The brave young woman at the centre of the Halifax grooming gang scandal has waived her right to lifelong anonymity to reveal for the first time the full scale of the nightmare she endured at the hands of her sick abusers.
In a wide-ranging, three-part interview with Shy Society, fearless Georgia speaks out about the horrific two-year ordeal she suffered at the hands of up to 100 mainly Muslim men and breaks her silence about the pattern emerging in all four corners of Britain, as well as condemning the reaction from the political establishment.
The then schoolgirl was just 12-years-old in 2011 when groups of Pakistani Asian men started preying on her and taking advantage of a vulnerability which was heightened when her mother passed away through illness and her father left her and her sister to fend for themselves in the family home. In June 2016 at Leeds Crown Court, 15 men were jailed for a total of 160 years for the appalling sexual abuse which saw her trafficked between around 100 men in Halifax, Bradford and Manchester.
Despite it being her first interview with a media organisation, Georgia is remarkably calm as she explains that she has just put her daughter to bed. With an unmistakable Yorkshire twang, any preconceptions of talking to a victim of child sexual exploitation (CSE) are almost immediately banished as Georgia comes across as a well-spoken, thoughtful and intelligent young woman.
“My life was very chaotic at the time and I would go down to the park quite often. There used to be gangs of Asian men giving us cannabis – I was 12 at the time but they were older, like 18, 19, 20,” Georgia recalls.
“It was just me and my sister in the house and we never had any food. Some of my friends were like ‘come down to the curry place because they’ll give you free food’ and that. Which they did, but they would also ply you with drugs and alcohol, and I quickly got addicted to mainly M-Cat. I don’t even remember the first time to be honest because I was kind of ‘out of it’ a lot of the time and that’s what made it difficult because I didn’t have that many recollections; I just used to wake up half naked in a hotel room. They just left me there.”
Asked whether she realised she was being abused at the time or wrongly assumed it was normal for a girl of her age, Georgia said: “In a way yeah, it just felt like that was what happened – because there were loads of other girls. They (perpetrators) kind of said ‘this is payment’
“They were nice to start off with, bought you presents, and made you feel special – especially if you’ve got no role models in your life, and if you feel shit because nobody is there for you – if you suddenly have someone calling you really pretty and giving you free food and stuff, but it was only until they got what they wanted.”
With authorities fearing she was at risk of CSE, the teenager was moved to Leeds to try and break the cycle of abuse but Georgia harrowingly recalls that it kept on happening.
“Like if you didn’t want to, they would say ‘oh you’re just a white slut’ and ‘we’re doing this because your white parents couldn’t take care of you – this is your payment, we’ve given you everything’ and stuff.
“Also sometimes they would literally spike my drink and that. I remember drinking this stuff and it crackled in my mouth and I vomited everywhere and was so ill and then I’m assuming stuff happened as well while I was out of it because I woke up – and it’s going to sound really horrible – but with like cum all over me. That’s how I would know it had happened; I would wake up sore as well.”
Georgia admits that as a working-class child with no parental support network she almost felt worthless during the abuse, but shockingly says the initial attitude from the investigating police force allowed the abuse to continue for even longer.
“I tried to go to the police once,” she adds. “Well this missing person’s officer took me there but they made out it was a lifestyle choice I was doing so it put me off for a few more months. It really upset me – they (perpetrators) were the ones that had got me addicted, I was only 12 and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t even really know what cannabis was when they were giving it me.
“Though I was a child, the authorities initially acted like I consented. And when they realised the perpetrators were from the Muslim community they made out like it was me who had the issue. I had to fight really hard to be believed.”
Despite being too intoxicated or high on drugs to remember much of the abuse, Georgia says that a few instances still haunt her to this day.
“I do have memories. After I did my police interviews, which lasted for something like 30 hours, it kind of unlocked some stuff that I had been hiding. I went through a period where I was really anxious, didn’t want to leave the house, and I got diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which I am still working through.”
Speaking from her new flat on the south coast, around 300 miles away from where the crimes took place, we ask Georgia how much she thinks race played a part in the crimes.
“My vulnerability was definitely the main reason because I was an easy target, but at the same time I don’t believe they would have done it to a member of their own community. I know a few Hindu and Sikh girls who have been victims, and there’s a Czech girl as well who I won’t name, so it’s kind of anyone other than them. But predominantly it was white, working-class girls.”
And though Georgia defiantly maintains she is moving on with her life, and is now in employment, she confesses that the psychological pain never fully leaves and that some days are worse than others.
“I’m now living a long way away in a really beautiful place. It’s a place that is slightly different to Bradford, let’s put it that way. It may be wrong of me to say, but if I see a Pakistani man in the street I will get scared, my heart will beat really fast. And I know that’s a stupid reaction – they are probably completely harmless and have gone to get a pint of milk or something – but these are the kind of scars it has left behind.”
Tune in on Friday, here at Shy Society, for part two where Georgia gives a no holds barred account of the UK’s current grooming gang epidemic.
Updated 10:48 on 22/09/2017: read part two of Georgia’s interview here.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain