Alone in a hotel room with a man she’d met only half-an-hour earlier, Becky Stevens knew it was too late to back out. For six months, the 15-year-old had been chatting online to ‘Stuart’ after meeting him on an internet dating site. As part of their virtual courtship, Stuart — who claimed to be 24 — lavished her with compliments and asked her to send increasingly provocative photos of herself. Desperate for his approval, she complied.

Now that he had paid Becky’s train fare to travel 200 miles to meet him, it was clear he expected her to have sex with him. And even though she didn’t want to, she still went ahead.

Becky says: ‘We’d been chatting for a few months and sent sexual messages to each other a few times so, although it seems so stupid now, real sex seemed like the obvious next step. But my first thought when I saw him was: “Oh God, he looks nothing like his picture.” He wasn’t attractive and looked more like 40. But, still, we went straight to the hotel and had sex. I recall feeling nervous, but it was over quickly. ‘Afterwards, he paid for the room and we said goodbye at the station.

We never saw each other again. I cried on the train going home, because I felt so disgusted with myself. My mum thought I was over at my friend’s house the whole time.’ It would be easy to assume that such a degrading experience would put Becky off internet ‘dating’ for ever.

 

But as an overweight, insecure teenager, she was desperate for the empty compliments that were showered on her in return for sexual favors — and the encounter was to mark the start of a five-year addiction to having sex with men she met on the internet.

‘I felt degraded but, at the same time, I was hooked on the excitement and craved attention’ Becky’s story is all the more alarming as she is not only from a loving home, but also a good student who achieved As and Bs at GCSEs. At night, she was trawling up to seven different dating sites, exchanging explicit messages and allowing herself to be filmed stripping and carrying out sex acts — what is known as ‘cyber-sex’. Like many parents, her family was unaware how she was spending her time online.

Despite the obvious dangers, between the ages of 15 and 20 Becky met 40 men — strangers, ranging from teenagers to married men in their late 40s — for sex in often risky situations. Becky, who lives nearExeterwith her widowed mother, a childminder, says: ‘We’d check into cheap hotels, or they’d drive me somewhere and we’d have sex in the car. The men were always in charge, they’d obviously been watching a lot of porn and would ask me to replicate things they’d seen in videos. ‘The sex was awful, they never asked me if I enjoyed it — and I never saw them again.

I felt degraded but, at the same time, I was hooked on the excitement and craved attention.’ During her assignations, Becky’s mother thought she was staying with friends. While she has since confessed about her secret life, they have found it too awkward to discuss it in depth.

But Becky is now choosing to speak out because, when she eventually told her friends about the mistakes she had made, it transpired that she was far from the only one who had become involved with strangers over the internet. Now she wants to help expose the appalling reality of the online traps awaiting teenage girls.

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