Being “groomed” (a child or minor being emotionally manipulated by an adult in to a relationship for sexual gain) can be a traumatizing experience. However, even once the person being groomed is safe, the emotional troubles still last on. Here’s how to deal with them.
Note: The target audience is an older child or teenager who is being groomed, but this can be applied by parents helping their younger children if need be.
Make sure you’re safe. This may have been handled a number of ways, such as blocking the groomer’s number and social media accounts, getting the police involved, or even moving schools/towns. If you still have to see the groomer or someone else involved regularly, find ways you can prevent that. It is important you let the police and your parents/guardians know about the grooming so they can ensure you are safe as possible. Always follow their instructions.
Inform and protect your friends. A lot of people being groomed tell their friends about their experience, but many keep it a secret or think it’s embarrassing. In reality, you don’t always need to explain all the details but you can still tell people you know in order to keep them safe and bring awareness. It can also be therapeutic to discuss your feelings and quips (problems or personal issues) about the situation and help you move on. Always check that the information you’re spreading is safe for you to do so by asking your parents first what and who you can tell.
Talk it out. If you have a very trusted and emotionally mature friend, you can just let it all out to them. However, if the groomed person is very young, it may not be appropriate to disclose the situation to people their age or discuss it with them. Instead, use a counsellor or therapist.
Write it down. If it isn’t too straining emotionally, it can help to write down the events and how you felt about them. You may wish to keep it as a reference in case something comes up, or you may want to destroy it. It’s like writing in a diary.—It’s harmless and clarifies your feelings and emotions.
Stop romanticizing it. Since grooming is simply emotional manipulation, you may feel a range of emotions including missing your groomer, wanting that attention back, regretting stopping it, and so forth. This is normal but can be dangerous, since you’re more likely to be easily groomed again. Don’t forget how it negatively affected you and how upset it made you feel. It seems grim to dwell on the negative, but overcoming emotional manipulation means knowing what emotions were normal and which were created intentionally by the manipulator.
Find healthy relationships and cultivate them. In some severe cases, the groomed person loses contact with their friends and family. Even if your case isn’t as severe as this, it’s important to allow your friends and family to support you by spending time with them. If you’re a teenager, you may feel wary of romantic relationships now. This is okay and completely normal. Don’t rush in to anything or force yourself, but it can help to have a slow-moving romantic relationship with someone your age so you can learn how healthy romance works.
Take away the things that harmed you and put in things that help you. Many groomers leave the groomed person addicted to drugs or alcohol, or use things like fancy technology to bribe them. It can be important to get rid of these things and help the healing process. If you’re constantly reminded of your groomer when using your phone, it’s not worth it. If you’re left dependent on drugs or alcohol, get help from therapists or hotlines. Once you’ve done this, get productive hobbies that help you carry on with your life. You may want to take up a sport or write music with your friends- anything that can produce positivity.
Reclaim your personality and traits. Some people who have been groomed feel “tainted”, like certain things become weaknesses such as natural kindness or willingness to trust, because they were used against them. Let yourself move beyond this mental barrier and acknowledge that you have a lot of great traits and you have plenty of potential.
Always put your safety as the priority.