A survivor of child sexual exploitation has waived her anonymity to speak out in the hope of helping others come forward.

When she was just 12-years-old, Lowri Hawkins was groomed by a 28-year old man who approached her while she and a friend stood outside a shop.

We were waiting for somebody stupid enough to go in for us. He pulled up in his car, a nice car, and we asked him to go in and he said yes, as long as I gave him his number. It started from there. Every day he text me, anything you need from me, do you want to meet up, and I thought why not? I've got nothing else to do. My emotions and my mind were all over the place and I wasn't 100% sure what I was feeling or thinking.

Lowri Hawkins
Lowri was 12-years-old when she met her abuser. Credit: Lowri Hawkins

She formed a relationship with him over the next 18 months and fell pregnant by the time she was 13. The teenager was too ill to have the baby and had an abortion.

Lowri, who was using drugs before she left primary school, drank heavily and was in care at the time. She thought she would never be believed.

However, after watching a documentary on child grooming she decided to tell her foster dad the truth.

I was sat with my foster dad watching a documentary of a girl being groomed by an older guy, but I didn't know what I'd been going through, so then it just fell into place. It was a relief, I kept it quiet for so long and nobody knew anything. After that I was like, I don't need to question myself, I didn't do anything wrong, it was him.

Lowri Hawkins

Her abuser was jailed for ten years and now seven years on, Lowri has her life back.

Now a mother to a little girl, she is in college hoping to become a social worker to help others like her. She also helps train the police about child sexual exploitation.

''I don't just want to just be an anonymous person who's been through something. I'm on the other side and I'm happy. I just want to make a difference,'' she said.

DS Emma Coopey took on Lowri's case and has since been by her side. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Lowri credits DS Emma Coopey, a specialist in the field who took on her case, for her recovery.

DS Coopey says exploitation is a complex issue and hopes that with the help of Lowri, officers can be educated on how they should approach the issue and deal with children affected by it.

It's important for us that when we deal with an investigation that we review what were doing and reflect on we could have done better. It will enable us to educate officers on how they should approach exploitation, how they deal with the child and how this affects the child.

DS Emma Coopey, Gwent Police.

Richard Watson, Lowri's foster dad, has been with her every step of the way, and said he couldn't be prouder.

''She didn't see she had any future, it's all been down to her, hopefully she'll eventually become a social worker.''

  • If you or someone you know has been affected by an of these issues, please call Childline for free on 0800 1111.

  • Wales This Week is on ITV Cymru Wales on Monday October 7 at 8pm.