Before we get started: TRIGGER WARNING
I’m gonna kick off the new year with a blog I have thought about writing a few times and then just couldn’t find the words. I will give it my best shot. When we talk about exploitation, especially child sexual exploitation, our minds are drawn automatically to images of young girls and older men. Maybe you don’t automatically think that, and if you don’t…. apologies…but when I talk to people that is what they say… “Them poor young girls” … “Nasty older blokes sniffing around young girls”. So, I want to tell you about another area of exploitation….
So, to get this blog right I need you to do some visualising. Let me tell you about Nadine. I want you to read my description and then close your eyes and visualise her.
Nadine… When I met her, she was about 15. Sometimes she looked a little younger but usually she looked older. She was mixed race. She had this mad curly afro hair that she would either wear loose around her face or she would have it up with little curls gelled to the side of her face. She mostly wore it down and in length it was almost at her elbows. Chocolate brown and curly, always shiny, and full. It was the kind of hair that made people double take because it was stunning. Her skin was always clear. She wore lots of eye make up and did not need to. Her eyes were green and the shape of a cats. She would use black eye liner on them to stand out more, with lots of mascara. Sometimes, if she looked at you, it would make you catch your breath because she truly was beautiful. Like a doll. Her figure was…heart stopping. She wold wear jeans and a crop top and would just kill it when she walked in a room. When she dressed up it would be pointless for anyone else to even bother because all eyes were on her. She was breath-taking. And I adored her.
Close your eyes and see her. Imagine her voice with its streets twang and her giggle that made boys hearts beat faster.
Now, if you had read any of my blogs you will see that so far Nadine has featured twice. She is first mentioned in “How was you groomed?” as the girl who takes me to get my hair sorted right at the start and the she is mentioned again in “Make her look younger: part 2” as she tries to stop the older send me country. If I ever blog “Make her look younger part 3” her role is even more apparent.
Nadine was the girl that many of the other girls wanted to be like. She had a “relationship” with one of the elders and always seemed to have new clothes and new stuff. She would go off to raves in a car with loads of older men and come back early hours of the morning with loads of money, drink, and drugs. She would go and “Visit” people for the weekend and when she came back, she would have more money and drugs.
It used to confuse me…Our older would often come to where we were and tell Nadine she would go here and do this and that. Sometimes she would argue and cry, sometimes she would not. She always went. The bit that confused me as a child was…even though he told her to go…. When she came back, he was always angry with her. No matter how much stuff or money she brought back with her (And she gave it too him) you knew that within the hour she would be taken into a room with him and there would be lots of shouting and cussing. “Slag” “bitch” “Whore” would be boomed around the flats we were in. Then you would hear the hitting. Hard slaps and screams. Then a lot of crying. Then silence. And then noisy and violent sounding sex. Usually with Nadine begging him to stop. Sometimes…when what ever she had done wrong was well bad…the older would take others in the room with him.
Now, if your reading this I would imagine that you have realised that Nadine was being sexually exploited at its worst and in many ways. As a 13-year-old child I had no clue what was going on or why. All I knew was that I didn’t want that to happen to me. Ever.
When Nadine first took an interest in me, when she got my hair done and cleaned me up, I have no doubt now as an adult that she had one intention for me…. Child sexual exploitation. But it didn’t go down like that …not for a long time.
So …. go read this blog and then come back to continue the story…. “How was you groomed?”
After the hair thing she started taking me (and others) around different places over the next week or so. She took us to places where there was sexualised stuff taking place. A crack house few times. A few brothels. These all looked like houses and I didn’t really know what was going on, but that is what they were.
I never got involved in any of it. The stuff that was going in in the places we went too. I just kept quite and out of the way. I was usually with the boys when not with Nadine, so this side of gangs, the sexual element, I was mostly kept away from. One night out with Nadine, she took me and few other girls to what looked like a house party. We had all gone around hers before and there was lots of drinking and drugs being passed round. I didn’t drink much that night. I was 13 and would struggle to drink and then go out the next day. So, I didn’t drink much this one night. Whilst all the girls were drinking and smoking and snorting, there was music blaring and Nadine was getting the girls up and dancing, sexualised dancing. Everyone was giggling and whining up the place.
I had only ever seen Nadine being sweet and kind to people. I had seen her row with the boys, but always nice to “Her girls”. I had seen her give a few girls that were not in our group proper beatings. Even though she was nice, I knew you should not fuck with Nadine.
