Grooming is when someone forms a relationship with a young person to build trust, and later exploit or sexually abuse them. Exploitation and sexual abuse are when a person/people make you do things you don’t want to do for their own gain, often sexual things. This may happen through physical force, or they may manipulate you financially or emotionally – making you feel as if you have to do things that you don’t want to.
Before the groomer reaches the point of exploiting or abusing, they will spend time forming a relationship with the young person. They will usually want to make them feel safe and like they can trust them. A groomer can be any gender, sexuality, profession, or relationship to their victim. It could be someone you know, even someone like a teacher, parent, or family friend. It could be a stranger who has befriended you either online or in person. It can be literally anyone who is misusing the trust they have built with you.
The groomer may pretend to be the same age as you online and arrange to meet you under that lie, or they may be someone who you know and who seems genuine and ok at first, who will treat you really nicely at first, but who become more inappropriate over time.
Grooming is never ok. Exploitation and sexual abuse is never ok. Being groomed and exploited/abused is never your fault. These are three very important things to remember. If you are uncomfortable with a relationship it is important to speak up or seek advice to make sure you are safe.