A 20-year-old woman who took her own life at a Premier Inn after a night out with friends had been a victim of sexual grooming at the age of 13.
Caitlin O’Reilly had struggled with her mental health for seven years before she took her own life at a Premier Inn in Manchester after a night out with friends.
Her grief-stricken mum, Kay Speedman, said her daughter had thought she was "not worthy" since her early teens after the family discovered she had been sexually groomed by an older man, StokeOnTrentLive reports.
The ordeal led her to feel "adult emotions” at an "early age" and the feeling of her not belonging “stayed with her throughout adulthood."
Kay told StokeOnTrentLive: “When we found out what had happened to her when she was 13, that was a big change in everybody's life. At the time I was a police officer and I was on constant alert.
"She always thought that she was not worthy. The first time she came home from high school, I thought somebody had bullied her. She had got ‘not good enough’ written with a black pen down her forearm.
“I said ‘who’s done that to you’. She looked at me and said it was me.
“The problem we had is that at an early age, when she wasn’t ready, she was dealing with adult emotions and didn't know how to.
"I knew her inside out. I’d be on pins thinking when I get home I am going to find blood in the bath when she self harmed or she is going to be unconscious on the bed."
Despite this, Caitlin was determined to help other girls struggling to cope and would regularly “stay up on social media for hours at night helping kids.”
Kay said: "She was always on the outskirts of the popular group. She never quite fit in or felt like she belonged, that stayed with her throughout into adulthood.
"Even when she was suffering with her own mental health she would stay up on social media for hours at night helping other kids. They would see at school she had self harmed and didn't dare speak to her.
"At night she’d get a message I’ve self harmed, what do I do. She would sit up until the early hours talking to them. She was telling them they must do something about it and seek help. She would spend hours helping other people but she could never help herself."
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Paying tribute to their daughter, who died on August 18 2019, Kay and Pete, Caitlin’s dad, have teamed up with Stoke-on-Trent youth charity, Ruff and Ruby to create a range of t-shirts in Caitlin’s name.
All proceeds from sales will go to the Caitlin O’Reilly Fund which offers young people mental health support packages and early intervention.
Kay said: “It’s overwhelming to see the T-shirts on display and the efforts that the team have gone into to get everything together, it’s amazing.
“We need to show young girls that it isn’t all about Instagram and filters, you have got to love yourself.
“We are making young people think that they have got to fit into a box instead of making their own box.
"Hopefully pupils like Caitlin won’t fall through the cracks."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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