Warning Signs

Grooming, or getting somebody gradually used to sexual abuse, can take many forms. The majority of the time, a perpetrator is somebody the victim already knows because there is access and opportunity there. This is somebody who is probably already trusted by you and your family.

• Treating you special from others your age. They may offer you special privileges, favors, or even money or presents. It’s nice to receive a present from a friend, but special treatment and attention from an adult can be an indicator of grooming. 

• Telling you that they understand and love you like nobody else can, not even your own parents.

• Isolating you from others, or taking you somewhere just you and them. They may not like you hanging out with your friends or family members, and may act mad when you do see your friends and family. 

• Talking about sexual or private topics with you, like the kind of thing that you would normally only talk with your parents or a boyfriend/girlfriend about.

• Starting to get you more and more comfortable with touching them, maybe first touching your leg, or hugging you, tickling you, wrestling with you, or rubbing your arm. This may border on what you consider to be okay behavior from someone else and may feel uncomfortable. The abuser will continue pushing for more and more contact until sexual touch is happening. 

• Adults do not innocently form romantic relationships with teenagers. The age of consent depends upon where you live. Those under that age do not have the right to consent to sexual intercourse with an adult, even if they agree. It will be labeled a crime. 

• Threatening you to try to keep you silent, or they may say nobody would believe you even if you did tell. 

• Guilt-tripping you, saying something like, “I gave you _______(a phone, a vacation, new clothes, a roof over your head, fill in the blank), you owe me for this”. 

• Saying that you would get in huge trouble if you tell anyone.

• With family members, grooming for sexual abuse can take the form of tickling, wrestling, slapping you on the butt, or kissing in ways that make you feel uncomfortable (Grooming).

“Grooming: Know the Warning Signs.” RAINN, 10 July 2020, https://www.rainn.org/news/grooming-know-warning-signs.