Grooming gangs rape victim reveals how she was trafficked and abused by dozens of men

·4-min read
Lauren Elysia Priddey, left, gave evidence against cousins Shahmeel Khan, top right, and Mohammed Ali Sultan, bottom right. (Reach)
Lauren Elysia Priddey, left, gave evidence against cousins Shahmeel Khan, top right, and Mohammed Ali Sultan, bottom right. (Reach)

A victim of grooming gangs in Telford and Birmingham has revealed how she was trafficked across England and abused by dozens of men when she was 18.

Lauren Elysia Priddey has waived her right to anonymity and says she wants to offer hope to other victims of sexual abuse.

She was an A-level student when she was raped by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.

She later gave evidence in court against both men. Khan was jailed for 10 years in 2011 while Sultan was sentenced to eight years in prison last December – he was already serving a six-year sentence. Sultan was convicted and jailed following Operation Chalice, West Mercia Police’s investigation into child grooming.

A brave victim of the Telford and Birmingham grooming gangs has gone public to help other survivors and said: "I don't want to keep what happened to me a secret any more."  Lauren Elysia Priddey was an 18-year-old A Level student when she was raped and terrorised by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.  Caption: Grooming gang victim Lauren Priddey pictured in September 2020
Lauren Elysia Priddey has waived her right to anonymity in an effort to help others who have suffered sexual abuse. (Reach)

Priddey, now 31, described how she was trafficked and abused by dozens of other men across the West Midlands, none of whom were brought to justice.

Read more: Telford authorities 'still failing to tackle child abuse'

“I was 18 the first time I was raped,” she said. “I was 18 when I was serially gang-raped. I was 18 when I was trafficked all over England and given to many men, sometimes as many as ten in one night.”

She was raped by Khan in summer 2007 after he barged into her flat in Telford, Shropshire, days before she was due to sit her A-levels.

A brave victim of the Telford and Birmingham grooming gangs has gone public to help other survivors and said: "I don't want to keep what happened to me a secret any more."  Lauren Elysia Priddey was an 18-year-old A Level student when she was raped and terrorised by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.  Caption: Grooming gang victim Lauren Priddey, pictured aged 18
Lauren Elysia Priddey was raped when she was 18. (Reach)

Two days later, his cousin Sultan, who was later exposed as a grooming gang ringleader, also forced his way into the flat and raped her.

"Being raped even once was devastating,” said Priddey. “It took a huge toll on my mental health.

"When Sultan came round two days after the rape I was still in shock, still traumatised. I had no fight left in me.

“He used to say he would make my life hell and said I didn’t want to play games with him.

"He would say he would kick my door in and when I said: ‘You won’t because of the locks’, he said: ‘I will kick your head in then’.”

Following the attacks, she fell into a cycle of drugs and abuse involving other Asian men in Telford, Birmingham and other parts of the UK.

A brave victim of the Telford and Birmingham grooming gangs has gone public to help other survivors and said: "I don't want to keep what happened to me a secret any more."  Lauren Elysia Priddey was an 18-year-old A Level student when she was raped and terrorised by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.  Caption: Shahmeel Khan
Shahmeel Khan raped Lauren Elysia Priddey in her flat in Telford, Shropshire, in 2007. (Reach)
A brave victim of the Telford and Birmingham grooming gangs has gone public to help other survivors and said: "I don't want to keep what happened to me a secret any more."  Lauren Elysia Priddey was an 18-year-old A Level student when she was raped and terrorised by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.  Caption: Mohammed Ali Sultan
Mohammed Ali Sultan was a ringleader in the Telford child grooming gang. (Reach)

“They degraded me to the point where I’d become this sex thing, this thing that wasn’t human, but just an object,” she said. “To the point where I believed that’s what I was.”

Priddey was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the repeated abuse.

But she went on to train as a mental health nurse and now has a successful career working in London.

Her story was published in the 2018 book, No Way Out, written under the pseudonym Kate Elysia.

Priddey said she decided to waive her lifelong right to anonymity after watching recent BBC drama, I May Destroy You, created by and starring Michaela Cole, about a young woman who tries to rebuild her life after being raped.

Read more: ‘Nearly 19,000 children’ sexually groomed in England in past year

"I think lots of people may judge me, but the way society views women and victims is wrong,” said Priddey.

"This is happening to 12, 13 year-old girls and they have a right to be informed.”

A brave victim of the Telford and Birmingham grooming gangs has gone public to help other survivors and said: "I don't want to keep what happened to me a secret any more."  Lauren Elysia Priddey was an 18-year-old A Level student when she was raped and terrorised by cousins Mohammed Ali Sultan and Shahmeel Khan in separate attacks days apart.  Caption: Grooming gang victim Lauren Priddey pictured in September 2020
Lauren Elysia Priddey now plans to help other victims of sexual abuse. (Reach)

Priddey is trying to raise money to allow her to run free one-to-one mentoring sessions with male and female grooming gang abuse victims, and has set up a crowdfunding page.

She said: ”For a long time I've been keeping my past separate from my friends, from my workplace - trying to pretend to be somebody I'm not.

"It's like society wants me to feel undervalued or oppressed because I'm a victim.

"But I want to feel good about myself and say 'Yes, this is me - look at my achievements.'"

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