BY: Sommers Schwartz | IN: Clergy Abuse
Sexual grooming takes place over time. The sexual predator will build trust with a child or adult over months or years in order to eventually abuse them without them necessarily realizing that they are being sexually exploited. Sexual groomers are very good at identifying their victims, often targeting children, teenagers, or adults that are particularly vulnerable (i.e., prior histories of sexual abuse, absentee fathers, abusive homes, and those living in poverty).
Maybe one of the most notorious sexual groomers in recent years was Dr. Larry Nassar of Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. Dr. Nassar was described as charming, helpful, sweet, considerate, and kind by his victims. He had groomed hundreds of young athletes to believe that the sexual assaults he was perpetrating upon them during their physical exams were necessary for them to achieve full physical strength to compete in their sports. He would give his patients token gifts he had obtained while attending the Olympics, shower his victims with compliments and sometimes even give them sweets when their athletic coaches would keep them on a restricted diet. Even after Dr. Nassar was arrested in September 2016, many of his victims could not come to terms with the abuse they suffered. They had been groomed to believe that everything he did to them was for their benefit and not an assault. Even many of their parents could not come to terms with it.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, please contact Michigan sexual abuse attorney Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller for a free, 100% confidential consultation.
There are certain red flags you can look for in a potential sexual groomer and also signs in your own child that may indicate they are being sexually groomed.
In terms of identifying a potential sexual groomer, he or she may seem overly interested in your child, may try to find ways to be alone with your child more often than usual, and may offer to give your child rides to and from school or other activities, buy them lunch or dinner, and give them gifts. If the child is very young, the sexual groomer may show an abnormal interest in connecting with the parents as well so as to groom them into trusting them alone with their child.
As the sexual grooming progresses, your child may tell you that the suspected groomer walked in on them changing or going to the bathroom, bathed them, shared “secrets” with them, photographed or videotaped them, was naked around them, or engaged them in a “tickle torture” or wrestling-type activity. If your child tells you about any such occurrences, you should be on alert.
Unfortunately, sexual groomers can be just about anyone. They may be strangers, but often are family members, friends, teachers, co-workers, doctors, priests, or other members of the community. Oftentimes, the groomer will not only groom their eventual victim but also those close to the victim to believe that they are a “good person” that can be trusted. That way, if the victim does ever have the courage to speak up about the abuse they suffered, they are not likely to be believed.
Grooming can happen in person or online. These days, we see a lot of grooming that occurs over social media or even dating apps.
Grooming does not occur in a short period of time. The sexual predator has to take the time to form a deep bond with their victim. There are, however, typical stages of grooming that we see in our case:
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, experienced sexual assault attorney Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller is here to listen to you. Your call is free, 100% confidential, and with no obligations. Ms. Esser-Weidenfeller is here to listen to you, believe you, and walk you through your options in the civil justice system to receive justice and potential compensation.
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