So often, survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This happened to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent. ‘The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis’― Ellen Bass, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
What Is Grooming?
Grooming! When I first heard the word, it made me think of something nice. The words “preparation,” “training,” and “courting” came to mind. The term ‘grooming’ became horrible once I realized what it meant. It is a term that should get used with care.
No one seems to notice the red rugs in the lives of youngsters in contemporary times when everyone seems to mind their own business and going about their daily activities. ‘Oh!’ we all think. They’re kids or teenagers; they’ll get over it when they get older.’ However, this has resulted in far more terrible casualties than we could have expected.
Most of us have a natural tendency to trust a cousin or acquaintance who appears to have been around for a long time. What we do not seem to realize is that everyone has a hidden behaviour that they hide to avoid being judged. This brings us to the definition of grooming.
Grooming is attempting to form trusting relationships with children or families in order to commit child sexual abuse. For example, a friend or relative who tries to establish a relationship with a family by becoming close to a youngster may set the framework for later sexual abuse.
As a result, it is critical to acknowledge the victims of child sexual abuse from the start and to recognize that pre-abuse may not always be the case while grooming. Grooming a child, an environment, or a family can take many forms. However, identifying and addressing these differences is critical for protective and preventative measures.
Grooming from a family member or close relative may get perceived as informal because everyone knows the groomer. Because the abuser may be physically close to the child, there is usually no grooming. Protective adults and the surroundings may be the targets of ‘familial grooming,’ rather than the child.
For example, in a situation when a father sexually abuses a daughter or son, he may groom the mother to allow the father and child some alone time. This type of abuse could go undiscovered for a long time. The victim’s immediate surroundings can also get groomed in such a way that the groomer’s inappropriate behaviour becomes normalized and the victim is unaware they are being mistreated.
Victims may become groomed by their peers and adults if an institution gets involved, and the abuse becomes an organizational culture. Victims who report to organizational officials may get ignored or unnoticed. This is because sex offenders might exploit specialists in charge of such situations to their advantage. Peer-to-peer grooming has a similar resonance for being localized. A young girl or boy, for example, might lure other youngsters or peers into exploitative circumstances.
It may not come as a surprise to learn that men are the most common perpetrators of grooming and sexual assault, with girls being the primary victims. Grooming or sexual offences committed by young people or women are statistically lower than those done by men. This may draw women and young people who groom themselves to experiment with romantic relationships.
Alternatively, a community could get conditioned to regard offenders as trustworthy persons. For example, a celebrity may use his or her societal clout to groom victims and the public. When such allegations get made against them, the criminal may become pardoned or trusted.
When the risks of grooming and child abuse become understood and identified, we can avoid them. However, knowing the signs of grooming is essential for preventing and protecting your child from being a victim.
Signs of grooming in Children below the ages 12
We may confuse grooming with the normal adult-child relationship, which is hardly detectable. Here are a few signs to note when your child is being groomed.
- Your child may talk a lot about an adult or child who wants to spend more time with them.
- May hesitate to mention what they do when they are alone
- May receive lots of gifts or affection from the groomer
- May not want to mention where their gifts are coming from or who is giving to them
- May become pretty occupied on the phone with someone all the time
- Stops telling you about how their day went
- May want to spend time alone
Signs of grooming in teenagers
- Maybe dating an older boyfriend or girlfriend
- Receives expensive gifts in clothes, jewellery, etc.
- Does not want other people around when they are with boyfriend or girlfriend
- Might get defensive anytime you bring up new behaviour
- Circle of friends might change
- Might skip school or school activities
- Does not want to talk about what they are doing alone with said boyfriend or girlfriend
- May lie a lot
- Very protective over their phone
- Receives texts and messages from the groomer
- Does not talk to you about thoughts and feelings anymore
Signs a family or parent is being groomed
- Offers to take care of your child with activities you cannot
- Offers to buy gifts for the child and family
- Compliments to your parental style
- Offers to help the family in times of need
- Shows interest in child’s needs and education and other activities
- Innocently plays around your child and may touch your child in a non-sexual way to gain your trust
- May pass some remarks. Example ‘my future wife or husband’
- May flirt with you or be in a romantic relationship with you
- May defend the child even when the child is wrong
If you’re not sure what to do if your child or family is being groomed, these suggestions will help.
- First, watch out for signs that you or your child is being groomed
- Ask other people or families about the person’s relationship with others
- Stop the person from being alone with your child
- Avoid favours from the person
- Ask your child how they feel around the person
- Try having a conversation with your child about the person
- You can contact the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit where necessary.
The action by a paedophile of preparing a child for a meeting, especially via an internet chat room, intending to commit a sexual offence. “online grooming has become a growing cause for concern”
One too common to those who sexually abuse kids is grooming: manipulative behaviours that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse and reduce the risk of being caught. While they use these tactics most often against younger kids, teens and vulnerable adults are also at risk.
Grooming can take place online or in person. It’s usually employed by a family member or someone else in the victim’s circle of trust, such as a coach, teacher, youth group leader or others who naturally have some interaction with the victim.