Book is 'end of a chapter' for inspirational South Yorkshire child abuse survivor

Inspirational is an overused word. Its ubiquity has led to it losing its true meaning.

Wednesday, 11th April 2018, 8:57 pm
Updated Monday, 16th April 2018, 8:11 am
Sammy Woodhouse. Picture: Andrew Roe.

Inspirational is an overused word. Its ubiquity has led to it losing its true meaning.

The Oxford English dictionary defines it as: “Providing or showing creative or spiritual inspiration.”

Sammy Woodhouse has written Just A Child. Picture: Andrew Roe.

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You often see footballers labelled as inspirational for helping their team to a win but is that really inspirational?

Meet Sammy Woodhouse – a 32-year-old mum-of-two doing everything she can to support her two sons – something you could rightly label as ‘inspirational’.

But Sammy has far deeper and more emotive reasons why she truly can carry the label.

At the age of just 14 Sammy met Arshid Hussain – a then 24-year-old man who told her she was his ‘girlfriend’ before going on to groom and rape her.

Arshid Hussain.

Sammy was subjected to a decade of abuse before finally escaping gangleader Hussain’s grasp.

Eighteen years on, Sammy gives regular talks about her experiences to police forces, councils and schoolchildren.

And today, after four years of work, she has released a book telling the story of how she was groomed in Rotherham by Hussain in the hope it will allow teenagers and victims to spot the signs.

Sammy said: “As you read it, it’s as if I am there right now because if I was to look back now it would have been totally different.

Sammy Woodhouse has written Just A Child. Picture: Andrew Roe.

“I want the reader to be on my journey and it’s really frustrating when I look back because I want to shake myself and get away from it.”

The book – Just A Child – tells how Sammy would escape from her foster home to meet Hussain, known as Ash only for him to ply her with alcohol and rape her.

Sammy waived her right to anonymity in a bid to help other victims last year and, as well as her talks to authorities and in schools, also appears regularly in the media campaigning and raising awareness of child sexual exploitation.

But she said the book includes details, which she has not yet disclosed, and she admitted it does go into ‘graphic’ detail about the abuse.

Arshid Hussain.

In the book Sammy speaks about giving birth to her son James at the age of just 15, who was fathered by Ash.

“I have always avoided talking about my son and I talk about him in the book. I also talk about my mum – she died in my arms. Even when I do my talks now I can’t talk about either of them because I get emotional,” she said.

Hussain was jailed for 35 years in February 2016 after being found guilty of grooming, raping and sexually assaulting 15 teenage girls, including Sammy who bravely gave evidence at the trial.

His brothers Basharat, and Bannaras, 36, were jailed for 25 and 19 years.

Sammy said: “It’s been harder to write my book than go to court because I just thought I would go and meet my ghost writer and it would be written but you have got to go so deep into your emotions.

“I remember when we first started writing I was so emotional and at one point I just burst into tears.”

Sammy said she had two aims for the book – to raise awareness of child abuse but also develop an understanding of the issue.

“I have written it in a language which people can relate to. It speaks as well about when I first realised I was being abused I heard something on the news which said ‘54 girls had been befriended by Asian men’ – and that’s what clicked it for me,” she added.

Sammy said writing the book had ‘helped’ her emotionally and described it as the ‘end of a chapter’.

“In a way it’s given me closure. I will still go on and talk about my experiences but it’s like the end of the past five years,” she said.

“As a family we still have our struggles especially with my son because he had a relationship with his dad and his family so it’s been really hard on him.”

Using your own desperately tragic experiences to help others – now, that truly is inspirational.

Just A Child is available for £7.99.