Did you watch the recent TV series Three Girls about the scandal in Rochdale involving under age girls being trafficked and sexually abused. It was quite shocking actually but the thing that upset me the most, and has been playing on my mind since, is what happened to cause those girls to end up where they did. The girls found comfort in the local kebab shop, where they were fed and given a place to play, jump around and be children. They felt cared for, looked after and safe. This was before it all started to go wrong, when the men that purported to care turned into the evil selfish abusers who were controlling and threatening to these young vulnerable children.
The scene that I can’t get out my head is one from the beginning of series 1 when Holly, who has recently moved to the area, comes home from school. Her father, who has recently lost his job, is sitting at the computer when Holly walks into the room to be met with:
“Get your gloves on the bins need emptying”
Her dad, like many men in this position clearly did not see it as his role to be bin emptier, or help out around the house. His own angers and frustration were taken out on his eldest daughter. When she walked into the kitchen she saw her mother feeding and caring for the other children. How must that have felt for Holly? She was bullied and emotionally and verbally abused by her own father, the man who should have been her strongest protector. She sought solace in new friends whose home lives were no better, if not a lot worse. Holly was easily led and influenced.
How many families are witness to bullying and scapegoating of children? How many wives stand by and watch their kids being abused by reckless incompetent fathers. When Holly’s father found out his daughter had been raped and abused by “Daddy” and the other sociopathic paedophiles he cried and cried because he realised that he had failed her.
Hundreds of vulnerable girls across the UK were failed and failed again and continue to be failed. It is a shocking indictment of our times. Thankfully there were good people out there looking to put things right. Particularly Sara Rowbotham, a sexual health worker, who tried endlessly to put a stop to the abuse and was met by blank faces of irresponsibility from the professionals.
At the end of the the last programme Holly’s father turned to her and said “I’m proud of you Holly, I couldn’t be more proud”
So this man was proud of her for standing up in Court, against 9 men to retell her story for the 3rd time to the police. The first 2 attempts had got her nowhere. I wonder how Holly felt when she heard that from her father. What does a young girl need from a father? Is it words, is it actions or is it love and security? Vulnerable children do not just happen.
There was no mention at all of a father figure being present in the lives of the other two girls in the programme.
Unfortunately in nearly 20 years as a therapist I have heard time and again of young people, boys and girls, being let down by their fathers. If not abandoned completely, then ignored, not listened to, bullied or abused. When your own father doesn’t bother with you or value you then its not surprising that you end up with low self-esteem, feel worthless – like you don’t matter. It only takes another male figure to come along and give you what need for you to feel loved. This is how grooming works!
I’m not saying what happened to these girls is the fault of anyone other than the perpetrators. What I am saying is don’t let your little ones become vulnerable.
Wake up Fathers of England. Be the Men that this country needs. Be the Fathers that your children can rely on. Be the husbands that the bearers of your children deserve. Its NOT all about YOU. Responsibility begins at home in the family.
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