Woman pimped out in her teens denied compensation for seven-year ordeal
Lucy was raped and forced into prostitution from the age of 11, but despite reporting her horrific seven-year ordeal to the police and providing evidence has not been considered suitable for a payout.
She was physically and sexually abused by her grandad when she was too young to fight back before he sold her for the first time.
‘I was 11 when my grandad started abusing me,’ Lucy exclusively told Metro.co.uk.
‘He was doing it basically every night when I stayed over. And then he sold me to my first man.
‘My grandad had hit me and threatened me with something worse if I ever said anything. I was terrified. I went to my GP but he put the marks and cuts down to thrush and itching. So the GP actually failed me.’
Although he was jailed for raping her and ‘arranging child prostitution’, she was denied compensation because she got into a fight when her life spiralled out of control as a result of the trauma she had suffered.
The survivor, who spoke under an assumed name, is backing a campaign by Women Against Rape (WAR) to stop victims of sexual offences being refused payments because they have committed relatively minor offences.
She spoke about how, aged 18, she finally found the courage to report the abuse, but was left with severe mental scars.
A week after contacting police she drank heavily and overdosed on drugs before getting into a fight in town. She was arrested by officers in A&E, and was sectioned a week later.
Unbeknown to the victim at the time, she would have been successful in her compensation claim if she had waited five days to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA), as the conviction for assault would have been spent.
‘After the sentencing I applied for compensation,’ she said.
‘But they rejected me on the grounds that I had an unspent conviction.
‘I appealed and went to a tribunal, and I completely outright got rejected. It feels like CICA is punishing me again. But I’ve served my sentence.
‘They ought to know that rape is a serious crime which can affect your mental health. They shouldn’t judge us morally or blame us, they should give us the resources we need for recovery. And value that my reporting him could have spared other young girls from his abuse.’
Now in her 20s, Lucy recalled the appalling abuse that included being sold to other men in a wood. The mental scars led her down a path leading to drink, drugs and self-harm.
Lucy was not the only victim, as the sexual predator, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was eventually arrested for abusing two other girls.
‘Because he had got away with it once, it continued over several years – there must have been over 200 men,’ she said.
‘There were times where he got involved, where he watched, there was one time when there was five men on me.
‘My mental health started to deteriorate. I’d drink to the point I’d wake up in hospital because I just wanted to block everything out.
‘I tried to overdose. I cut my wrists. I kept myself in hospital for nine weeks because I was safe in there.’
After Lucy came forward there was an eight-month wait before her grandad was charged.
As the investigation took place, her mental health deteriorated and a week after speaking to the police she got into the altercation.
‘I had loads of alcohol and overdosed on drugs and I was in a fight in town,’ she said. ‘The police arrested me in A&E, then a week later I was sectioned. But they still charged me with assault.
‘If I’d known the conviction was an issue I could have waited five days before applying for compensation as by then it would have been spent.’
The rapist’s victims had to wait another year and a half before the case came to court. Text messages he had sent to his granddaughter were among the evidence stacked against him.
Although her abuser pleaded guilty at court, Lucy, who lives in England, was left with little sense of closure and she is still struggling to recover from the psychological impact of the damage he inflicted on her.
‘My mental health is sometimes very bad,’ she said.
‘I need weekly support from the community mental health nurse. I suffer flashbacks and terrible nightmares and I take anti-anxiety drugs.
‘My parents are really good but I have some family members that still don’t believe it, even though I had all this text message evidence from him, and he pleaded guilty in court.’
WAR has attacked the ‘scandal’ of women being denied compensation for sexual offences or having payouts reduced under rules where victims’ ‘character and conduct’ can be called into question.
In another case, a woman who was repeatedly raped by two men when she was 13 was refused a payout because she had been prosecuted for driving without insurance and refusing to take a sample test.
The London-based group, which wants an overhaul of the government-run CICA scheme, has launched an online petition at Change.org demanding that ‘discriminatory’ barriers to compensation are abolished.
‘We need a platform and with WAR we’ve found it,’ Lucy said.
‘I’m not alone any more. The platform is brill and I’d add I’d like to be a part of changing things for the future victims.
‘Together we have to force the government to change this unfair rule denying compensation to victims of sexual assaults just because of unrelated convictions.’
The government has said the compensation scheme ‘is one the most generous of its kind in the world’ and it is clear that ‘victims should receive all the help they need’.
The intention of the unspent convictions rule is to reflect the harm done to others and the cost to society of offending behaviour when deciding who is eligible for state-funded compensation.
A review by the Ministry of Justice last year concluded that the principles of the scheme must be maintained but recognised that the payouts are ‘an important and public recognition of their ordeal’.
A spokesperson said: ‘Unspent convictions can lead to reduced or withheld compensation to reflect the harm offenders have done to society.
‘Our compensation scheme is one of the most generous in the world – paying out over £150 million to victims last year.
‘We are further supporting victims by increasing funding for vital services to £185 million a year which are open to all survivors of rape.’
To view the petition click here.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org