By Lucy Waterlow
For five years from the age of 11, Sarah Wilson was groomed and raped by Rotherham paedophiles who showered with gifts and made her feel special in what was to become one of the biggest abuse scandals in the UK.
The now 23-year-old admits she became so 'brainwashed' by the older British Pakistani men in the South Yorkshire town she considered it normal for them to expect to have sex with her in return for all they had given her.
Writing an emotional account of her harrowing experience in new book Violated, Sarah, whose sister Laura was murdered, reveals she was plied with alcohol and cannabis by sexual predators.
They habitually abused her until she was 16, when they lost interest because she was no longer underage.
And Sarah, who is now a mother, was not alone. A report revealed that, since the 1990s, up to 1,400 young girls in the Yorkshire town had been regularly abused by sex gangs, predominantly composed of Asian men.
A National Crime Agency investigation, which could run until 2018, last month announced that it had so far identified 300 suspects
The suspects are ‘predominantly’ Asian men from the South Yorkshire town and include two who have worked for the council. Their victims are mainly white, British, underage and ‘vulnerable’ girls.
Sarah, who has waived her right to anonymity, said had no idea she was a victim of grooming.
She was raped by a 30-year-old man in a school playground at night when she was just 11, leaving her feeling ashamed and disgusted.
And it was just after her 12th birthday that Sarah got into a car with a fat 35-year-old British Pakistani man who took her virginity.
She explains: 'From the age of 11, I was showered with gifts from men in their twenties and thirties who pretended they were my friends.
'They told me I was beautiful and bought me anything I wanted: phones, clothes, takeaway food, cigarettes and, of course, alcohol and drugs. Some even claimed that they loved me.
'By the time they took me to strange towns to have sex with them and all their mates, aged 12, I was so brainwashed I thought it was normal.'
Such was the scale of the grooming in the South Yorkshire town at the time, Sarah said 'lots of girls were being groomed like I was. To us, grooming was normal.'
Describing the horrific sexual abuse she was subjected to, Sarah said: 'Some nights, I was driven hundreds of miles away and ordered to have sex with as many as seven men in a row.'
She said refusing wasn't an option.
'How could I say no? I didn't want to be stranded with no money to get home and they'd got me hooked on the alcohol and drugs they knew I couldn't afford myself.
'Plus, they'd threatened to petrol bomb my family home if I didn't do as they said,' she said.
She revealed: 'My mum reported me missing countless times but the police barely batted an eyelid.
'The reason? In their opinion, we'd agreed to this. We kept going back to these men, so surely they couldn't be raping us.
Girls like me - and our families - were crying out for help, but no one listened. Politicians were worried that addressing the issue of grooming by British Pakistani men would "give oxygen" to racism
'As for my social workers, they put me in a children's home, where my abusers collected me in taxis every single day. When they brought me back in the early hours of the morning, the staff even paid the fare.
'Girls like me - and our families - were crying out for help, but no one listened. Politicians were worried that addressing the issue of grooming by British Pakistani men would "give oxygen" to racism.'
Sarah recalls: 'When I was 17, I eventually escaped my abusers, with the help of my mum and a friend from the British Pakistani community who intervened. By then, I was too old for the men who'd groomed me.'
Justice started to be served in November 2010 when five men were jailed for a string of sexually related offences against girls in 2010. This was later revealed to be just the tip of the iceberg.
An investigation by The Times found thousands of girls had been victims of sexual predators.
This led to further investigations and by February 2015, South Yorkshire Police said up to 29 people had been charged with child sexual exploitation offences in Rotherham.
Now free of the men who abused her, Sarah is slowly trying to move on with her life.
She said: 'The scars of years of abuse don't heal overnight.
'I'm 23 now and I still feel anxious going into town alone. I rarely use taxis, as so many of the men who raped me were taxi drivers.
'I've struggled to do the things many young women take for granted, like going to college and getting a full-time job.
'If I didn't have such a supportive family, I worry I'd have turned to drugs or crime - or that I'd be dead.'
Last week it emerged that the massive inquiry into the Rotherham sex abuse scandal could run until at least 2018 and has so far identified 300 suspects.
Investigators say the number of possible offenders is changing on a ‘daily basis’ and they suspect ‘thousands of offences’ have been committed.
The team has seized 92 boxes containing several thousand files and identified more than 3,300 lines of inquiry. The suspects are ‘predominantly’ Asian men from the South Yorkshire town and include two who have worked for the council. Their victims are mainly white, British, underage and ‘vulnerable’ girls.
Operation Stovewood is currently costing up to £5million every year, and is still likely to be ongoing in three years’ time – putting the total bill for the inquiry at around £15million.
So far the inquiry has backed an original estimate that 1,400 girls were abused in Rotherham during a 16-year period from 1997 to 2013.
She continues to lives in Rotherham, where she is helping to bring up her niece, Alesha, following her sister's death, and has recently become a mother herself.
She said becoming a parent has made her even more passionate about preventing child abuse which is why she has shared her story in a new book, Violated, published by Harper Element.
