Sammy Woodhouse, 31, tells Closer about the appalling abuse she suffered at just 14 years old - and why it's so important to speak out...
Twisted Arshid Hussain was jailed for 35 years in 2016 for grooming and sexually abusing multiple underage girls in Rotherham - an area that, like Rochdale, suffered its own child exploitation scandal.
Sammy Woodhouse, now 31, was one of his victims and has bravely waived her anonymity to speak about the abuse she suffered.
Now working as a public speaker and campaigner, the mum-of-two says: “I’m so glad the BBC will be covering the Rochdale scandal in Three Girls. It’s crucial to raise awareness and encourage victims to speak out."
BBC's new drama Three Girls tells the story of grooming in Rochdale (Credit: BBC)
Talking about how her ordeal began, Sammy told Closer: “I first met Arshid when I was 14 at our local corner shop. He was 24, but my friend knew him, so when he offered to take us for a drive in his flash car, I was impressed. He started me taking out for drives regularly and I began to fall for him. He’d shower me with gifts such as phones and clothes, he was like a walking cash machine.
"I started skipping school to hang around with Arshid, and a month later we had sex. I felt so grown up with him.
“Soon, I started spending time with him at his house or hotels. I’d go missing for days and my family were worried. I came from a close-knit, respectable family, so they knew something was wrong. They went to the police, but because I was consenting, they said there was nothing they could do.
“My parents didn’t know how to cope and a few months later I was put into care. They thought it would give me stricter boundaries.
“Instead, I carried on seeing Arshid. He was my boyfriend and I thought he was my Prince Charming. But soon he became violent. He’d beat me if we had a disagreement or tried to leave. I was terrified, but forgave him because he said he loved me.
Sammy fell pregnant with her son at 15 (Credit: BBC)
“I fell pregnant at 15 and naively thought we’d all live happily ever after. But during my pregnancy the beatings got worse. I tried to break up with him when I heard he was seeing other girls, but he drove me to the edge of a cliff and threatened to throw me off. I was terrified.
“Thankfully, while I was pregnant, Arshid was jailed for a violent attack. It was then I decided to reach out to my parents. I moved back home and started rebuilding my life. But when Arshid was released a few months later, he started terrorising my family. The police couldn’t do anything as they had no proof it was him.
“As I grew up I began to realise what Arshid had done to me was wrong. My sister encouraged me to go to the police, but they said there was no evidence to support my claims.So I went to the media and suddenly more cases were uncovered.
Arshid and his brothers are now in jail (Credit: South Yorkshire Police)
"The police investigated the case and Arshid, along with his brothers Basharat and Bannaras, were convicted of abuse after 21 girls testified against them in court. It was a relief to know he was behind bars.
“I’m now trying to put the past behind me, and I’ve since had another child. But I'm single again as I want to focus on my recovery. I give talks to the police and social workers about grooming as it's important to speak out and raise awareness."