NO MORE week is recognized in March each year (March 5-11, 2023) and is an opportunity for communities to come together and say NO MORE to abuse. Launched in 2013, NO MORE has grown to become the largest coalition of nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, media, schools, and individuals working to address and prevent domestic and sexual violence.
“Sexual assault can take many different forms and be defined in different ways, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault” (from RAINN – Rape, Abuse, & Incest Network). Because it is often the case that the victim, whether adult, adolescent, or child, believes that s/he is to blame for the abuse, many crimes do not get reported. Why would the victim believe that it’s their fault? I can think of a couple of reasons why a victim might feel that way. The first is because they grew up in a household where abuse, neglect or violence were common. The second is less obvious and it is called: “grooming.”
But what is grooming exactly? Grooming involves manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught. While these tactics are used most often against younger kids, teens and vulnerable adults are also at risk. It’s usually employed by a family member or someone else in the victim’s circle of trust (from https://rainn.org/news/grooming-know-warning-signs).
Though grooming can take many different forms, it often follows a similar pattern.
- The victim is selected based on ease of access and perceived vulnerability.
- Abuser will physically or emotionally separate the victim from protectors and gain trust by special attention, secret sharing, and gifts.
- Abuser will touch a victim in ways that begin as apparently harmless such as patting on the back or hugging and escalate to sexual touch.
- Abuser attempts to make the behavior seem natural
It’s important to be alert for signs of “…a relationship that includes secrecy, undue influence or control, or pushes personal boundaries.”
I encourage you to speak up so that we will have communities where NO MORE means exactly that, NO MORE sexual abuse of all people. If you find yourself wondering about the behavior of an individual because it could be grooming, find a trusted Advocate and share your concerns – 928-445-4673.