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'Loverboys' force girls into prostitution

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Dutch girls are falling victim to so-called ‘loverboys’ - men who lure them into a sexual relationship and then force them into prostitution. The scale of the problem was exposed by StopLoverboysNU. Anouk (17) tells how she fell for the wrong man.

“I still can’t believe I'm free of it,” says the Dutch teenager about the time she worked as an escort in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

“I met him [Tarik] outside my school one day. I remember him leaning against his old Ford Escort car and gesturing for me to come over.

“I had never felt attractive and felt like he had all these other girls to choose from and he picked me.

Vulnerable
“We got talking and he asked if I fancied going to McDonald’s. In the back of my mind I knew it was probably wrong, but it felt exciting, so I went.

“I remember his car stank of cigarettes and aftershave, but I felt grown-up I suppose. I was able to make my own decisions.

He used blackmail
“We had sex on our third date. I was a virgin and wasn’t sure what to do, but he was really experienced and said he loved me, so even though it hurt, I felt happy. I felt attractive.

“After a month things changed. He would give me a bottle of perfume and then shout at me for nothing, so I tried to stop seeing him. He immediately turned on me, saying that he’d tell my mum I was dirty and had sex with him. He even showed me a video on his iPhone of us having sex that he’d filmed without me knowing.

I didn't know what to do
“I stopped hanging out with my friends because I was worried what they would think. I felt horrible and disgusted with myself.

“My mum was worried about me but I kept telling her to stop being overprotective. We had lots of fights, which pushed us further apart. Looking back she was devastated by my behaviour, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Forced to have sex
“One night after an argument Tarik forced me to take cocaine and drink vodka. I felt numb at that point as if nothing I could do would make me feel any worse.

“After an hour he opened the door to one of his friends and said, ‘you must have sex with him.’ I started crying but he threatened me with a knife and forced more vodka down my throat. I had sex with Tarik and his friend for the next four hours. It was a routine that was repeated with many other men in the following six months.

Double life
“I stopped going to school and Tarik wrote fake notes to my teachers saying I was suffering from stress. He always made sure I showed my face enough in school not to rouse suspicion.

“My life consisted of going to school occasionally, meeting a client, having sex and going home to have an argument with my mum.

Getting help
“I met Marijke, one of Tarik’s other girls when we were forced to have a threesome together.

“We were showering afterwards and she told me about a charity called StopLoverBoysNu. One of her friends had just got out of prostitution with their help and she said I should give it a go.

I told her everything
“I was scared that Tarik would find me again if I tried to stop. But I felt so sick and unhappy that I thought nothing could be worse so I called the number.

“I was told by the adviser to be honest with my mum, so that night I told her everything. It was painful, but she was supportive and decided it was best for me to go to StopLoverBoysNu’ safe house to make sure Tarik could not find me.

Hard to trust again
“I have been out of it for a year now and haven’t seen Tarik since. My school allowed me to repeat my year, so I am throwing myself into work and slowly making friends again.

“While I still find it hard to trust people, I do feel more positive about life. I feel like there is someone out there who will, one day, want to be with me.

StopLoverboysNU
Anna de Wit, who runs StopLoverboysNU says the problems are greatest in the south of the country where girls in youth care institutions and women's shelters are being targeted.

''In the south there’s still a taboo on the loverboy phenomenon, but we have reports from a variety of sources that the problem is quite serious down there. Boys, but girls too, infiltrate institutions to intimidate their prey into working as a prostitute.”

The Dutch government is investigating.

Have you ever been forced to do something you don't want to by the person you love?