Schoolgirl to sex slave: How can it happen? One victim tells all

It’s hard to imagine it could happen in this country, but Sam Browne was just 16 when, seduced by a friend’s party lifestyle, she was groomed and ‘sold’ into a world of slavery. She escaped, but not before losing nine years of her life…


Anna* was the coolest girl I’d ever met. She was pretty with a curvy figure. At 26, she was 10 years older than me and oozed confidence.

We’d met through my schoolmate­s, and she seemed to especially like me. She’d pick me up from my house and send me messages. I was flattered that she’d chosen me.

I couldn’t believe how monied she was, either. I adored my parents, but we’d never been that well off. Anna, on the other hand, owned her own home and car, and she was always splashing the cash on drinks and takeaways.

It was so far from what I was used to…

She showed me how to apply eye make-up like her. ‘That shade’s perfect for you, have it,’ she’d say. She bombarded me with these little kindnesses – and, of course, I was bewitched.

It was like I’d finally found my big sister. I longed for Anna’s sophistica­tion to rub off on me.

With hindsight, I know she was grooming me.

I was smart and got good grades at school, but that wasn’t what she saw in me. It was my innocence she was after.

‘I strip for a living,’ she told me, making her job sound normal and rewarding. ‘It’s easy, and I make lots of money.’

I was studying at college by then, but she made her life seem so glamorous compared to mine.

‘I’ll show you how to have some proper fun,’ she said.

And that’s how it happened. It was gradual. A glass of Champagne at a club, a sniff of coke. ‘Don’t be boring!’ she’d laugh when I hesitated. But, of course, the Champagne and drugs had to be paid for.

‘ You just have to talk dirty to him,’ she told me, the first time she arranged some adult work for me in my underwear.

The reward for allowing a middle-aged married man to say what he wanted to me was £50. And, despite my initial reservatio­ns, I had developed a liking for cocaine…

Without realising it, in a matter of months I’d been sucked into a world of abuse and I was selling my body for money. I’d dropped out of college, given up my part-time job in a shop and rarely saw my family.

If I ever had doubts about what I was doing, I’d look at Anna – £50 for a bit of ‘adult’ work, or £6 an hour to work in a shop? Financiall­y, it was a no-brainer. Soon, I’d moved away from Birmingham to

London and was working as an escort, as well as in the adult sex industry.

I was 21 when Anna introduced me to Stephen McAllister. Middle-aged, balding, with a sneery smirk.

‘He’ll change our lives,’ insisted Anna. She and Stephen were always full of stories of how we would make money – lots of it.

By this point, I was so isolated that I didn’t have anyone else to turn to. I’d become dependent on Stephen for drugs, which meant I always owed him.

I was so blinded and lost, I didn’t know any different. Stephen threatened to hurt my mum and dad if I didn’t comply. He told me he’d murdered his own son, too. I lost count of the times I had my fingers poised over ‘call Mum’ but, instead, I’d switch off my phone, scared and ashamed. For three years, I worked almost every day of the week, answering to Stephen. I must have made him hundreds of thousands of pounds. When other girls appeared on the scene, I told them they could trust Stephen – just like Anna had done to me. That’s probably the worst part of all, that I was now being used as bait for other vulnerable young girls .

Then I got lucky. In February 2013, by chance I made a new friend, an amazing woman. She knew what I did, and, in time, she asked why I handed money over to Stephen.

I’d never had the self-worth to ask myself that, but she made me question everything. Our friendship was normal – the kind that most people take for granted every day.

I hadn’t had a ‘normal’ friendship since before Anna. Everything I understood now was being used and made to use other people.

She encouraged me to escape. ‘Stephen’s a pimp,’ she said. ‘Can’t you see that?’

Looking at my life from her point of view, the spell was broken. I started thinking for myself and was ashamed of what I’d put up with.

I was unbelievab­ly scared and it took all my strength, but I told Stephen I was done.

Just two weeks later, in August 2013, police knocked on my door. They’d arrested Stephen and wanted me to testify against him. I didn’t know if I’d have the strength, but I knew I had to do it – not just for me but for all the other girls he’d hurt.

In May 2016, Stephen McAllister, then 52, appeared in Birmingham Crown Court. I gave evidence from behind a screen. The court heard how he’d plied me and others with drugs and lied about killing his son to scare everyone.

He was found guilty on two counts of controllin­g prostitute­s for gain and two counts of controllin­g sexual exploitati­on of a child. He was jailed for eightand-a-half years and placed on the sex offenders register for life. He’s banned from contacting me indefinite­ly, too.

After years of counsellin­g, I’ve just about come to terms with the fact that I was a victim of modern slavery.

Now, aged 30, I want people to know that men like Stephen prowl everywhere.

I’ve set up a social enterprise, Diamond You Projects, to help vulnerable young people caught up in the sex industry.

I’ve worked with Amnesty Internatio­nal and Women’s Aid, and I speak in schools and youth clubs.

I tell them my story. It’s tough, but I’ve found my voice and I intend to use it. For more informatio­n, l see

‘Bad things happened, but I was so blinded and lost, I didn’t know any different’

 ??  ?? Teenage Sam lost her way, dazzled by a false friend’s promises
Teenage Sam lost her way, dazzled by a false friend’s promises
 ??  ?? Sam today: She speaks out against exploitati­on Manipulato­r Stephen McAllister
Sam today: She speaks out against exploitati­on Manipulato­r Stephen McAllister

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