Grooming opportunities for sexual assault, minimise victim resistance or

Grooming is defined as “patterned behaviour designed to increase
opportunities for sexual assault, minimise victim resistance or withdrawal, and
reduce disclosure or belief” (Exploring
Sex Offender Grooming, 2013).

Grooming is
recognised to have profound physical and psychological effects on a victim, and
may vary considerably from
person to person.

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One of the significant
effects of grooming is that the victim is left feeling shame, often compounded
by guilt, that they were somehow complicit and partly responsible for allowing
the abuse to happen. These feelings can silence the victim, because it fuels
their fear, that, if they were to speak to someone about the assault, they may
not be believed, and others would place the blame on them.

Psychological
effects can include; anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty
forming/maintaining relationships, suicidal behaviour, eating disorders and
sexual difficulties.

It is common for
a victim who has suffered a traumatic experience, to experience flashbacks,
and/ or nightmares. When subjected to a perceived stressor, the human body may
temporarily go into fight-or-flight mode. Usually, once the initial threat has
passed, the nervous system calms down. However, a severe trauma, such as sexual
trauma, can cause the nervous systems to become fixed in a state of high alert (Smith
M.A. and Segal, Ph.D, 2017).

Immediate physical
effects can have direct health consequences, for example, death through suicide
or as a direct result of the sexual violence, internal injuries or sexually
transmitted infections.

The long-term
physical effects of grooming include; unwanted pregnancy, and physical scars from the assault. The victim may
suffer further long-term physical effects from maladaptive coping strategies,
for example, self-harm i.e. cutting themselves; eating disorders, e.g. over
eating, to make themselves appear less attractive, and alcohol/drug misuse.