Sarah said: 'I've realised I don't have to be a victim forever. I'm also a survivor, and I can make a difference.
'Alongside other victims, I'm doing something about grooming. I'm working with the police and children's charities to help professionals recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation.
'I want to help them see that no child can consent to having a sexual relationship with a grown man and to understand that it doesn't matter what colour someone's skin is if he's drugging and abusing a vulnerable teenage girl.
'I'm taking a stand against grooming because I don't want my children to be targeted like I was.
'We've all got to act, or another generation of girls will be lost. My abusers stole my youth, but I won't let them steal my future.'
Sarah's mother, Maggie, agrees. Describing how difficult the period was for her, she said: 'For six long years I watched helplessly as my beloved daughter was manipulated and controlled by merciless paedophiles.'
She said her 'once quiet and caring daughter' suddenly started staying out late, drinking and smoking at the age of 11 and she later discovered a group of older men were to blame.
'When Sarah went missing for the first time, I was frantic and I called the police. She was barely a mile from home, but they told me they couldn't find her,' Maggie recalls.
'A short while later, I found her on a street corner with two Asian men old enough to be her dad.
'They laughed in my face when I told them to stay away from my daughter as she'd just turned 12.'
Maggie said she did 'everything I could' to keep Sarah away from these men but she was so scared of them, she would come running every time they called.
'Every time it rang she had to do as they said, or face the consequences. They even threatened to petrol bomb our family home if she refused to come out,' Maggie said.
'I tried locking all of the doors but she'd climb out of the bathroom window and scale down the drainpipe to the taxi which would carry her off into the night.'
Maggie said when she called the police, they were disinterested and unhelpful.
A probe into how police handled child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is currently looking into allegations against officers after complaints were sent to the force watchdog.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is also examining allegations against ten officers involved in the investigation into one of the country's most prolific child abuse rings.
Describing her experience with the force, Maggie said: 'Sometimes, Sarah would be gone for days.
'Every time, I phoned the police, sick with worry and scared this would be the time she wouldn't come home at all.
'The sigh was always audible on the other end of the phone. The officers usually told me to give them a call when Sarah returned, rarely even pretending that they were looking for her.
'Once, when she'd been missing for several days, I went to the local paper in desperation and asked them to circulate a photo.
'I tried everything to get the police to listen. One day, I scrolled through the contacts book of Sarah's phone and found the numbers of 177 British Pakistani men.
'I copied them all down and gave them to the police but they told me they couldn't do anything in case it breached the Data Protection Act.
'Eventually, Sarah was taken into care to protect the rest of the family.
'High on the cocaine these men plied her with, she'd threatened me with a knife when I’d tried to stop her going out.
'Our social workers placed her in a children's home, which was a known target for these predatory gangs who combed Rotherham looking for vulnerable girls to drug and abuse.
'They hadn't made it harder for these depraved men to reach Sarah, they'd made it much easier.'
Maggie was eventually able to help her daughter when she turned 17 and the men lost interest in her over younger girls.
GIRL, 17, MURDERED FOR 'BRINGING SHAME' ON PAKISTANI MEN WHO USED HER FOR SEX AFTER SHE BECAME 'ALMOST INVISIBLE' TO SOCIAL WORKERS
Sarah Wilson's sister Laura, from Rotherham, was 17 when she was stabbed and dumped in a canal by her Asian boyfriend in the UK's first white honour killing.
Ashtiaq Ashgar murdered Laura in 2010 after she told his family about their secret relationship.
The teenager was left to die in a canal, after being stabbed more than 40 times, mostly to the head.
After Laura's death, it was revealed that social workers had known for six years that the white teenage mother was at clear risk from predatory Asian gangs.
Laura began her relationship with Ashgar in 2008, when she was 15 and he was 16.
Ashgar came from a traditional Muslim family who were planning an arranged marriage for their son with a girl from Pakistan.
But unbeknown to his family, he lived a double life where he drank, smoked cannabis, carried weapons and had numerous relationship with women, including Laura.
When Laura found out that he has been seeing other girls, they broke up and she slept with this married friend, 22-year-old Ishaq 'Zac' Hussein, to make him jealous.
Just 16 at the time, Laura fell pregnant and had a daughter, Alesha. Hussein refused to acknowledge he was the father.
After Alesha was born, Laura and Ashgar rekindled their relationship. But he insisted it must be a secret.
Laura soon became sick of being Ashgar's secret and on October 6, 2010, she and her sister Sarah made the fatal mistake of revealing all to his family.
Laura and Sarah also visited Zac's family to reveal how he is the father of her baby.
After that, Ashgar sent Zac a text message saying: 'I'm gonna send that b***** to Hell.'
He also said he wanted to make 'beans on toast' of her, which is a phrase that means to spill blood.
Ashgar then asked Laura to meet him at the canal one evening where he murdered her.
Both Ashgar and Hussein were charged with murder. Ashgar pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence. He will be eligible for parole in 2029 when he is 34.
Hussein was acquitted of murder following a retrial.