Grooming is a process of desensitization that predators use on children to prepare and trick them into accepting sexual abuse. Once the predator has gained the child’s trust and confidence, they use everyday behaviours, like telling an inappropriate joke, a touch on the upper arm that lingers a little too long or a kiss on the lips to test whether your child is likely to tell on them. If the perpetrator is satisfied that your child won’t tell, the predator moves onto other forms of bad touching. If the child still doesn’t tell, then the abuse continues along the continuum of abuse from non contact, to contact and often ending with penetration and sometimes even homicide.
Just as we groom ourselves before going out to make us look presentable, predators often groom themselves as wonderful, caring people. They may involve themselves in your family’s life and often do great things in the community. This is a trick. This is their game. This is their way of being open about being sneaky and of gaining more access to your child. They often set themselves up to be high profile in a community and they spend a lot of energy in ensuring their innocence. They can sometimes be the person that we would first approach to baby-sit while we go to dinner. They are so good with the kids, so loving and protective, so eager to assist.
Grooming can take many months, and includes grooming adults around the child. Including you. The child’s support networks are groomed to disbelieve any thing their child may say about bad touches. The predator may try to win your confidence and support by having some quick conversations with you about a lie the child told or they may even suggest that there’s something unbalanced about your child. They do it so caringly and openly portray their concern and willingness to support you. The quick comments may well be true. The child may have lied or may even be acting out of character. But, just remember that if a child lies once it doesn’t doom them to an eternal cycle of lying. If ever your child says they’ve been abused, always believe them, even if you think it’s impossible. Remember, your thoughts of impossibility may be because you’ve been groomed.
Developed world research suggests that eighty-five percent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by somebody well known to the child: somebody that has access to your child on an ongoing basis. This may suggest that the grooming has become so entrenched into our daily life that we fail to recognize it as grooming. Predators need access to children and the family home is a great place to find kids.
Sometimes we are married to the perpetrators and do not know it because they have groomed us so well. Yes, even some parents sexually abuse their own children. Females too, sexually abuse. Mostly though, parents and grandparents love their children and want to protect them. If you know a family member, or anyone else, who may be abusing children you need to get them some help. The only way to get help is to tell someone in a position to act upon and stop the abuse: the police or child welfare authority in your state. You cannot assist, or change perpetrators, because you would do so at the risk of your child. Failure to protect children is as bad as abusing the child yourself. Darkness to Light suggests that an average serial perpetrator may abuse 400 children in a lifetime. By not protecting one child, you are also failing to protect other children. Please report.
In this age of terrorism, we are quick to act on any suspicious activity. We are trying to prevent further acts of terror by recognizing the warning signs and intervening before something happens. Child sexual abusers are domestic terrorists and their acts affect our children for many years to come. Prevent the infiltration of domestic terrorism by recognizing the grooming process and stopping it now.
In tomorrow’s blog we’ll look at why children don’t always tell you they’ve been abused. Believe it or not, the silence can also be a part of the grooming process. In the meantime, here’s some related Families.com articles to ponder:
Our children in danger from sexual molestors.
Coping with sexual assault.
Coping with sexual assault 2.
Teaching children about child molesters.
The epidemic of online child sexual crimes.
Do you know of any excellent web sites that can give other parents further information about the grooming process? Copy the URL into the comment box below so that if people want, they can have a further look at this dreadful tactic of power that predators attempt to trick us with.