Just before we left, she was telling the girls to put make up on, change their clothes. Most of the girls had on jeans and tight t-shirts. Nadine pulled out hot pants and little dresses, telling the girls they could borrow whatever. The girls were well drunk by this time and at first there was lots of “No’s” and “I am not wearing that”. But eventually, all but me of the girls were walking around Nadine’s mums flat dressed in tiny clothes and lots of makeup. I was sitting on this single armchair watching. I had been drinking MD 20/20 whilst this was going on but had started to feel uneasy and had put it to the side a while ago. The uneasiness was not from the drink. You know what else I noticed. Nadine was not drinking or sniffing. She was smoking a few buns on a zoot here and there…. but that was it. As I watched …there was one thought going through my head…. Nadine is paying for all this. Giving everyone free drugs and drink. Why?
It was time to go. Everyone got their coats on that now looked dumb with their short and tight clothing. Nadine was fully aware that I had stopped joining in a while ago. I just sat. She came over and bent down so we were face to face “Lets go Blond” she said. I shook my head. It was like we both knew what was going to go down without saying a word. All I could hear was the group of girls I had come over with shouting and laughing, so so drunk. She looked at me with her green cat eyes “Come, nothing will happen to you”. And she pulled me up, roughly.
We ended up in Elephant and Castle. As we walked into the maze of the estate, I felt worse and worse. This was not my endz. I had no idea how to get home. When was we even doing here? Yet I said nothing. on the way to Elephant Nadine’s behaviour had started to change. The girls didn’t really clock because they were drunk. She was less chatty. Stopped dancing with them. Was looking deep in thought. We arrived at a block of flats and the music was so loud. There was a party going on in the top floor flat, but it seemed to spill all over the block. We started walking up the stairs and there were people everywhere. There were people doing drugs on the block steps, arguing…. sexual stuff. By the time we got to the door of the party I was physically shaking. I had on my big puffa jacket, so you couldn’t tell but I was beyond scared. The girls had gone pretty quiet as well. Just before we got to the door Nadine turned, grabbed one of the girls we were with by her hair hard and slammed her up against the wall. We all jumped like…what …. what is going on. Nadine had a knife and she slowly held it to the girl who she had against the wall’s face. The girl was saying “What did I do” over and over. Nadine looked like a stranger. She looked angry and evil. She got the knife and pushed in into her face. “Listen to me ya likkle bitch. Your gonna go in there and your gonna party…ya get me”. The girl was just wide eyed. Not a word said. Nadine walked into the party and we all followed.
Man…it was so bad. I only saw what would have been the living room. There were around 4 young girls in there, all in either their underwear or no clothes. I stood against the hallway wall, pushed against it as hard as I could. All around us where men aged, I would say between 19 and 40. The air was thick with a fishy smell and the music was so loud I could barely breath. I could kind of see in the room, but it was all dark. What I could see, once my eyes adjusted, was a girl about my age sitting on the lap of a man who looked about my dads age. She was in her knickers and had a loose t-shirt on. The man had his hand under the t-shirt, moving around and standing next to them was another man who had is trousers and pants around his ankles and had her hand and was using her hand to touch him. The girl was asleep. Stone cold knocked out. She was kind of rested against the man whose lap she was sat on and her head was lulled to the side. She had no idea what was going on.
I could not breath. I tell you now…. I could not breath. I looked around and Nadine and the girls were gone. SHIT. They had left me. I felt like I was going to be sick. The front door now had several men in the way blocking it. Not blocking me no to leave as they had no idea, I was there, just in the way smoking and drinking. I had to run. Swear down, I had to run. But I couldn’t even move. Suddenly I felt a hand grab mine and I screamed. I screamed so loud, but the music was so much louder that you couldn’t hear nothing. My head shot up and it was Nadine holding my hand. I shook my head, big tears in my eyes…. please don’t make me go in I wanted to scream. She started pulling me and I resisted. Then I realised she was pulling me towards the front door. She held my hand tight and pulled me through the people and kept pulling until we reached the bottom of the block. She held onto my hand and took me to the bus stop. We just sat there not saying a word. The bus came, and we got on. We sat at the top at the front of the double decker. I just sat there not even looking at her. She sat next to me and then just sort of grabbed me and cuddled me and I cried. Not a single word was said between us. When we got off our stop, she went into the chicken shop and got us food. I didn’t eat. She finally said, “You can go home blonde if you want”. I nodded and slowly walked off from her and when I got around the corner, I run home so fast. I wanted to tell my mum but how? Where to start?
The next day she sent for me. Sent another girl to my house to get me because I hadn’t come out at my usual time. I told the girl I was ill. Laster that night Nadine sent another girl and said she just wanted to see me. I got dressed and went to where she was. She looked like my usual Nadine, all smiles and pretty. She was on her own. And she made it very clear to me that if she had wanted to, she could have left me at the party. And that could still happen. But she didn’t want to do that with me, because I was different. I was her girl.
She was grooming…. And recruiting. And was also a victim…and she was making it very clear that she had just chose her second in command…
The grey area…. Nadine
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