Real Life

REAL LIFE: My youth worker abused me and got me pregnant

I pulled back my doona and let out a scream. Someone was hiding there.

By As told to Take 5

Rachel Brown, 17, shares her true life story;

I opened the door to the youth club and a voice called out, "Hello Rachel."
"Hi Craig," I replied, smiling.
He was one of the staff at the club and since I'd joined he'd been helping me settle in.
I liked him and right now I needed a friend more than ever.
A few months earlier, just after my 11th birthday my dad had died from cancer.
It hit Mum the hardest.
She did her best to look after me but nothing could make up for Dad not being there.
Feeling lost, I'd turned to the youth club and Craig instead.
One day, he came over to me and asked if I wanted to go back to his house for dinner.
"Ok," I agreed.
He cooked me a lovely meal and let me pour my heart out about my Dad's death.
"I'm here when you need me," he said, as he dropped me home that evening.
I felt so grateful.
As time passed, I found myself at Craig's house more often and sometimes stayed over.
He was 25 and I didn't want Mum to worry, so I told her I was at a friend's for a sleepover.
I'd stay in the spare room and in the morning Craig would drive me to school.
I didn't tell my mum I was staying at Craig's. Photo credit: Cavendish Press
He cooked me meals, made my school lunches and even washed my clothes so I had a fresh uniform.
For six months he was like a big brother to me.
But then one evening he turned to me with a serious look on his face and said: "Have you ever thought about having sex?"
My cheeks flushed red.
I'd just turned 12, and I'd never so much as kissed a boy before.
"No, never," I mumbled.
"I've been thinking," he said. "Somebody you trust should take your virginity."
He reached for my hand.
"You trust me, don't you Rachel?" he said.
I felt sick.
Does he want to have sex with me? I thought.
He said no more but that night in his spare room I barely slept a wink.
Then my phone buzzed.
It was a text message from Craig: 'After everything I've done for you, you owe me your virginity.'
I wondered if he was right.
The next day, he acted like nothing had happened so I hoped we could forget about it.
But soon after, I was stepping out of the shower at his house when he appeared in the doorway.
I jumped in shock and reached for a towel.
Me with Craig. He was a master manipulator.
Photo credit: Cavendish Press
He stared at me and said, "Your body is ready for sex."
I froze in fear as he forced himself on me.
"This is our little secret," he said afterwards. "No one can ever find out, or you'll lose me forever."
"I promise," I replied.
For weeks, he pestered me for sex and started calling me his girlfriend.
Then one day, I sat down for dinner and had to rush to the loo to be sick.
"Maybe you're pregnant," Craig said.
Panic shot through me. I was about to turn 13.
There was no way I could look after a baby.
Later that day, Craig bought a pregnancy test and made me take it.
It was positive.
"We can be a proper family," he said, scooping me up in his arms.
I felt horrified.
A few weeks later, however, I suffered a miscarriage.
Afterwards, Craig's behaviour started to change.
He began to text or call me constantly.
If I didn't reply, he'd turn up at school or at home.
Mum got suspicious but I told her we were just friends.
He bought me a new phone with a tracking device.
Then he installed cameras all over his house – including in the bedroom.
"This way, I'll always know where you are," he said.
He went through my clothes throwing out any tops and skirts he didn't approve of.
I couldn't believe I had fallen pregnant.
By the time I was 16, he controlled every part of my life. But whenever I tried to leave him, he threatened to kill himself.
I felt like his prisoner.
Then one day I met a nice boy called James.
We became friends and I told him about Craig.
"You need to go to the police," he said, but I was too scared.
On another day, I was at James's house when Craig turned up hammering on the door.
Finally, he left.
And then he seemingly vanished.
He stopped pestering me and I heard he'd moved away.
I decided to go round to his house to check.
His car was gone and the place was eerily quiet.
I let myself in and went up to his room to collect my things.
I was stuffing clothes into a bag when I noticed the bed looked odd.
I pulled back the doona and found Craig curled up in a ball, surrounded by pills.
He's overdosed! I thought, panicking.
I called emergency services but as I was talking to the operator Craig suddenly leapt up.
He was clutching a knife in his hand and he lunged towards me, pinning me to the wall.
"Put the phone down," he growled.
I want others to know what to look out for.
Photo credit: Cavendish Press
I let it slip from my hand but it was still connected.
Just then, we heard sirens and Craig released me and ran for the door.
The police arrived and at first I told them he was my boyfriend. But then I broke down and the truth came out.
Craig was arrested but released on bail.
He vandalised James's car and turned up at his house with petrol and matches.
Luckily he was caught.
In time, Craig Knight, 31, appeared in court charged with 21 offences, including rape of a child under 13, sexual activity with a child, and intimidation of a witness.
He was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
He was also put on the sex offenders register for life.
Finally, he's out of my life for good.
He ruined my teenage years.
I'm telling my story because I want to raise awareness about how grooming works.
I was vulnerable and I thought Craig loved me, but it was a disguise.
Underneath he was, and is, a monster.
Rachel has waived her right to anonymity but has asked for her name and James's to be changed.
If you, or someone you know, would like to have a free, confidential chat with someone they can trust, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website www.lifeline.org.au.
If you or anyone you know is affected by this post please contact Reach Out Australia.

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