A teenage victim of sexual exploitation has taken the brave decision to speak out to raise awareness of predators who prey on children.
Kyran Peet, from Chorley, has highlighted about the abuse he suffered when he was just 12.
Now 19, he has seen his abuser jailed and is working with The Children’s Society, who supported him through the court case.
He is preparing to complete an epic trek through the Brazilian jungle to raise money for the charity.
He said: “I was groomed by an older guy who was lying about his age. I met him through Facebook. He added me as a friend and I accepted and then we started messaging. I was about 12 or 13 when the abuse was starting.
“I didn’t think it was anything abusive at the time. I thought I was in love.
“He was pretending to be in his late teens and I was 13. I didn’t think it was that bad an age gap.
“He would come up every 2-4 weeks and would literally move in with me and my mum. He would spend a week at a time at my house.
“I told my mum he was 16 and he was just a friend and it took a lot of begging from me for her to let him stay.
“When I started to have my doubts I did some snooping and research and it turned out he was actually 23. That was after about seven months and at that point I went to the police.
“Even then I was backing out a little bit. But The Children’s Society helped me see why it was important to come forward and then he got in contact with a couple of my friends about meeting up so I thought ‘enough is enough’.
“There was sexual abuse in terms of having sex but also mental abuse. He would make me feel like I was crazy. I was picking up on things and people had messaged me from his area and warned me about him but when I confronted him he made me feel there was something wrong with me. Part of me knew something was wrong but then he was telling me different stories.
“He said he had been raped when he was younger so there was no way he would do anything like that.
“He was even showing me Facebook profiles of people he said had abused him when he was younger.
“The court case was a traumatic thing to go through but it went well. It was an extremely stressful situation but it’s hard to imagine how much more unbearable the stress would have been without that support.
“I’m proof of what The Children’s Society can do for young people. Their support has been so important and it has opened up opportunities for me. I want other young people to know this support is available.
“Now I’m really good. I’m on a gap year and have just finished my A-levels.
“I’ve been doing part-time bar work. I do weekly acting classes and I hope I’ll be able to get a place at drama school in the next couple of years.
“After the case was over I got more involved with The Children’s Society.
“I’ve been doing work with The Children’s Society’s Team Gold group which looks at applications from young people the charity has worked with for money to support projects they want to set up.
“I’ve been on residential weekends and I’ve done stuff about the criminal justice system and reports about what needs to change.
“I won the Lancashire High Sheriff’s 2014 Young Citizen of the Year Award – partly in recognition of my support for The Children’s Society in raising awareness about child sexual exploitation.”