In this section

  • Overview
  • Signs to look out for
  • Overview

    Grooming is a central part of how people are exploited. It involves building a connection with someone to coerce or deceive them into being involved in an exploitative situation

    • this could be a friendship, romantic relationship or a relationship of dependence in which the groomer provides something that is valued, such as money, gifts or acceptance
    • once they have gained the person’s trust the groomer will try to isolate them and make them feel reliant and dependent
    • coercion, intimidation, force and blackmail may be used to establish power and control
    • people may not recognise that they have been groomed and may not view their relationship as exploitative.

    Grooming is often associated with sexual exploitation but is also present in other forms of exploitation such as radicalisation, county lines, modern slavery and financial exploitation.

    • grooming can happen to anyone of any age and gender
    • it can take place face-to-face, via the telephone, the internet or social media – this includes social media sites, instant messaging and photo-sharing apps, and online gaming platforms
    • online grooming has become significant in forms of exploitation such as sexual exploitation and radicalisation – it allows people from many different backgrounds and locations to be exploited, including those who may not otherwise be at risk of exploitation.
  • Signs to look out for

    Signs that someone is being groomed include

    • becoming secretive
    • isolating from existing friendships and social groups
    • developing new friendships, including with friends met online
    • meeting friends in unusual places
    • developing a strong attachment to a particular individual, who may appear dominant and controlling
    • having an older boyfriend or girlfriend
    • acquiring new items such as clothes or mobile phones, without explanation
    • having access to drugs and alcohol
    • expressing new and strongly-held ideas, values or beliefs.