Guidance for identifying exploitation

It is unlikely that someone will tell you they are being exploited. They may not even realise that they are involved in an exploitative situation until it has become very serious – grooming and exploitation are often gradual processes, with perpetrators slowly introducing the victim to new beliefs, behaviours and activities to make them seem normal and acceptable.

Instead, things that people say, their behaviour, or something about their personal or social life may make you suspect that they are being groomed or exploited. For example:

  • you may notice signs of harm, such as an injury
  • they may tell you something which suggests they were involved in an exploitative situation
  • they may be reluctant to share such information, or do so by accident
  • they may avoid sharing information about themselves or their personal or social life, indicating that they wish to hide something
  • someone else might share information with you that gives you cause for concern
  • you may have noticed one or more of these common signs of exploitation and grooming.

From observing these things you may suspect that something is not right and feel concerned, but it may be difficult to understand what is going on, and it may not be clear whether someone is being exploited.

In these situations you can use professional curiosity and respectful uncertainty. These terms refer to the need to place your experience, judgement and intuition at the heart of your work