REAL LIFE BETHANY
‘Lucie’ has opened up about how being groomed online from the age of 10 has left her with PTSD
THE girl who inspired Coronation’s Street grooming storyline has spoken out about her harrowing real life ordeal – and how it brought star Lucy Fallon to tears.
Lucy, 21, who plays schoolgirl Bethany Platt in the ITV soap, has been praised for her performance in recent episodes that have seen her raped by her much older boyfriend Nathan Curtis’s friends, proposed to and isolated from her family and friends.
The uncomfortable storyline was inspired by and developed using the story of ‘Lucie’ (not her real name) and support from the NSPCC.
Speaking to the Mirror, Lucie revealed her treatment at the hands of a much older boyfriend has left her needing therapy and post-traumatic stress syndrome – and hearing of what she went through brought the young actress to tears.
She said: “Lucy Fallon cried when I met her. She was very emotional about my story and I think it hit home for her that what she’s doing is somebody’s reality.”
Now aged 21, Lucie revealed she was first groomed online when she was just 10 years old, and admitted she was unhappy at home and school.
The sick groomer – in his late twenties – pretended to be DYING in order to convince Lucie to meet him.
She said: “He was very, very abusive as soon as I met him, straight away.
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“He drew me in to this fantasy idea of a relationship, and obviously when you’re young that’s what you think you want. He abused me for a very long time.
“He was much more than 10 years older than me – he would have been in his late twenties or early thirties when we met.
“I still don’t know exactly how old he was. Even when I met him he didn’t tell me, I only know because that’s what the police told me later.
“I was really terrified about meeting up with him. Obviously I’d learnt in school it wasn’t a good idea to meet up with someone online, but he was very manipulative and he did say he really wanted to meet me.”
Lucie added that after a couple of years of grooming, she was pressured in to posing for explicit photographs – which she still fears are being circulated amongst paedophiles online today.
Her experience was directly mirrored in the ITV soap when Nathan – played by Chris Harper – showed his pals scantily clad pictures of 17-year-old Bethany.
Similarly Nathan’s promise to WED Bethany was another experience from Lucie’s life.
She told the paper: “I didn’t have anything to compare it to, I didn’t know this wasn’t normal in a relationship.
“But that was his bribery, almost – ‘oh, we’ll get engaged, we’ll get married’. I wanted stability.”
Lucie’s parents found out about the illegal relationship when she was 17, a whole SEVEN years after their initial online meeting.
She discovered that her abuser had children of his own, and scared for their welfare she went to the police who built a case involving “multiple victims” who had been abused “online and in person”.
Outrageously, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the abuser and Lucie has been left with deep emotional scars.
She said: “I don’t think you ever recover fully.
“You just have to take any day as it comes.
“I had a lot of therapy and a lot of support from my post-traumatic stress diagnosis, and although I am still diagnosed with that you learn to live with it day by day.”
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