What Is Sexual Grooming? | Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP

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What Is Sexual Grooming?

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Sexual grooming is a carefully planned and gradual process used by a predator to sexually abuse a child. The predator methodically take steps to establish an emotional connection with the child to gain their trust and cooperation in order to eventually sexually abuse the child.

The Stages of Sexual Grooming

There are many different types of behavior in which grooming occurs. It is widely accepted that there are six stages of sexual grooming.

Stage 1: Targeting the Victim

The predator targets a particular child. Predators often set their sights on vulnerable children such as those who are emotionally fragile and have less parental oversight. Victims could also be selected based on ease of access. They look for children who are already isolated.

Stage 2: Gaining the Victim’s Trust

The predator gains trust by getting to know the child’s needs and how to fill them. A predator will pay special attention to the victim and make him or her feel special.  A predator may provide gifts, special treats, trips, play games, share secrets, engage the child and/or listen attentively to the child. They get to know the child’s likes and dislikes. For older victims, the predator will provide access to cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

Stage 3: Filling a Need

The predator will attempt to be the sole provider of something the victim wants or needs such as a providing a cell phone, money, rides, food or a place to stay.

Stage 4: Isolating the Child

Once a relationship with the child has been established, a predator will look to be alone with the child. The predator might offer to drive the child to school or a sporting event, take the child for ice cream, babysit, tutor, coach, or a special trip. They may entice the victim to a locker room, an empty school classroom, their car, a secluded park, or an overnight stay.

Stage 5: Sexualizing the Relationship

The predator will often start to push physical boundaries. It starts with innocent touching that eventually leads to inappropriate sexual contact. Subtle moves can include patting on the back, cuddling, tickling, or a kiss on the cheek. Predators will begin to discuss sexual activities or share sexual photos or videos. The predator will gradually increase physical contact and initiate sexualized touching with the victim.

Stage 6: Maintaining Control

Once the sex abuse is occurring, the predator will go to great lengths to maintain control. The predator will use secrecy, blame, and even threats. The predator may blame the victim by saying they wanted, encouraged, or enjoyed it. They tell the victim they will not be believed or they make threats to humiliate the victim to maintain participation and silence.

Reach Out to an NYC Sex Abuse Attorney

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual grooming, contact the New York child sexual abuse attorneys at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP. The compassionate child sexual abuse attorneys at Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP are committed to holding sexual predators accountable. Our firm’s motto is “Don’t Be A Victim Twice”.  If you are a victim of sexual grooming, call 1-800-VICTIM2 (1-800-842-8462) to schedule a confidential consultation. The call is free. The consultation is free. You don’t pay us unless we are successful.  That’s our “Our Fee Guarantee – No Fee Unless Successful!”


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