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Grooming: What is it and how to know if you are a victim of it?

Grooming: What is it and how to know if you are a victim of it?

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Anna RusakAnna Rusak,19.12.2023 18:00

It's a warning sign when an older guy says this to you. Learn about grooming to protect yourself.

The media has frequently highlighted the issue of sexual grooming, where older men target younger women. However, it’s essential to recognise that this dynamic can also occur in reverse - older women grooming younger men - though it receives less attention. Regardless of the specific scenario, understanding what grooming entails is crucial.

What is grooming?

Grooming is commonly associated with the exploitation of children over the Internet. However, it’s essential to recognise that grooming is not limited to a specific age group or medium. Any situation where an older individual establishes an emotional connection with someone, intending to exploit them, falls under grooming.

In the case of children and teenagers, grooming often leads to sexual exploitation. Tragically, some victims of grooming are also coerced into being part of child pornography networks.

How does grooming manifest itself?

Grooming often begins innocently, with the seducer aiming to establish a close bond and create dependency. This attachment makes it challenging for the groomed person to maintain distance or refuse unwanted requests, leading to feelings of guilt.

Over time, it becomes difficult to recognize the groomer as an abuser. They may even become our friend, gaining our trust. Sometimes, they form friendly connections with our family or loved ones. Letting go of the notion that someone so close exploited us can be incredibly challenging.

How do we know if we are victims of grooming?

Subtle beginnings can lead to dangerous paths. Even seemingly "innocent" comments like "You’re mature for your age" should raise red flags. A tweet captures it well: "If an older guy tells you a similar thing, run far, adopt a Doberman, and teach it to bite on command.’

Beware of those who pose as mentors or authority figures. Beneath their kindness lies ulterior motives. They may seem to be helping you, but could only do so to take advantage of you later.

In such situations, watch out for seemingly "harmless" touches, i.e. hugs, tickling, and casual massages. Discussions about sexual topics or pornography should also raise concern (especially when dealing with older, more assertive individuals).

Remember, grooming isn’t limited to emotional manipulation; it can also involve financial abuse. Some exploit trust solely for financial gain.

While caution is essential, it doesn’t mean distrusting everyone. Pay attention to how people address you. Not everyone intends harm, but vigilance is never excessive.

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