Publication Date: 22nd March 2018
With the recent prevalence in the news of sex trafficking and grooming of underage girls for sex, I felt it was important that I read Zoe’s story to maybe help me understand how on earth this kind of thing can happen and yet still go unchallenged by the authorities.
Right from the first chapter, this book pulled no punches, and rightly so. It can often be difficult to be confronted by the bare facts of abuse cases such as Zoe’s. She unflinchingly takes us right back to being 4 years old and the sheer tirade of abuse, both physical and mental that she suffered at the hands of her mother. The person who is supposed to love you unconditionally and do everything in their power to keep you safe.
What do you do when this person becomes your tormentor, your abuser and your every waking nightmare? Zoe does not shy away from the details of the abuse. Forced to sit for hours on end in the middle of her bedroom floor, alone and with no entertainment. Forbidden to even move or touch any of her toys. Being purposefully denied access to a potty or toilet in order that she soil herself and be punished for it. The agonising wait for the next brutal, unprovoked physical attack, where her mother would fly into rages and beat her head against the floor. The helplessness and loneliness when her own father and brothers refused to defend her or intervene.
Why did her mother love her brothers and not her? What had she done wrong to deserve such vile treatment.
We then hear about Zoe’s life within the care system after life at home became just to unbearable and at the age of 13 she was taken into a local care home for vulnerable children. Zoe, hoping to be free of her nightmare life at home unwittingly entered a whole new world of abuse and pain.
Sold and trafficked to men in the surrounding area for sex against her will, Zoe found herself even more alone and lost. Let down dramatically by the adults in the care system who were there to support and look after her and also shockingly the police who ultimately let what was happening to her go unchallenged. I really was stunned at the multitude of missed opportunities that the adults in the care system had to help Zoe and rescue her from such a terrible life. She reached out so many times, even leaving notes in her room at the home detailing the car reg or the address of the man she had been taken to just incase she didn’t return. How awful is that? Incomprehensible.
Through pain, torment, abuse, loneliness, alcoholism and self harm we follow Zoe’s story up to her early twenties where she ultimately fights back and takes control of her own life and her future.
This book is heartbreaking stuff and I read it with a building knot of anxiety in my stomach and a sense of utter disbelief that these kinds of horrific events could happen to a young girl and not be dealt with. That people were not held accountable for their mistakes in Zoe’s care and brought to justice.
Not an easy read by any means but a very important and compelling one and I’m glad Zoe was given a voice to tell her horrific story.
Gritty and raw but concluding with such an empowering and positive message, Zoe’s story most definitely needs to be heard.
Thank you to Rosie Margesson and HarperCollins for the advanced proof copy.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat. Xx