The Grooming Process: Steps Offenders Take Against Children and Vulnerable Adults

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The Grooming Process: Steps offenders take against children and vulnerable adults

1. Seek out a potential victim
Predators usually select a potential victim who is available and appears vulnerable in some way. Vulnerabilities can include cognitive/mental disabilities, physical disabilities, high intoxication levels, homelessness, age, etc. Predatory behaviors tend to focus on individuals with emotional needs such as friendship or other companionship.

2. Establish a Relationship with Target
Predators find ways to build trust and friendship with their target. This is often done through casual conversations with the victim and/or their caregivers. During this stage, predators begin to fill the specific need(s) of their victim so as to make him/her dependent on them in some way.

3. Find Ways to Isolate the Victim
Isolation from family and friends can be used as a tool to establish control over the victim. The predator will begin to take a major role in the victim’s life and work to distance them from others. Isolation also creates times to be alone with the victim and offers opportunities for abuse to occur.

4. Maintain Control Over the Victim
Control over a victim is frequently established through fear, threats, manipulation, and violence. Threats of harm to family, friends, or the victim themselves can be extremely compelling for victims and can easily prevent him or her from seeking help. Threats of harm can include threats of physical violence to threats of reputational harm and abandonment to the victim or victim’s family. Another way that offenders maintain control over the victim is by making a victim feel responsible for his or her own abuse to prevent them from confiding in others about the abuse.