In this first stage of sexual abuse, the sex offender carefully plans how to approach the child. The perpetrator may be: 
  • Father or partner
  • Sibling or another family member
  • Friend of the family
  • Community member known by the child and parents
  • Stranger
The perpetrator must find a way to be alone with the child, and this may require gaining the trust of adults in the child's life. He may engage the child in activities that appear appropriate. However, his intent is to gain the trust of the child so that sexual abuse can occur at a later date. This process is called grooming. Examples of grooming include:

  • Giving the child special attention
  • Giving gifts or money to the child 
  • Taking the child on outings
  • Hugging, kissing, and physical contact
  • Invading the privacy of the child such as walking in the bathroom when the child is using the toilet or bathing 
  • Lying next to the child in bed or sleeping in the same bed (family member)
  • Allowing the child to get away with inappropriate behaviors
  • Talking to the child about things normally discussed with an adult
  • Talking about sexual activities with a child

The perpetrator will then convince the child that the sexual activities are permissible. The purpose of grooming is to create a sense of safety in the child so that he or she is willing to be alone with the perpetrator.   


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