A VICTIM groomed by sex predators as a teenager has bravely stepped forward to tell her story to The Oldham Times in a bid to prevent other teenager girls in care falling into the same trap.

Now aged 27, Joanna McLaughlin, spoke of her harrowing experience as Greater Manchester Police's Crime Review Team led by Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey alongside child safeguarding expert Dr Henri Geller was launched.

Mercifully, Joanna has now rebuilt her relationship with her mother and has turned her life around. But she wants to tell of her experiences to prevent other young girls making the same mistakes she made.

This is what she said:

"I was an angry child when I was growing up. I had issues with behaviour and suffered from dyspraxia (a physical condition affecting co-ordination) and I had learning difficulties.

"When I was 11 I took an overdose and as a result I ended up in care. But it wasn't appropriate because I was with other more normal children.

"I ran away a lot when I was in care, because I wanted to be around men.

"I didn't understand that men were grooming me and taking advantage and using me. I don't want this to happen to other young girls because it's not fair.

"I married an Asian man when I was 16 and he was 26. We lived in Manchester. But he used to control me and used me. We were married for two years until I went back to live with my mum in Hathershaw and we got divorced.

"I was a resident at Burnley Lane children's home in Chadderton between the aged of 14 and 16. I had my first sexual experience when I was 14 as a result of accessing a dating website with a white man. I lied about my age. I said I was 25.

"That's something else they need to do. They need to stop these kids getting access to these sites on the internet.

"I was having sex with Asian men when I was 15. I didn't enjoy it. Now, I find it difficult to trust guys. I've been out on a few dates, but they haven't worked out. Maybe it's something for the future. I'm on medication for anxiety.

"My message to other girls in this kind of situation is - don't do it. If you are in that sort of danger, call for help. We need to put a stop to it.

"Young men are trying to get girls into cars near schools. If a man tries to do that, they should say no and run away.

"I just wanted to be loved. I think all young people want to be loved. But looking back on it now, I realise it wasn't love. They were just taking advantage of me.

"No-one has ever questioned me from the police or anyone in authority. They would just bring me back to the home.

"The best was to deal with this problem is by talking to the children and supporting them, instead of telling them the can't go out and shouting at them."

Joanna says she has asked for counselling via her GP, but this has been refused. The Oldham Times is putting her in touch with an appropriate counselling service.