British actress Samantha Morton has opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child in foster care following the headline-grabbing Rotherham scandal which rocked the U.K. last month.
A report by local officials concluded that around 1,400 children were abused in the English town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, and the "Minority Report" star admits the news brought back painful memories of her own past and left her unable to sleep.
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Morton, who spent most of her childhood living in institutions in Nottingham, England, tells Britain's The Guardian newspaper, "I was doing OK and then suddenly the Rotherham thing comes up."
The actress goes on to allege she was subjected to abuse by two different perpetrators during her time in care, but was too embarrassed to report her plight straight away.
She explains, "I was embarrassed and the people that did what they did to me... I thought they were really nice people, so I was actually really shocked when it happened. And, ultimately, nobody would have believed me, because they're the coolest, nicest people... It's a shock when someone does things to you... things you're not expecting. It isn't that people suddenly become the bogeymen. Abuse of children is gradual - this is why we now understand the term grooming.... I didn't go to anybody immediately because - how weird is this? - I didn't want to get them into trouble. I didn't want them to lose their jobs."
However, Morton claims her story was ignored when she eventually brought it to the attention of social workers, adding, "They had clipboards and were always moving on to the next question. There was no support, no offer of counseling, no wanting to delve deeper... Maybe they just assumed I had been abused already (before I was in the home)... I'd say 90 per cent of my friends in the home had been sexually abused."
Her mother later reported the alleged abuse to police and Morton was placed in a different care home, but no further action was taken against those she accused.
Morton goes on to insist she blames social services workers for failing her, adding, "They had a duty of care - not only a social duty of care, but a legal obligation to take care of me, and they didn't. They failed miserably. But I survived. I'm here to tell the tale. I don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Steve Edwards, Nottinghamshire county council's service director for children's social care, says of Morton's claims, "We take all allegations of child abuse, current or historic, extremely seriously. We will fully support any police investigation and would encourage the person in question to contact us directly to discuss her concerns."
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