone willing to pay.
She was so terrified of one man she jumped out of a moving car as he attacked. Then another abuser left her in utter terror. Jennifer says: “One man dragged me into an industrial estate to rape and beat me. I screamed, pray-ing someone could hear me. I thought he was going to kill me. There was a light on in a cellar and I was convinced that was where he’d dump my body.
“He picked up a handful of gravel and stuffed my mouth with it and held my nose so I would be quiet. I said, ‘Are you going to kill me? My mum will report me as a missing person’. Somehow, it made him stop.”
Jennifer says if she refused to obey orders she would be battered by the man who was controlling her. He beat her so badly that she choked on her own blood – then he told her she would have to pay for a new carpet.
She adds: “He also locked me in a flat with iron bars, for three or four days. I was told the police thought I’d been abducted but they did nothing.”
Jennifer says she went to police soon after she turned 17. But she claims: “I was told to have a good think about how I’d look in court. I knew then no one would believe me.”
There was little support for Jennifer at home. She says: “My mum didn’t understand what was going on and she believed it was my fault. After going to the police once, she kept quiet, which was the wrong thing to do because my abusers thrived on her silence. She was embarrassed and ashamed. Our relationship has never recovered.”
Records seen by the Sunday Mirror show Jennifer was convicted 52 times and fined heavily by the time she was 19 after being sold for sex.
Her trafficker was held in custody for four months on suspicion of a gang rape. But the case collapsed and he turned up at her door with a shotgun.
She says: “I told him I was pregnant by another man and he didn’t attack me that day. But he was furious I wouldn’t have an abortion and that’s when I overdosed.”
Jennifer pulled through but decided to have a termination. She finally broke free by fleeing Telford for ever.
She slowly rebuilt her life, had children and graduated from university.
When she read about mass abuse of Telford girls in the Sunday Mirror, she asked police to look at her case again, but was told her they wouldn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.
But she has been identified by a national scheme aimed at rooting out human trafficking and hopes this will lead to offenders being punished. West Mercia Police said Jennifer’s case collapsed as officers were unable to identify offenders – but promised a thorough investigation “if more information were to come to light”. The first complaint Jennifer made aged 17 was to an officer from West Midlands Police. The force said it did not have a record of the complaint but insisted all allegations of historic sex abuse would be taken seriously.