Chrissy – Aged 15

Chrissy has Asperger’s and low-level learning difficulties. At 13, she was seriously sexually abused by a child of the same age from her youth club.

She withdrew completely from school and her parents began home educating her. This led to greater feelings of isolation for her and made it even harder for her to build positive relationships with her peers. Specialist workers from Barnardo’s did several sessions with her about keeping herself safe. She can quote back what she was taught, but because of her additional needs, she cannot relate this to different situations as she encounters them.

Chrissy really wants people to like her. If peers suggest she does a certain thing or acts in a certain way, she will see this as a way of being liked and will not recognise that, often, they are making fun of her or getting her into trouble.

She recently agreed to have sex with a young man because he was kind to her.

Chrissy and her mentor spend a lot of time practising how to “be herself” and “be safe” in a variety of situations and with all sorts of other people. The mentor tries to get her to imagine she has a bubble around herself which she must not let others burst.

She recently returned to a specialist education provision and was instantly labelled as a trouble- maker by staff because she kissed a boy on her first day (she had been dared to do this by another girl). To help the staff to better support her, the mentor attended a meeting at the school and explained some of the struggles that Chrissy faces.

She has become much calmer and closer to mum since the mentor became involved.

Chrissy calls her time with her mentor “rehearsal time” – she enjoys rehearsing how to act and what to say to keep herself safe. She also says that she uses her mentor to help her find ways of explaining how she feels about things to her Mum.

“I tell my mentor first and she tells me how to tell it, so it doesn’t upset Mum.”