Big congratulations to Zoe Patterson whose book, ‘Trafficked Girl’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Harper Element. I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Rosie Margesson for inviting me to participate. Though I am not a big reader of non-fiction, this book really caught my eye and I was intrigued to know why Zoe decided to tell her story and what she hopes to achieve in doing so.
Zoe has written an exclusive guest post for my blog, but first here’s what ‘Trafficked Girl’ is about.
When Zoe was taken into care at the age of 13, she thought she was finally going to escape from the cruel abuse she had suffered throughout her childhood. Then social services placed her in a residential unit known to be ‘a target for prostitution’, and suddenly Zoe’s life was worse than it had ever been before.
Abused and ostracized by her mother, humiliated by her father’s sexual innuendos, physically assaulted and bullied by her eldest brother, even as a young child Zoe thought she deserved the desperately unhappy life she was living.
‘I’ve sharpened a knife for you,’ her mother told her the first time she noticed angry red wounds on her daughter’s arms. And when Zoe didn’t kill herself, her mother gave her whisky, which she drank in the hope that it would dull the miserable, aching loneliness of her life.
One day at school Zoe showed her teacher the livid bruises that were the result of her mother’s latest physical assault and within days she was taken into care.
Zoe had been at Denver House for just three weeks when an older girl asked if she’d like to go to a party, then took her to a house where there were just three men. Zoe was a virgin until that night, when two of the men raped her. Having returned to the residential unit in the early hours of the morning, when she told a member of staff what had happened to her, her social worker made a joke about it, then took her to get the morning-after pill.
For Zoe, the indifference of the staff at the residential unit seemed like further confirmation of what her mother had always told her – she was worthless. Before long, she realised that the only way to survive in the unit was to go to the ‘parties’ the older girls were paid to take her to, drink the drinks, smoke the cannabis and try to blank out what was done to her when she was abused, controlled and trafficked around the country.
No action was taken by the unit’s staff or social workers when Zoe asked for their help, and without anyone to support or protect her, the horrific abuse continued for the next few years, even after she left the unit. But in her heart Zoe was always a fighter. This is the harrowing, yet uplifting story, of how she finally broke free of the abuse and neglect that destroyed her childhood and obtained justice for her years of suffering.
Why I decided to tell my story and what I hope to achieve in doing so
For many years now, I have wanted to share my story with a view to helping others. Receiving and reviewing my Social Services’ records and realising that the abuse I was forced to endure was actually so easily preventable made my resolve to tell my story that much greater.
On a professional level, I would like my story to reach those who have the power to prevent and put a stop to physical, sexual and emotional abuse in all of its forms. I want to shine a light on the failures of those in charge of other people’s care and safety in the hope that lessons will be learned.
I understand that many social workers are perhaps underpaid and overworked. Whilst this may be true, it should not take away from their moral duty to protect others from the risk of serious damage or harm. It must not be forgotten that children in care are human beings, no more or less important than any other child in the world who is fortunate enough to live within a loving family home.
The police also have a moral obligation to protect the vulnerable from the risk of serious damage or harm. When I was a child, the police often visited my primary school. From these visits I concluded that police officers were ‘good’ and could be relied upon in any emergency. You can imagine my surprise when those very same police officers who smiled at me in primary school looked upon me with scorn and contempt not more than two years later because I was a child living in the care system.
I wondered what it was that had changed for them, because I can say with absolute certainty that I was the same girl I had always been, only now a little more damaged, hurt and betrayed. And it really did hurt to know that the police officers I had admired just a couple of years earlier thought so little of me and had absolutely no intention of rescuing me from the men who so shamelessly trafficked me.
On a personal level, I want to use my story to reach out to others who have experienced abuse. I want you to know that whatever happened to you was not your fault. You are not to blame.
I want you to know that, as survivors of abuse, we are beacons of hope. We are the proof that good exists within the human race. We survived something horrific and chose to carry on living, hoping and loving despite being exposed to the darker side of humanity. That takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength, which is something abusers just don’t have.
As survivors of abuse, we are the proof that whilst abusers may change our lives, they cannot change our spirit, and in that sense we are untouchable. How incredible is that!
© Zoe Patterson 2018
What a fabulous guest post. I really admire Zoe for how she has dealt with things and I hope her story is of inspiration to all those who have been in a similar situation. I am looking forward to reading Zoe’s book.
‘Trafficked Girl’ is available to buy from:-
Harper Collins – https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008148041/trafficked-girl/
About Zoe Patterson
Zoe Patterson is 29 and a qualified personal trainer. Having discovered that she has a natural talent for boxing, Zoe is about to start training as a boxing coach in the hope of being able to help other women who have been disadvantaged in some way to improve their self-esteem and create positive futures for themselves.
To find out more about Zoe and her story follow her blog – http://www.zoepattersonfightingback.com/