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How Brook helped me: Cassie’s story

Cassie, 24, talks about how Brook has helped her and her friends over the years by being a safe, supportive and non-judgemental source of care and education.

Content warning

This page has discussion of sexual assault.

My name is Cassie, I’m a 24-year-old Sex Educator and Student Nurse from Liverpool and my pronouns are she/they. I’m a big football fan (the reds!) and I spend most of my time drawing feminist and sex positive illustrations and reading anything I can get my hands on.  

I first found out about Brook through school. They used to come once or twice a year and we’d usually sit in our big assembly hall and do some workshops. The most memorable time was when they hosted a circuit event – each table had something different to do/learn and I remember feeling a lot better than I did walking out of my sex ed lessons. Our team also won the circuit and I still have the certificate to this day! 

I think I was about 14/15 when I first went to Brook in Birkenhead. Lots of my friends had recently become sexually active and I had visited Brook with them when they had an unwanted pregnancy or got an STI.  

One of my friends was unfortunately assaulted at a party and had to take a pregnancy test and an STI test. I went with her and the nurse was so incredibly kind to her that even I got emotional during our time there.  

We were both very nervous on our way and assumed we would be judged for even walking into the building but that wasn’t the case.  

This experience encouraged me to go back and talk about contraception with one of the nurses. We ended up deciding that the injection would be best for me as I wanted to stop my periods. I still remember the nurse to this day; funny, soothing and kind! 

To be honest the visit was nothing like I expected. At school, both in the playground and from teachers, there was this idea that if you went on contraception, took a pregnancy test or even an STI test that you were less than. I felt like I would be judged and that they would be hesitant to help me and my friends but they weren’t! We walked in and they gave us a very easy form to fill out about why we were there. A simple tick box form, nothing overwhelming, really easy to understand. We left the building feeling relieved and quite frankly, grateful.  

I went back to Brook a few times, mainly just to get my depo injection because this is where I felt safest to get it done. There was a ‘Family Planning Clinic’ closer to home but Brook felt safer and less overwhelming than an actual hospital!   

There was no shame when you were with Brook and that was the main thing for me. I didn’t want to feel embarrassed or shameful – so that’s why I used Brook. 

I think that we probably could have got the service elsewhere but we were never told that. We could have gone through our GP but at that age you’re scared, you don’t want your parents to know and you kind of associate going to your GP with your mum or carer! Brook offered a discreet way of getting help without an adult and without letting your GP know. There was no other place like Brook at my age. 

I can safely say my life would be entirely different without Brook. 

Seeing how sex-positive and shame free they were and how much the service helped me and my friends, it planted the sex-positive seed that has now grew into me doing similar work as Brook. I want young people to feel as safe with me as I did with Brook when I was a teen. As for what I’d do if we didn’t have Brook growing up… Not even sure that bears thinking about to be honest. It is where almost all of our Sex and Relationships knowledge came from.  

My friend that got help from Brook after her assault may never have found out she had caught an STI, she may never have received the proper care! To tell you the truth we wouldn’t have even properly understood that it was assault without the nurse that helped her.  

Me and my group of friends were always very grateful for Brook.  

It’s been nice to see that Brook has remained a safe and inclusive place for young people and not only still does what it did for me but more! My experience with Brook has kind of come full circle now which is quite emotional for me. I started as a small girl who panicked at the thought of talking about my body with someone else, to talking about it on the internet and even winning an award from Brook as ‘Micro influencer of the year’ with my podcast talking about Sex and Relationships. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without them attending my school when I was a girl.  

Thank you Brook! Legends! 

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