The way lives were devastated by the Rotherham grooming scandal has been laid bare in a new collection of first-hand accounts.
Child victims made pregnant by rapists, fathers racked with guilt and even families of convicted abusers have bravely shared their harrowing stories.
The new compilation, called ‘Voices of Despair, Voices of Hope’, is designed to provide an outlet for those who have suffered directly as a result of the scandal.
Authors Chrissy Meleady MBE and Liam Harron plan to publish regular updated versions of the report, with the eventual hope it will influence policies and bring about positive changes in the town.
The pair said they wanted to create something to give a voice to victims of child sexual exploitation and their families and help improve the systems and procedures in place to assist them.
One contributor to the report, a father of an abuse victim, said he was filled with guilt and anger at what happened to his daughter.
He said: “It’s my job to protect my children. It’s a father’s job and I failed one of my kids. I didn’t see it coming.
“If I did not have my faith, I think I would have hunted them down by now and taken each one out, one by one. But it is not the way.
“The only way is rebuilding the shell of our child and filling her out with love.”
One victim, who was made pregnant by her abusers and later suffered a miscarriage, said she could not face telling her father the truth about the reason she was having a baby.
“I knew that hearing I was pregnant was bad enough for him but to hear how I had been gang-raped not once but loads of times would kill him. I wanted to be his little girl still. I needed to be.”
The daughter of a man convicted of child abuse also shared her story for the report. She said their family have been condemned by their community, while she has been threatened with revenge rape attacks.
“Men like our father leave devastation in their trail. They make multiple victims,” she said.
“We are his victims too and our children’s children will have to carry his abuse because of our association with him.”
Rotherham Council has ordered 1,500 copies of the report to give to frontline staff and it has also been presented to local MPs and senior politicians in London.
Mr Harron said there are many examples of people within the council doing their best to help the victims, but they are facing a ‘phenomenal’ challenge to change a ‘huge corporate culture’.
He added: “If a giant hurricane had hit Rotherham and devastated the lives of 1,400 people, what would the response have been?
“What would the response have been if it turned out the police and council were told it was on the way?
“That is the reality – an emotional and psychological hurricane has devastated this community.”
Ms Meleady said she believed the report had ‘empowered’ those who took part and would have a positive impact in time.
She said: “I think the healing has started. The first thing that needs to happen is for people to come out of the shadows.
“Once that door opens it gives confidence for others to come forward and hopefully the authorities start responding in a positive way.”
n Anyone wanting to order a copy of the report, which costs £5, can email firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds will go towards supporting those directly affected by child sexual exploitation.
To listen to a report on the publication, go to www.asianradiolive.com/programme_child_sexual_exploitation.htm