A teenager who suffered nightmares and flashbacks after being a victim of child sexual exploitation is one of a number of people benefitting from support offered in Cambridgeshire.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is urging victims of child sexual exploitation to come forward and report it.
The Constabulary works in partnership with local authorities, safeguarding boards and local and national charities to ensure victims receive the on-going support they may need.
Embrace Child Victims of Crime is one of many charities working with police to offer support. Embrace focuses solely on supporting young victims and witnesses of crime up to the age of 18.
Since January, the charity has received 16 referrals for sexual exploitation. These are teenagers living in the county who are either victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE) or who are at significant risk of being a victim.
One female teenager was referred to the specialist counselling service having demonstrated symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. These included nightmares, flashbacks, inability to sleep, suspicious feelings and difficulties in trusting others. She was fearful of going out.
A series of counselling sessions with a specialist therapist who was used to working with traumatised young people, was arranged. The teenager was able to discuss her situation and her fears openly without being judged.
The therapist was able to discuss strategies and techniques to cope with the irrational feelings and negative thoughts.
As a result, the teenager said she felt a much happier person and was much more confident as a result of the sessions.
Chief Executive of Embrace Anne Campbell said: “Every year we receive more sex-crime related referrals than any other type of crime. In recent years this has accounted for two thirds of all referrals.
“Our aim is to help as many young victims and witnesses to serious crime, including CSE, as possible and help them come to terms with what has happened, recover and move on towards achieving their potential.
“Low self-esteem and a lack of aspiration are sadly common amongst those young people we help. Often they just need someone to talk to, someone who will listen and be non-judgemental.”
Detective Sergeant Kath McCready from the CSE Team hopes more young people will come forward in the know that they will be given long-term support by charities and groups who are committed to providing caring, sensitive and dedicated services.
She said: “CSE often goes unnoticed but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The reality is that it is taking place across Cambridgeshire.
“We are working hard to try and educate and make young people aware of this type of exploitation and encourage them, if they feel they are a victim, to come forward.”
To report child sexual exploitation call 101. In an emergency always call 999. For support from Embrace, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 60 999 60.