Also known as ‘Love Bombing’ or the ‘psychopaths love hook’.
Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with someone to earn trust with the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or even trafficking.
It may be online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by some one they know-(family members, friends or professionals).
Whilst grooming children up to age 16-(18 for vulnerable) is illegal in the UK, it’s not illegal to groom an adult (although vulnerable adults do have some protection).
The classic stages of grooming can roughly be summarised as:
- Groomers target/profile the victim(s)
- Groomers deliberately use words, promises and actions to gain the victim’s trust
- They identify a need in their victims and fill it – or pretend/seem to do so
- They desensitise the victim so that their normal guards/filters fail
- Groomers then isolate victims (if they’re not already isolated) and/or make them complicit
- They then sexualise the relationship. This is often the end game for adult groomers, who then disappear/’ghost’ their targets
- Groomers establish/maintain control over the situation and/or the victim’s behaviours, often using ‘gaslighting’ techniques to make them doubt their own instincts.