AN ABUSED woman who was trafficked and sold as a sex slave has revealed she was doused in petrol and nearly set on fire during years of horrific abuse.
The abuse began for Jenny, whose name has been changed, when she met her 70-year-old neighbour ‘Keith’.
He would invite her round to his house, give her lifts to school, and buy her gifts.
But as time went on and Jenny reached the age of 13, the sick neighbour started to demand sex in return for his favours.
Speaking in a video for the Salvation Army, Jenny, now 23, explained: “I realised it was wrong when he started to say ‘I’ve done this for you, what are you going to do for me?’
“I said I didn’t want to.
“He said: ‘It’ll only take a couple of seconds’ and I was special to him and ‘if he was special to me and I appreciated what he did I’d have sex’.
They’d pass you around. The men would then bring their friends in and then the network got bigger.
“I think from the first time that’s when he felt he owned you or made his mark on you.”
As the months passed, Keith introduced Jenny to more men to have sex with.
Those men would be “more forceful and violent” while offering Jenny drugs and alcohol.
She said: “They’d offer you weed, they’d offer you drugs, they’d offer you alcohol, and they were a lot more forceful and violent.
“They’d pass you around. The men would then bring their friends in and then the network got bigger.”
At 17, Keith moved away and she was pawned off to a gang of men, who illegally traded her as a sex slave.
Although she was never paid – except in phone credit, cigarettes, or drugs – the gang made a lot of money out of her services, while she endured unimaginable horror, and was thrown out of the family home.
After numerous hospital visits to treat her horrific injuries and suffering a miscarriage, Jenny tried to seek help, explaining: “My feelings of utter desolation grew. I tried to escape, but had nowhere to go, no money. Every exit was blocked.
“Even if I stepped just a few yards on my own, I was followed. When I ran away to domestic abuse refuges, I couldn’t stay long because I didn’t fit their remit of a domestic abuse victim, they classed me as a sex worker.”
The turning point came when police picked Jenny up after she was doused with petrol, thrown out of a car and nearly set on fire by the gang.
Identified as a victim of trafficking, she was then advised by Victim Support to call the Salvation Army’s 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline.
She recalled: “At first, I was too scared to believe my nightmare could be over.
“It helped that the volunteers took my phone, releasing me from the constant threats and that I was far away from home, so I stopped worrying that every car I saw was prowling for me.
“But the relief was hard to process. I was finally in a safe house, with a clean bed, warm shower and someone to make me a cup of tea without asking for payment in sexual favours.”
At 23 years old Jenny is now free and hopes to study at university so she can teach people how to spot and stop grooming.
She said: “The thought that I might be able to prevent even one case drives me. But first, I’m learning how to live normally.”