How Sexual Predators Groom Their Victims

Pretend that you are back in high school and pretend that you are (for lack of a better word) a nerd. You spend more time at home figuring out quantum mechanics than you do socializing. In this hypothetical story, it is nearing finals week of senior year. You have already mentally clocked out of high school and moved on to a prestigious university.

acda21f24765e2a66af2cb0b90480e13You sit in physics class touching up your scientific reading knowledge when someone taps you on the shoulder. You turn around and it is the smokeshow blonde from the back of your classroom -– and get this, she is smiling at you!

You fumble to get real words out of your mouth, but not to worry because she already knows exactly what she wants to say to you. After charming you with a sweet hi she says she wants to know if you would tutor her for the final exam. You agree and instantly begin to put a thorough lhkv7cs-iesson plan together in your head. She arrives at your house (of course she has a sweet ride!) and you let her in and offer her a soda pop. She declines and you head to your room where you are ready to teach. Only you get in your room and she does not want to learn. No, she wants to have sex with you. You are a human being, so you do not even think about motive when she begins stripping you. Before you know it she has rocked your world.

As you lay in bed happier than you have ever been, she begins to dress herself and turns back to ask if you can still tutor her for the exam. You begin to reply enthusiastically, but before you can finish she cuts you off. She does not want to actually learn anything for the exam, she only wants to do well enough so that she can graduate on time and she knows you can get her the grade that she needs to do so.

She wants you to cheat for her. At first you are hesitant. But she quickly puts to rest any of your concerns when she comes over and kisses you passionately for a minute or two. You agree to help her cheat on the exam.

You are a victim. You have been groomed. The smokeshow blonde gained your trust by manipulating you and used you for what she wanted.

To recap: grooming increases the predator’s access to their victim and decreases the likelihood of discovery.

As we have learned, child molesters do their homework. They take it slow and test the child many times before getting to the stage they ultimately want to be at. And to be clear that does not always mean rape. But technicalities for the police and investigators aside, being weird is being weird, and I think we can all agree on that.

Below are some quotes from convicted child molesters. They basically laughed their way towards molestation because of being too trusted and the negligence on the part of so many people –- specifically parents of the victims.

Be amazed:

“Parents are so naive—they’re worried about strangers and should be worried about their brother-in-law. They just don’t realize how devious we can be. I used to abuse children in the same room with their parents and they couldn’t see it or didn’t seem to know it was happening.”

“I was disabled and spent months grooming the parents, so they would tell their children to take me out and help me. No one thought that disabled people could be abusers.”

“Parents are partly to blame if they don’t tell their children about [sexual matters]—I used it to my advantage by teaching the child myself.”

“Parents shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about things like this—it’s harder to abuse or trick a child who knows what you’re up to.”

I will write it a million times if I have to: grooming is a process. First, the predator chooses a target area, which could be places like schools, shopping malls, playgrounds and parks. They may work or volunteer at businesses that cater to children. Single parent families are also a target for predators.

There is no prototypical victim of child sexual abuse, which is contrary to public opinion, but predators often target children with obvious vulnerabilities. Think about it: a child who feels unloved and unpopular (think about the nerd with the smokeshow!) will soak up adult attention like a sponge. The same can be said about children with family problems, children who spend time alone and unsupervised, children who lack confidence and self-esteem, and children and who are isolated from their peers.

Predators use many different forms of charm with potential victims. They may offer to play games, give rides, or buy candy. If the children are older, the predator may offer drugs or alcohol. But no matter what the circumstance the predator almost always offer a sympathetic, understanding ear.

When the predator gives the child the candy they will then say things like: “Here’s some candy. But don’t tell your friends because they’ll be jealous, and don’t tell your mother because she won’t like you eating between meals.” Or they will threaten the child: “If you tell your mother what happened, she’ll hate you. It’ll kill her. Or I’ll kill her. Or I’ll kill you.”

Predators use the grooming process to break down a child’s defensive instincts and increase the child’s acceptance of touch. The first physical contact between predator and victim is often nonsexual touching designed to identify limits: an “accidental” touch, an arm around the shoulder, a brushing of hair. Nonsexual touching breaks down inhibitions with the child and leads to more overt sexual touching – the predator’s ultimate goal.

Successful predators will find a way to fill a void in a child’s life.

How do we stop pedophiles from getting that far with our children? The best way to recognize the grooming behavior is to pay attention the child and the people in the child’s life. Children rely on adults to protect them from strangers, most who are more often than not other adults.

The twenty first century world is fast-paced, interconnected, and diverse. The problems the world faces are at the highest peak of our civilization. There are many demands placed upon our time, and in our daily routines, but nothing is more important than the welfare of our children. When we blindly surrender responsibility for them to others without question, we invite trouble.

Parents and guardians should take the time to really get to know their child’s teachers, coaches, day care providers, youth group leaders, and other significant adults in their lives. Make unannounced visits. Ask questions. Stay involved. So what if you seem overprotective? So what if it may drive the people of authority crazy to have to answer your questions over-and-over again? At least you will know that you are protecting your child.

The simplest thing to do, to start, would be to talk to your children. Teach them to recognize grooming behaviors in adults. We can teach our children this aspect at that same early stage in their lives where we tell them repeatedly not to get in cars with strangers. Teach them to be wary of any physical contact initiated by an adult. And teach them to trust you with their problems and their pain. The safest child is a child who knows they can bring their problems and concerns to parents and not feel like they are going to be yelled at or punished in some way.

Finally, I want to say that the last quote from the barrage above really got to me and I think it is the epitome of what I am trying to do with this site. Here it is again from a convicted child molester:

“Parents shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about things like this—it’s harder to abuse or trick a child who knows what you’re up to.”

Personally, I do not think it is embarrassment that stops parents from talking to their children about child abuse. I think there reason parents may choose not to talk to there children is simply due to a lack of knowledge. That is why it is my mission to try and connect with as many individuals as possible. Current parents, grandparents, future parents, children — whomever it may be. We can all learn how to better protect each other with knowledge.

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