Rotherham abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse on an 'overwhelming' year of fighting for victims

Campaigner Sammy Woodhouse is a busy woman.

Campaigner Sammy Woodhouse is pushing for a change in the law to prevent abusers seeking access to children conceived through rape.

When we speak, she is in the middle of writing letters to all 650 MPs urging them to help her change the law.

The survivor of the Rotherham sex abuse scandal hit the headlines when she revealed that her local council had offered to help Arshid Hussain, the man who raped and impregnated her at 15, to seek access to her son. At the time, she says, she had been in “complete shock”.

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“When I testified against him, he got sentenced to 35 years for not just what he did to me but to other people.

“I thought, ‘That’s it, I will never have to deal with him again and I can move forward’.

“The fact that such an evil man could seek visitation or seek custody of my son was just horrific.”

At first, Ms Woodhouse tried to raise her concerns privately with Ministers and officials, but says her efforts fell on deaf ears.

She then decided to publicly identify herself in a video she posted online.

The 33-year-old, who had already waived her anonymity to talk about her years of abuse, says it was a difficult decision to make.

It also meant talking publicly about her son for the first time.

She says: “I have always got loads of campaigns going but this is the first one where it has been about my son. I have always kept my son out of things.

“This time it was different. I was out there, talking directly about him. I got his permission to do that, I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.

“My son is backing me 150 per cent but to have the nation support me as it has done has been really overwhelming.

“I have had people contact me from all over the world.”

Since then, Ms Woodhouse says, things have gone “absolutely crazy”.

She has received thousands of messages of support, many from other abuse survivors sharing their own nightmarish experiences of the family courts, or from children conceived through rape.

“I was recently talking to a woman who contacted me to say, ‘I’m a baby of a rape and for 18 years they never told me. I had to have contact with him for 18 years, not knowing anything and I have now found out he raped my mum’,” she says.

“One boy takes a knife and tries to carve his own DNA out. I am hearing stories of these men actually sexually abusing their children.”

She is now campaigning for the law to be changed to prevent attackers from being able to seek access to children conceived through rape.

She is also calling for an independent review of the family courts system which, she says, prevents people from speaking up.

Asked whether she thinks she will win the fight, she says: “I have got my work cut out but to me this is common sense.

“If you have a person who is a direct risk, that person loses their human rights.”