Story By: James Weatherup; Sub Editor: David Rogers; Agency: Freelance
Homeless people sleeping in London parks are being routinely preyed on by sex attackers with rich men offering cash incentives the worst offenders.
That’s the claim made by a Romanian who managed to get off the streets who says he even considered taking his own life after being robbed and sexually abused after he ended up sleeping rough in London.
Flamboyant Constantin4U who managed to get off the streets by turning to singing and starting a YouTube channel revealed men demanded sexual favours from him and threatened his life if he didn’t comply.
The terrifying abuse happened before he managed to escape sleeping on park benches which he did for three months after arriving in London.
Constantin4U, whose YouTube video One Boy From A Little Town has been viewed more than a million times, said he was too frightened to report the attacks to police and only went to them for help when his bag and passport were stolen in the night.
Speaking for the first time about the abuse the 31-year-old singer who now lives in Lambeth, South London, said rich, well-heeled men, who prowled Royal Parks in the middle of the night were the worst offenders
He said: “First I want to say that I thought for a long time whether to talk about this – if I should or if I should not – but I’m really glad that I decided to do it and speak out about this issue, not only for me but for other homeless people.
“So, I’m speaking here not only for myself but also for many other homeless people who have endured similar atrocities.
“And you know what… there is actually not much protection out there for these people – no one really cares.
“It is sad, I don’t know what can be done but there is not any protection for people on the streets, they are vulnerable and are very easy targets.”
Constantin fled to England in 2010 with just £10 in his pocket after being hounded out of Romania for being gay.
He explained:” Very wealthy people would come to the parks late at night and abuse me physically and sexually.
“This is the most painful part for me to speak about. Those people were wealthy, I remember them owning expensive watches and jewellery.
“They would threaten me – if I didn’t have sex with them, they would go to the police and deport me for being homeless. I was a very easy target and felt like prey to them.
“I could hardly speak English and didn’t have anyone to turn to – and of course was terrified of being deported.
“It was the worst part of my life and is very difficult for me to re-live.
“The abusers were always men – I remember some of them wore wedding rings. Around 3am – 4am in the morning they would come, sometimes drunk, sometimes on drugs, but they knew what they were doing. They abused me and forced me into acts against my will.
“I was scared, terrified I would be deported so I thought I couldn’t go to the police.
“Some of the men threatened me saying that if I went to the police, they would kill me and that no one would even notice.”
“Thinking back on it, I think these individuals lived very close to St James Park and that they’d get up in the middle of the night looking for pleasure.
“They made me feel like a dirty tissue, something that you chuck in the toilet and flush away.
“I remember one time I decided to fight back against one of those men in St James Park, to try and escape, but this guy wrestled me to the floor and pushed me in the lake.
“It was the middle of the night and the water was freezing cold, I was terrified – I didn’t even know how to swim.
“I just started screaming and the man asked me if I was ready to stop playing games and only when I agreed I would did he rescue me from the lake…I have a lot of horrible experiences like that.
“I felt very low, very miserable for a long time afterwards. I just felt empty and full of disgust about myself.
“It was really tough. To be honest, I contemplated suicide a couple of times.”
He went on: “I was very scared to sleep in the park at night. I remember how I felt when I woke up one morning and my rucksack with all my belongings was gone. It had all my documents, including my passport. I was terrified because I was left with absolutely nothing.
“The police offered me an opportunity to go back to Romania. They even gave me a ticket for a bus at Victoria station but going back wasn’t an option.
“It was horrendous, I had to bathe myself in different toilets. I tried to keep myself very clean so most people wouldn’t have a clue about my situation if they saw me.
“I felt intensely ashamed. One day, I was so hungry I was actually feeling sick. I was outside a sandwich shop at Victoria Station but didn’t have any money. I was so desperate, I grabbed a couple of sandwiches and left without paying. The staff saw me and watched me take them but didn’t do anything. I think they sensed that I was in a lot of trouble. But I still feel ashamed of what happened.”
In the daytime, Constantin would canvass restaurants looking for a job. “I was desperate. But my English was very limited. At many places, I saw people laughing behind my back. I was totally humiliated. And I was incredibly sad by how I was treated. But I refused to give up.”
Reflecting on the time spent on the streets, Constantin is adamant that the experience made him even more determined to succeed and inspired the singer to pen an autobiography about his extraordinary life story.
“I think it’s part of my fate, absolutely it’s been part of my journey that has led me to where I am today. Without faith perhaps I wouldn’t be here today.
“Anyway, eventually I met a wonderful man called Mahmood, he helped me a lot – giving me food and washing my clothes.
“But I never opened up to him about what I was going through, I felt deeply ashamed about it all. It’s still really hard to talk about today.
“They did a lot of damage, for a short period I was in a spiral of depression.
“I just hope there are other homeless people who are in my situation that don’t make the same mistakes I did.
“It’s a horrible thing to go through, when you are on the streets you don’t have anything- you don’t have anybody, to have people coming to take advantage of your situation and abuse you, you know, it sends you to a difficult place.
“My advice to anyone going through something similar would be to never, ever, play their games. Go straight to the police, you don’t have to take their abuse.
“Don’t be quiet, don’t be ashamed like I was. There are a lot of wonderful people who are on the streets, these are good people who don’t deserve to be treated like this.
“I want to give these people a voice, there is no protection out there for the homeless – I want to let people know my story to raise awareness. Nobody seems to care about these people, it’s like they’ve been forgotten and I hope we can change this.”