A teenager says more needs to be done to protect young people from online predators after he was groomed on Snapchat and raped by a man who pretended to be his age.

The boy was 13 when he was attacked in a building in Brighton after meeting someone he thought was 14 but who turned out to be in their early 20s.

The young man, now 17, who has the right to lifetime anonymity, had been speaking to the person on social media platform Snapchat.

The man asked the teenager what he liked and offered to buy him things.

“He would message me and say he was my age,” he said.

“I remember him saying he was 14. Later it turned out he was way older.

“He arranged to meet me. I entered his room and I was shocked and scared to see an adult instead of the person I was talking to.

“I thought 'who are you?'”

Read more: Man who was sexually abused as a child says attacker has not broken him

The teenager said the man tried to get him to perform sexual acts on him before he raped him.

“After it happened I was in complete shock,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to say, what to feel, what to do.

“I remember getting the bus to the Marina.

“I felt so dirty and I needed a drink.

“All I could think of was getting myself home as quickly as possible and getting in the shower.”

The lasting effects of the attack have been devastating for the teenager.

He did not tell anyone until he confided in a nurse at the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton following a suicide attempt the year after the assault.

“It affected me a lot and I went mental,” he said.

“I didn’t have the confidence to speak to anyone about it.

“It really traumatised me.”

An investigation was launched but Sussex Police said there was “insufficient evidence” to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

The teenager felt let down by this.

He has shared his story to raise awareness of male sexual assault and the need for better education for children and teenagers on online dangers.

He said Sussex Police must do more.

“If schools and colleges had police go to them and talk about the risk of social media grooming this could have been avoided,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I learned the hard way at such a young age.

“It’s disgusting that a 17-year-old has to stand up for people.”

He says had he had proper education about online grooming things could have turned out very different for him.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We remain committed to improving the quality of rape investigations, as one of the first forces to adopt the national rape improvement model Operation Soteria.

“We will also continue to work closely with our partners to ensure young people are safeguarded physically and online and have the tools and education to make informed decisions.

“Project SOLAH (Safer Online at Home) – a partnership between Sussex Police, Barnardo’s and the YMCA working with young people and their families to improve online safety – was shortlisted for The Safeguarding Award at the Children & Young People Now awards in November.

“Participation in Project SOLAH gives access to advice, support and practical tips to prevent exposure to damaging online activity.”

Important contact details:

  • Survivors’ Network is the Rape Crisis Centre for Sussex, based in Brighton. 

Helpline (support for survivors and their supporters): 01273 720 110

  • Rape and sexual abuse support line run by Rape Crisis England and Wales

Helpline on 0808 500 2222 or use the online chat on their website (both are free and are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year)