If you hear the word 'grooming', you will most probably think about you brushing your dog or cat or your own hair and making sure that you are looking good.
Unfortunately there is also another meaning for it and that is 'sexual grooming'. This is where and older person than you or an adult are 'making you ready' to use you sexually in different ways, be it for sex, pornography or any other ways in which they can exploit you for their own benefit.
Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child's inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.
It is so sad that we live in a world where people will take advantage of others, but unfortunately this is a fact, so the more you are informed, the more you can look out for yourself and your friend.
It is possible that you can find yourself in a situation like this, or know about a friend that does. Maybe you are in love with the person who is 'grooming' you and you cannot imagine leaving them, but you have to think about your own well being.
First of all you need to know what a healthy relationship is and how it feels to be in one. If someone really cares for you, they will make sure that your needs comes first and will not put pressure on you or ask for things that makes you feel uncomfortable.
If your gut is telling you that you have to get out and something is not right, listen to it.
If somebody gives you money or a present or drugs and in return they expect sex or sexual favors or nude pictures, it is not a healthy relationship.
You are most probably thinking but that is so easy to spot, how can people get caught up in such a relationship? It can happen that these people (who are very clever) first do all the right things and make your feel cared for and loved. Over time they will change and slowly but surely get you into their 'web of deceit'. Before you know it, you are in so deep, or so in love, you do not see what is going on or can not get out.
Many young people are being taken advantage of, but their need for love is so great that they convince themselves that the other person is doing it all 'for love'.
This can happen to anyone of any gender, race, sexual orientation or back ground, so never think it only happens to girls, or drug addicts for example.
It can happen to you or your friends so you have to be awake and recognize the signs. It can happen in person or even online.
There are a few warning signs that you can look out for, so that you will know you are in an unhealthy relationship
- they will shower you with gifts or money and then start expecting things back
- once they have gained your trust and have you 'hooked' on them, they may pull away and not give you so much attention anymore
- you may get a feeling that you are scared of them or that they have power over you, because they are stronger or older or have more money than you, or even because they are part of a gang that can hurt you
- they never want to meet your parents, they want to see you alone and away from your friends and they will try and convince you it is because they love you and that you need to keep your relationship a secret
- they will tell you many times how you have disappointed them
- if you do not want to do what they ask from you, they will threaten your family or friends
If you are ever in a situation where you do not feel save or feel used and you know that you have to get out,but you are scared or do not know how, you need to speak to an adult as quickly as possible that they can help you.
It is your body, nobody else has a say over it and nobody has the right to hurt you in any way or take away your dignity.
Read more about 'sexual grooming' on https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/articles/what-is-sexual-grooming/