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Grooming


Behaviors of Sexual Predators: Grooming & the Impact of the Power Differential People think they are immune to being a victim, and loved ones think they cannot be fooled. The reality is that humans want to be loved, cared for, and have value and I believe most of us ultimately trust/assume, people in positions of authority “will do no harm.” Grooming is the process during which a sexual offender draws a target in by gaining his or her trust to sexually use the target and maintain secrecy. The offender may also groom the target’s loved ones by persuading them of his or her trustworthiness with the target. The process of grooming may last months or even years to break through defenses and increase the victim’s acceptance of physical contact. The stages of grooming may include: 1 Targeting the victim. Sexual offenders test for vulnerability and look for emotional neediness, isolation, and low self-confidence, as well as less parental attention. 2 Gaining the target’s trust. Offenders watch and get to know their victims and their needs, as well as how to fulfill them. The predator may introduce secrecy to build trust and distance the target from his or her loved ones, such as allowing them to do something that others would not approve of. 3 Filling a need. Once the predator learns to fill the target’s needs with gifts, affection, or attention, they take on a more important role in the target’s life. 4 Isolating the target. The offender may offer lessons for free or do other favors to find ways for them to be alone without adult interruptions. Parents may unknowingly encourage this by appreciating this unique relationship. 5 Sexualizing the interaction. Grooming begins with nonsexual touching, such as accidental or playful touching to desensitize the victim so they do not resist a more sexualized touch. The offender then exploits curiosity to advance the sexuality of the interaction. Friendly flirtation fosters infatuation and playfulness behavior becomes gradually more contactual. 6 Maintaining control. The predator may use threats and guilt to enforce secrecy and force continued participation and silence. The target, now victim, may feel that the loss of the relationship and the consequences of exposing it will humiliate and render them even more unwanted. Adapted from 6 Stages of Grooming - by Dr. Michael Welner, http://www.sasorg.co.uk/6-stages-of-grooming/

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​© 2014 by Janet Pinneau

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