Telford child abuse survivors describe lasting impacts of horrific exploitation

More than 1,000 children were sexually exploited and abused in Telford

An independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford has revealed the true extent of suffering victims and survivors experienced. 

The damning report, chaired by Tom Crowther QC, was released on Tuesday (12 July) after years of investigation into allegations of abuse in Telford, dating back to the 1980s. 

It concluded more than 1,000 children were sexually exploited and abused. 

Survivor impact statements within the report describe how the actions of these men destroyed the lives of not only victims but also their families, driving some to have suicidal thoughts.  

One person said: “Eight years later and I still wish I was dead. I wish I had took my life while I was there. The last eight years of my life weren’t worth what I went through."

Mr Crowther also revealed he has read other “harrowing evidence providing details of self-harm, where children have choked themselves, strangled and cut themselves”. 

Survivors described how their friendships and social lives have suffered because of the abuse. 

One person said: "When these things happened, I was 15 years of age. I should have been enjoying myself with my friends... I felt that I was just something to be used and then thrown away when I had no further use. I lose all my self-confidence. I felt worthless.” 

Another added: "My social life is non-existent as I don’t make friends easily due to not trusting anyone because of what this man has done to me, and the way he has made me look at people and life."

The report itself concluded the suffering endured has had an impact that is "destructive to family life."

The author said: "Friendships suffer, and forming relationships often becomes difficult. Education and employment are marred; lives are changed irreversibly."

'My life will never quite feel whole'

Further survivor statements described this suffering and the lasting impact the abuse has had.

One said: "Yes I suppose I would say I’m less fortunate, other people might argue differently, you know I’m still here. But ultimately it's been a fine line for me not to do so because my life will always feel like a half-life.

"My life, because of what happened and the level of abuse that occurred over so may years, will never feel quite whole and that’s where we leave victims of child sexual exploitation. Never, ever feeling quite whole."

Another survivor added: "When I allow myself to look back into the shadows of my childhood I see not the laughing faces of a happy family gathering and holidays, I can't seem to see past the hollow eyes and shrunken face of my mother whose body and mind had been taken over by depression and anxiety… she worried too much, and I wish I never let my mum find out and just kept it to myself."

The abuse also left an impact on some victims when they started their own families. 

One person described: "I have missed several years of his (her child’s) life as I have felt that I have not been able to bond with him in the right way."

In order to write the report, Mr Crowther looked back at evidence from 170 witnesses and statements dating back to 1989. 

The report concluded key agencies dismissed exploitation as ‘child prostitution’ and child abuse and exploitation was ignored. 

It also concluded that information was not properly shared between agencies.

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this article, you can get help by contacting:

  • West Mercia Police - Have specially trained officers who will listen to you and treat you with sensitivity and compassion, click here

  • Voluntary organisations, such as Rape Crisis, The Survivors Trust and Woman's aid.

  • The Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12 to 2.30pm and 7 to 9.30pm every day of the year).

  • A hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department. A doctor or practice nurse at your GP surgery.

  • A genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic, a contraceptive clinic,  young people's service.

  • For mental health advice, Samaritans operate a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at

  • Papyrus offers mental health support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to