Sammy Woodhouse, who was groomed and raped by the leader of a paedophile gang in Rotherham, has said she feared waiving her anonymity, but realised that the 'shame' is for '[the abuser] to carry, not me'.
Ms Woodhouse waived the right to anonymity and is calling for a change in law after it was revealed that local authorities had invited her abuser to apply for parental rights to her son.
She was 15 when she was raped by Arshid Hussain, now 43, and subsequently became pregnant.
Talking about waiving her anonymity, she told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “I have always thought I would not waive my anonymity because of my safety but then I thought the man who raped me, and his family, know where I live, they know who I am, they know where my family live.
“They were sending people to my house and contacting my child so I thought the risk is already there.
“What I have realised now is that I was so nervous to waive my anonymity, not because of fear of him and his gang, but for fear of not being accepted into society.
“I think that is the same for a lot of people.”
No parental responsibility
Her abuser was jailed for 35 years in 2016 after being convicted of multiple sex offences against Ms Woodhouse and others.
An investigation by the Times found that social workers from Rotherham council had contacted Hussain in jail and invited him to apply for access to his son during a court case last year.
The boy was subject to care proceedings in the family court, and despite Hussain not being listed on his birth certificate and having no parental responsibility, he was listed as a respondent in the case and visited by social workers.
Current legal guidelines say that all parents, regardless of parental responsibility, should be given notice of care proceedings.
Ms Woodhouse told talkRADIO that she was not aware Hussain had been contacted until she was in court.
'Why am I the one that is living in fear?'
Arshid Hussain was convicted of grooming and sexually abusing Sammy Woodhouse and other young girls in Rotherham. Image: South Yorkshire Police
Ms Woodhouse, now 33, has been a vocal campaigner for the rights of women and abuse victims and once again waived her right to anonymity to reveal the initial story in the Times was about her and her son.
She added she felt she was “hiding away” through her anonymity.
“I wanted to waive my anonymity because when I campaign I do a lot of work around many different things, not just policies,” she said.
“I felt – my pseudonym was Jessica – I felt I had gone as far as I could with Jessica, and I thought, 'why am I the one that is hiding away? Why am I the one that is living in fear with all the shame?'
“With all these bad feelings, surely that is for him to carry, not me.”