ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION, ARTICLES
George’s Story: 10 Signs Someone You Know Might Be Grooming Your Child
One of the key ways a child predator gains access to their victim is by grooming the child. By befriending and creating an emotional connection with a child, the predator is able to gain the trust of the victim, allowing them to make the child believe the abuse is natural. Sometimes the predator will create a good relationship with the family of the child for two reasons: 1) To give them easy access to the child; and 2) When accusations are made, they’re less likely to believe the victim.
George was having a rough time at home and at school. His Aunt’s new husband, Terry, wanted to help George by doing things for him that would make his life easier. He would buy George new video games, and would then invite himself over to play the games with him.
While Terry would visit, he would often let George talk to him about his personal problems. George would complain about his mother and how strict she was – like many 13-year-olds do. Terry would agree with him, encouraging the conversations by telling George he could be open about anything and everything. Whatever it was, he could speak with Terry. Nothing said between them would leave their little bubble.
He eventually began telling George that he loved him like the son he never had and would look out for him no matter what. He even allowed George to have parties at his house with his school friends and told them he would supply the liquor if they were interested. Playing games, horsing around, talking about girls at school – Terry was part of it all. To George and all his friends, he just seemed like another one of the “boys”.
Even at George’s house, the wrestling between them would continue. Terry was always hugging George, tickling him, giving him noogies, poking him – anything that would instigate some type of physical interaction. Did all of this seem a bit strange to George’s Mom and Aunt? Sure – but they both blew if off because they felt Terry was just being a good guy. Plus, they were grateful someone was giving George so much quality time and attention.
As the relationship evolved, Terry would frequently try talking to George about his curiosity and experiences with sex. George would always blush at the thought of talking about a girl and would dismiss the conversations as soon as they came up. “I haven’t even worked up the courage to kiss a girl yet!” he would think to himself. But the conversations persisted. It seemed to be the only conversation Terry wanted to have.
One night, Terry told George’s Aunt he was going to take him to the gym. Although Terry never used to go to the gym before, he insisted that George wanted to go so he could get fit and feel more confident at school. It sounded like a great idea to his Aunt, so off they went. What harm could come from it?
While the two were at the gym alone in the shower, Terry made an advance on George and touched him inappropriately. He began saying that he had strong feelings for George and just wanted to be closer to him. He insisted that George must have felt the same way, too, and it was natural for their relationship to get more sexual. “We’re just having fun, George – there’s nothing to be afraid about.”
While on the ride home, Terry stressed to George that what happened between them in the shower was their little secret. He was to tell no one of what happened, or else their relationship could be in jeopardy. He grabbed George’s hand and made him promise not to say a word. If he did, Terry would have to hurt his mom and his aunt. That’s just the way it worked.
From that point forward, everything changed. George would tense up every time Terry would try to hug him. He didn’t want to wrestle or play around with him anymore. He stopped bringing his friends over to Terry’s house. He hid in his room while the games he used to play collected dust.
But George continued going to the gym with Terry; he was too afraid of what would happen if he didn’t. The abuse continued and escalated even further. His family watched on and never expected a thing, and George remained silent out of fear, feeling that he was protecting the safety of both his family`s and his own life.
Although the family looked past George and Terry`s relationship with no question, there were many signs that could have indicated something serious and inappropriate was happening between them. Of course, much of what Terry was doing seemed to be coming from a sincere desire to help George and serve as a positive influence in his life – and that`s why the signs were so easy to dismiss.
Nonetheless, there were signs that something more serious was happening between George and Terry. If his aunt and his mother were more aware of them, they could have been in a better position to protect George from the ongoing abuse. They could have put a stop to Terry once and for all.
Here are 10 signs someone close to your family might be grooming your child:
Your child might be at risk if you notice someone displaying the following behavior. Red flags missed from Georges story are listed below:
- Paying special attention to the child.
- Buying gifts for the child for no reason.
- Being alone with the child in situations like babysitting, tutoring, coaching.
- Always willing to listen to the child when they need to talk while being sympathetic and understanding.
- Offering to buy alcohol or drugs for the child.
- Spending time with the child while they are showering, or undressed.
- Talking about sex, and making sexual jokes.
- Touching the child in the parent’s presence to make the victim believe the abuse is okay. This can be as simple as a hug.
- The victim doesn’t want to be hugged or touched by the abuser.
- The predator shares common interests with the child that you know they don’t have any interest in.
Had George’s mom or aunt recognized some of these warning signs, they would have been better equipped to protect George from Terry’s advances.
Having conversations with your child about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior between a child and an adult can protect your child and potentially save their life.
If you suspect that someone is grooming your child, you need to stop contact between your child and the potential predator immediately. Alert the proper authorities; if it’s a coach, tell the league. If it’s a teacher, inform the school.
If a child tells you that they have been the victim of sexual abuse, listen to their story and control your emotions. After the conversation is done, write down everything they have told you then call the police to make a report.
Always believe a child when they report to you any form of sexual abuse
Watch out for the signs above and pay close attention to the relationships your child has with people that are close to your family. Your diligence could save them from someone grooming your child for sexual abuse.
Want to join the conversation? Click here!