DVSAS discusses the ‘six stages of the grooming process’ | Guest column

By Kim Bryan

This is the second of four articles submitted by Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Following is a short overview of the grooming tactics used by sex offenders as presented by Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist. For a full discussion visit /www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Child-Sexual-Abuse-6-Stages-of-Grooming.

Grooming is the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy.

The six stages of grooming –

Stage 1: Targeting the Victim: The offender targets a victim by sizing up the child’s vulnerability. Children with less parental oversight are more desirable prey.

Stage 2: Gaining the Victim’s Trust: The sex offender gains trust by watching and gathering information about the child and family, getting to know their needs and how to fill them. In this regard, sex offenders mix effortlessly with responsible caretakers because they generate warm and calibrated attention.

Stage 3: Filling the Need: Gifts, extra attention and affection may distinguish one adult in particular and should raise concern and greater vigilance to be accountable for that adult.

Stage 4: Isolating the Child: The offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special connection. Babysitting tutoring, coaching, and special trips all enable this isolation. Parents may unwittingly feed into this through their own appreciation for the unique relationship.

Stage 5: Sexualizing the Relationship: At a stage of sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the offender progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through talking, pictures, and even creating situations, like going swimming or clothes shopping where there is opportunity for times of undress.

Stage 6: Maintaining Control: Once the sex abuse is occurring, offenders commonly use secrecy and blame to maintain the child’s continued participation and silence.

If you have a question or concern regarding a child please feel free to contact DVSAS 24 hours/7 days: Orcas: 376-1234, San Juan: 378-2345, Lopez: 468-4567

Next week we will discuss tools you can use to keep the kids around you safe.

Kim Bryan is a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate and prevention coordinator