As an online counsellor, I’m humbled by how young people who are victims of childhood exploitation find the resolve to reach out for help and explore their experiences.

Offering an anonymous space for them to do this means more victims can be heard.

Often with childhood exploitation there is so much chaos and uncertainty that getting help can be all too much. They may not even be ready for help. At Kooth we can provide a safe space, where they can explore what’s going on while feeling fully supported and with further help at hand if they feel they need it.

As counsellors, we’re privileged to have the opportunity to hold our vulnerable young people at whatever stage they are at while they find the courage to connect with the difficult and confusing experiences they’re going through.

Childhood exploitation is complex; each person has such an individual experience. And they choose to come to us at different stages: some ready for further help; some ready to disclose their details; some ready to talk about the experience with an awareness that they may be victims; others with help on the ground but finding it overwhelming and difficult.

Often young people are frozen by fear of judgement or fear of being misunderstood. Others are not yet fully aware of the risk they may be in, but may be at the beginning of a journey of realisation.

I feel that anonymity is crucial for these young people. They need a place where they can present to us what they want and what they need at their own pace. It gives them a degree on control they may not experience in the rest of their world.

Counsellors know they need to hold the risk, hold their pain and their confusion while being aware of the young person’s underlying safety and security.  At the very beginning of their time at with us we uphold their right to autonomy and choice.

We know young people may not come for help willingly. We know they may not look like victims. Childhood exploitation often brings chaos and anger and risky behaviour and a rejection of help. This is why we must continue to raise awareness. To dispel the myths.

I see an aspect of my role as sowing a seed that a young person has a choice and options. When they are ready this seed grows, maybe not today or tomorrow, but we trust it will happen.

In the meantime, we and our experienced clinical team constantly safeguard, monitor and support and try to meet them where they are in their experience. We let them choose, in a world where their choices may be limited or so constructed that it can be hard for others to fathom.

The victims of childhood exploitation deserve a space where they can be seen and heard. where they can learn to have control, where they can discover or regain autonomy. This is the small a gift that we can give at Kooth, but an incredibly vital and important one.

Kooth Online Counsellor