A VICTIM of childhood sexual abuse has waived her right to anonymity to tell of her ordeal – and publicise a fundraising event for a group of online paedophile hunters.
The benefit evening is being held at a North-East social club later this month, and will feature entertainment, a disco, a raffle and tombola.
It has been organised by Amy Giles and her mother Joyce, of South Stanley, County Durham.
Amy, now 23, suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle, Mark Wright, who was jailed in March 2013 for seven years and has since been released on licence.
Mark Wright was jailed
At the time, the court was told Wright, now 28, who then lived at Beech Grove, Burnhope, County Durham, did not have an adult’s understanding of the offences as he was a juvenile himself when they were committed.
Amy is still suffering as a result of the abuse, which spanned seven years, and contacted Guardians of the North via Facebook to see what help they could offer her.
She told The Northern Echo: “I am learning to live with it and have just started having counselling, but I will never be over what happened to me.
“What he has given me is a life sentence.”
Guardians of the North use fake profiles as bait, and wait until they are contacted by someone, usually men. Almost inevitably the conversation becomes sexual.
A meeting is arranged, but instead of meeting an underage girl, the would-be child abuser is greeted by a 46-year-old Sunderland man and other members of the group.
Meetings are filmed so as well as legal action, they also face the humiliation of having the moment they realise the game is up exposed on social media.
The group’s founding member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he himself had experienced sexual abuse and that has motivated him to stop people trying to groom children over the internet.
He said details of 24 men have been passed to police forces around the country, with several in the North-East, since the group was formed in April.
On the surface, police appear reluctant to officially support the unorthodox methods of such organisations, but allegations are taken seriously and have resulted in prosecutions.
Another North-East organisation, Dark Justice, which uses similar tactics, has seen several men jailed for the crime of grooming fictional children.
Guardians of the North is run by volunteers and as the founder is unemployed. He said charity nights like the one at Craghead Social Club, near Stanley on September 16, would help them continue their work.
He said: “Some of the things we see online, and the pictures and videos we receive is unreal.
“It is hard to understand what goes through the minds of these people, who think they can go on the internet and do things to young children and get away with it. It is beyond belief.
“I did not realise how bad it was until I started doing this.
“What we do is about the prevention of real crimes happening to young children.
“We want to continue so we can get the message across the parents and children.”
Amy said she believes their work is important and needs to continue.
She added: “Whenever I want to talk, or needed someone, they are there. If I need to get out they come and see me. These are the only people who have supported me.
“I want to raise as much as we can.”