Musings: I was groomed by an adult when I was a teen and victim blamed for it
I was an adult before I realised what happened wasn't my fault.
Even though nowadays technology can seem scary for us parents, we're still a lot more clued in and aware of the dangers than our parents were.
I remember chatting to anyone who added me on Bebo or IM just assuming they were also a teenager, completely naïve and my parents hadn't any idea what I was up to.
Unfortunately, being a naïve teenager led me into the path of a dangerous person and when I finally reached out for help I was told that I'd brought it on myself.
It all started when I was messaged by someone saying that they were a teenage boy who had been given my number by a friend.
At the time I was 15 and my friends had on occasion given my number to lads they thought I'd get on with so I took this person at their word.
They sent me a photo of them (which I later found out was a random lad from a clothing catalogue) and asked me to send a picture of myself.
At first everything was pretty innocent but then they started asking for photos of me posing provocatively in my school uniform.
No nudity was involved, but nowadays I think most girls would be like 'no way, this is going to get passed around Whatsapp'. I had absolutely no cop on so I sent them.
Over the course of weeks I messaged this person but then he started asking for more risqué photos and even asking if I could get my friends involved and that he would give us money if they did.
It was after these messages that I started to realise that this was not someone my age.
I baited the person I was messaging into telling me the truth, about their age at least.
I started saying that I didn't want to message them anymore and that I was only really interested in older guys.
It was then that they confessed that they were not a teenager and actually in their forties!
It was after this correspondence that I ceased answering their messages, not that they stopped.
Terrified that this person would figure out where I went to school because they had photos of me in my uniform I went to an older female relative for help.
Looking back I probably should have said it to my parents as they would have brought me to the police, but I didn't.
I went to someone I thought I could trust, but as it turned out that was the wrong decision.
When I explained what had been happening they immediately started asking what I had done to lead this person on.
They started telling me that I wasn't innocent in the situation and that I had been happy enough to go along with it so far. The fact that I was a 15-year-old child being manipulated by a man in their forties did not seem to matter.
When I asked about telling the police the relative told me the police would just say that I had brought it on myself and I would be the one who would get in trouble.
They made me feel guilty. They made me feel dirty. They made me feel shamed and I carried those feelings around for years.
To this day my parents have no idea that this happened to me.
It wasn't until I was an adult and I had younger family members like my sister and younger cousins in their teens that I realised that I had been a victim in the whole situation.
I looked at them as children because that is what they were and that was what I was.
I remember thinking if my sister ever came upon the same problem that I would immediately go to the police with her and get the person's number or IP address traced.
That I would make sure she was looked after and help her find a counsellor if she needed it.
Most of all I would make sure that she knew that it wasn't her fault.
I'll never know why the relative I told thought it was ok to victim blame a child for being groomed by a pedophile, and honestly I don't think there is any answer I would want to hear.
Once I became an adult I stopped talking to said relative and no longer have any kind of relationship with them.
If you have ever had something similar happen to you I want you to know that it was not your fault. You did not bring this upon yourself, you were not asking for it.
You were a victim and you should not be ashamed to talk about your trauma.
I hope you have someone to support you in your life but if you need someone to call here are some support lines;
Under 18 - Childline : Free Phone 1800 666666 or Free Text 50101
Over 18 - Samaritans : Free Phone 116 123