Girl who has experienced exploitation online sits beside Barnardo's worker, smiling

Support after sexual exploitation: How Barnardo’s helped Lisa

After 10-year-old Lisa* was coerced into sharing indecent images and videos of herself with strangers online, one of our services supported her and her family.  

Lisa, from Scotland, was targeted through an online webcam generator site. This platform is a free chat website that allows users to socialise with others without the need to register. The site randomly pairs users in one-on-one sessions where they talk anonymously. 

The abuse then moved to two social media platforms which lasted for four months before Lisa’s mother, Angela*, discovered the abuse on Lisa’s iPad and mobile phone. 

I was embarrassed and felt very guilty about the conversations I had been in. And I felt trapped and was scared I would get in trouble.


How we support children and their families after sexual exploitation

Lisa met with a Barnardo's support worker weekly. During their sessions, they covered different topics to help relieve her anxiety around being online or becoming a target for abuse again.  

A child who experienced sexual exploitation sits with a Barnardo's support worker

The work was planned so that it was age-appropriate and mindful of Lisa’s experience of abuse.

During this time, Angela was also supported by Barnardo’s as she had struggled with accepting what had happened to her daughter. The Barnardo’s support worker explained how grooming can occur and how Lisa became a victim of child sexual abuse. 

"Lisa belongs to a loving and supportive family, and we believed that we practiced good online safety measures for our children by setting parental controls, limiting time on devices as per their age and regularly checking devices," said Angela.

With help from Barnardo’s, I addressed feelings of both guilt and frustration, and I was eventually able to understand the experience of my daughter as the victim she had become.


"I am very grateful for the support provided by Barnardo’s to both Lisa and myself, and I feel that we have now been able to move forward," continued Angela.

Lisa's support worker consulted with her class teacher who was about to begin lessons in sexual education and relationships, to make sure it would not be triggering for Lisa, but also covered appropriate topics. 

When the support had come to an end, Lisa was able to understand and accept none of the abuse she experienced was her fault.  

* Names have been changed and models used to protect the identities of children we help. 

A boy sits by a window looking upset

Child sexual abuse and exploitation

Learn more about child sexual abuse (CSA) and child sexual exploitation (CSE) from our experts who work in this area.

A boy who has been exploited sits with a Barnardo's support worker

No child should be left to cope alone after being exploited

Sexual and criminal exploitation can have a life-changing impact on a child, leaving them traumatised and feeling alone if they don’t get the support they need to recover. We’re asking the Government to support all children who’ve been exploited in England and Wales. 

A girl with her hair in braids looks at the camera

Help us support children after exploitation

Our projects are proof that if a child gets the right support at the right time, they can go on to thrive. Your gift today can help children get the specialist support they need, so they can look forward to a safer, happier future.