The children in the pictures and videos of sexual abuse we see every day are real. The suffering captured in this imagery and the knowledge that it could be shared can haunt a victim for life.
We care. No child should suffer repeated abuse and victimisation by having the recordings of their abuse shared time and time again. Our work relies on compassionate and resilient staff members, who are highly trained and carefully looked after. These are the stories of Jess, Amy and Ana. They are the reason why we do our work, each day, every day.
Names have been changed in all stories to protect the victim's identity.
A young girl coerced into recording her own sexual abuse.
Our analyst successfully identified a British schoolgirl called Jess who was then safeguarded after she had been targeted and groomed by offenders.
We received an anonymous report from the public. It led us to a video of a girl we estimated to be 11 to 13 years old. We could see from evidence in the video that she was in the UK and she had been coerced and manipulated over a live stream by an abuser who appeared to be telling her what to do.
We tracked the video to an online forum where we found other offenders discussing the recording. The conversations included how they wanted to trace the girl so that they could have her ‘perform’ the sexual acts live for them.
We gathered enough information to help us identify the girl and we passed it to our partners at the National Crime Agency.
We arranged for the criminal material to be quickly removed from the internet, and the police and social services safeguarded the child and are supporting her and her family.
Every day we find videos showing children like Jess being groomed and manipulated into sexual acts which are recorded by an offender on the other side of a webcam and then shared online.
See our campaign to stop help child abuse like Jess'.
Horrific abuse of a three-year-old girl
We became aware of an horrific recording of a little girl called Amy in 2020. She was suffering category A child sexual abuse – the definition of which amounts to penetrative sexual activity, and/or activities involving animals or sadism. She was just three.
Unfortunately, the video, along with still images from that video, was shared widely online by the offender and others.
Our Hotline assessed and hashed (created a digital fingerprint) an image of Amy on average three times a day, every day, for three months.
Thankfully, she has been rescued and safeguarded, and her abuser has been arrested and charged. But that video is still being shared online.
Our Hash List service is a critical tool that our Members can use to help disrupt the recordings and still images of Amy’s abuse from being circulated online.
We pieced together Amy’s story over a three-month period by collecting and recording data every time we saw her.
Sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl our analysts saw 96 times in three months.
We see Ana a lot. Every day at least. Sometimes twice a day. She’s been groomed into taking part in sexual activities from a very young age with people who we think are her relatives.
We first see her aged seven. We stop seeing her when she’s 11. Her long, tangled blonde hair, green eyes and small frame being forced into things she shouldn’t know how to do. Most often she is with another little girl and an older boy. We guess they might be her brother and sister, but we don’t know for sure. They’re not playing. Not in the sense that children should be free to play. Sometimes we can see a man as well. Is this her father?
She’s in a home. We see her on an old stained sofa, sitting on threadbare carpets surrounded by peeling wallpaper. Ana has been made to pose provocatively and take part in several sexual activities. She’s also raped. Ana’s treatment is degrading and extremely cruel. Unfortunately, this is reality for the children we see in pictures and recordings in our Hotline.
We wanted to learn more about Ana’s experience: Over three months we saw her 96 times. In two in every five occasions she was being raped or suffered some other kind of sexual torture. Other times she was suffering sexual abuse which didn’t include penetration.
We don’t always know if the children we see are ever rescued from their abuser. This is true of Ana.
We imagine that Ana – who might be in her late teens – has now realised that the horror of what she experienced was not “normal”, was not “an expression of love”, but instead was a ruthless and criminal exploitation of her innocence. It was multiple crimes committed over several years and instigated by those who should have been protecting and nurturing that innocence.
Ana is sadly one of many, many children we see every single day. A victim of grooming – robbed of her right to a carefree and innocent childhood. We can only hope that she now has the support and care she deserves, but the sad truth is we just don’t know. You can hear more victim and survivor experiences in our podcast, Pixels From a Crime Scene.
*We pieced together Ana’s story over a three-month period by collecting and recording data every time we saw her.