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.
I need to start this with saying, What an amazing courage this must have take to tell your story.
This subject has been very topical recently in the news, and after the big Rochdale scandal that broke out, being just a few miles from my home town, it was something I followed.
This book is very similar to what happened there, only in this case no one wanted to help Zoe.
Unloved and uncared for by her family, Zoe found herself in care. What goes on to happen to this poor girl whilst in care is utterly tragic. It hard to imagine it is happening. That those vulnerable children are being take advantage of.
Zoe was failed by everyone around her, it makes you angry reading this, it makes you cry, it makes you want to reach out and help.
Heartbreaking, and very upsetting. This was a difficult read due to the subject, yet it was brilliantly told and put together. Knowing it really is happening out there, yet children like Zoe find a strength to carry one. An amazing person.
This book stays with you long after you finish reading it.
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