THE BLOG

Support For Grooming Victims Like Corrie's Bethany Is Vital

04/10/2017 17:24
TV Plc

Anyone who's ever been a victim of crime will know how confusing and daunting the criminal justice process can be.

Reporting the matter to police, providing statements, recounting your version of events in interviews and being called as a witness in court can all take their toll.

And all the while you're trying to process how you feel about what is possibly the worst thing to have happened to you in your whole life.

Now imagine you're a child in that situation.

Grooming

That's the terrifying prospect Coronation Street's Bethany Platt faced as she headed to court to give evidence against Nathan Curtis, a man she believed was in love with her but was grooming her for sexual exploitation.

Nathan preyed upon teenager Bethany when she was at her most vulnerable, winning her trust and affection before raping and abusing her.

He systematically ground down her spirit, isolated her from her family and friends, and coerced her into having sex with other men.

But her ordeal didn't end with Nathan's arrest. In Monday's episodes Bethany faced Nathan's plans to derail the trial and even had to deal with violence and threats from his friends.

Journey to Justice

Through recent research for Barnardo's Journey to Justice report, we've found that, just like Bethany, young people often reported feeling unsafe and intimidated during the criminal justice process.

Perpetrators of child sexual exploitation like Corrie's Nathan use threats and intimidation to keep their victims silent and through our research young people told us they had been intimidated or threatened by the perpetrator or their friends and family.

Like Bethany, victims show a great deal of bravery when they speak up about their abuse and disclose it to police.

It takes even more courage, tenacity and emotional resilience to see that through the whole criminal justice process.

Having to tell your story over and over again means having to relive the trauma, and repeated questioning can mean that children feel like they are to blame for their own abuse. This can be hugely distressing for a child or young person who has already been through so much and can lead to them questioning whether anyone believes them.

That's why it's so vital for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation to be offered one-to-one support from an independent practitioner who will support them through the whole process, from disclosure and police investigation, right through a trial and beyond.

At Barnardo's we've been supporting victims of child sexual exploitation for more than 20 years so we know how important it is for young people to be believed.

Bethany has had to relive her abuse numerous times - she's summoned the courage to tell her friends, her family and the police - but it's having an effect on her.

Achieving justice should not mean that children are left traumatised and distressed by the process, and having an independent practitioner who will believe them and support them all the way through it is vital.

Bravery

Just like real victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation, Corrie's Bethany has shown immense bravery in navigating the criminal justice minefield.

Now we can only hope that Nathan gets the justice he deserves.

But a guilty verdict is not necessarily the end of the road for Bethany. The grooming, control and coercion Nathan has put her through will have taken their toll - she'll need support to overcome her ordeal.

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