Terrified of what Zimmy would do

A guest post at Left Foot Forward by “Helen” who tells a story of being groomed at age 16 by her “boyfriend” age 24.

I met Zimmy through Zamir, who I truly believed to be a “friend”, although since friends tend not to take you round to their uncle’s and offer you for sex in exchange for heroin, I can see now that he most definitely was not.

Zimmy was Zamir’s dealer and didn’t hesitate in asking me out, although like “friend”, “out” meant sitting in his Audi smoking a drug I thought was weed but that he later told me was heroin. Being such a good ‘boyfriend’, he also later introduced me to crack.

It was 1996. Looking back I was stupid, but at the time it was an escape from the misery of my family life and I thought everything would be fine. Over the next few weeks Zimmy showered me with gifts, money and drugs, but also started to tell tales of torturing his drug rivals and threatening me and my family:

“If you leave me I’ll burn your house down and only rescue you”; “You know too much about me now so if you leave me I’ll have to kill you”; “If you ever leave I’ll shoot you and leave you on the side of the M40”; “You are going to leave your family, and I’ll give you a nice flat in Reading”.

Hmmyeah, not the best boyfriend ever. She started trying to get away from him.

It all came to a head one night when I was in a café and he came in and demanded I left with him. The café was full of Pakistani men, I was there with a “friend”- I didn’t like going home at night. I was terrified of what Zimmy would do to me, I told him I wouldn’t go, but no-one at all stood up for me and I was asked to leave.

As soon as I got in his car I asked him not to leave our town, but he left and started driving toward Heathrow on the M40. I knew he was going to shoot me – I knew too much about his businesses, so I acted as bubbly and friendly as I could. I thought that if I showed fear, he’d act accordingly and kill me.

He pulled over to the side of the motorway, and made me get out, and made me kneel on the side of the road. I waited, and then he drove off and left, and I never saw him again. I think he just wanted to scare me.

So she’s disgusted by the news that’s come out of Rotherham.

The Left has a responsibility to stand up for the most vulnerable people in our society.To stand against abuse and against bigotry. But this is not what has happened.

We learn that there may have been a culture of silence within Labour over this issue, and that a House of Commons Committee is going to investigate exactly what they knew and why they didn’t act more aggressively.

Denis McShane says he was forced into making a ‘grovelling climb down’ after he raised these issues out of fear of them affecting ‘community cohesion’. And herein lays the tragic irony. By sweeping the issue under the carpet, the Left actually damaged community cohesion and betrayed the girls who were being victimised. Ann Cryer says she was shunned by parts of Labour for raising the matter of grooming gangs.

Why is it always so easy to sweep the concerns and needs of women and girls aside?




  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    How did any identification between the Labour Party and “the Left” survive the Blair years???

  2. quixote says

    “Why is it always so easy to sweep the concerns and needs of women and girls aside?”

    Why is it always so easy to sweep the concerns and needs of women and girls aside?


    That’s the question they need to be asking themselves. And answering. And then bloody stopping with the sweeping.

  3. Brony says

    Why is it always so easy to sweep the concerns and needs of women and girls aside?

    Because society has lots of mechanisms to give men more power and social tools to minimize the power of women. I think the answer is one part status quo among authorities, one part sensitivity to intensity of challenging the status quo (abusers will use any means necessary to avoid consequences and that requires resources and desire on the part of authorities), and one part lack of tools to take bites out of the first two.

    “Grooming” is creation of social tools for control of others. The neutral-to-good version respects power imbalance and treats the less powerful party as a full human person with all the same value as the more powerful party and offers personal autonomy. We have no (or few, on this I am a pessimist) authorities that can handle creating an equal playing field for law enforcement or social conflict so various parties (women and other social minorities mostly) are manipulated into being easier to neglect to make the lives of authorities easier.

  4. johnthedrunkard says

    Gee, if he’d just used alcohol to incapacitate her it would have been ‘normal teen dating.’

    A huge part of the horror of this is how perilously close to ‘normal’ her experience was.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    How did any identification between the Labour Party and “the Left” survive the Blair years???

    Gordon Brown did a good job of coming across as part of “the Left” when he described a woman who voiced a perfectly reasonable concern about the scale of white Eastern European immigration as “bigoted”, when he didn’t know he was being recorded. Might have cost him the election. Knee-jerk branding as racist anyone who isn’t 100% behind the cause of community cohesion and multiculturalism isn’t a feature of the right, it’s a feature of “the Left”, isn’t it? Hence Denis McShane’s required “grovelling climbdown”.

  6. kage says

    sonofrojblake @ 7
    AFAIK we never heard exactly what the woman in question said to Brown, so I’m interested to know how you are sure that what she said was ‘perfectly reasonable’ and calling her bigoted was ‘knee-jerk branding’.

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