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I Thought I Could Trust Him: Learn the Signs of Grooming and Manipulation

Last week, MPR reported on the dozens of survivors who have come forward alleging sexual abuse by at least 20 employees at the Children’s Theatre Company from 1980 through 1990. Though this case is shocking in its duration and magnitude of victims affected, the experience CTC survivors have reported is common amongst many survivors of child sexual abuse.

Last year in Hennepin County alone, there were 8,000 reported and screened child abuse cases. At CornerHouse, we provided intervention, stabilization, and healing services for over 500 of these children and families affected by abuse. The demand for our services far exceeds our current capacity.

We know that the best way to combat abuse is to prevent it from happening. In an effort to shed light on how abuse happens, and what to look for, CornerHouse staff examined the grooming practices perpetrators use to manipulate victims and their caregivers.

What is grooming?

Grooming is when someone takes deliberate action to select and build an emotional connection with a child/teen, and often their family, to engage the child/teen in sexual abuse and/or exploitation, as well as maintain the abusive relationship in secrecy.

Grooming behaviors

Befriending, gaining trust
Testing boundaries
Getting gifts or special privileges
Displaying common interests
Filling a need for attention and affection
Threats and Intimidation
Grooming the caregiver

What should you do if you see grooming behaviors?

Listen to your gut and speak up. It should not be solely the child/teen’s responsibility to set boundaries for themselves. If you see someone making a child/teen uncomfortable, or if a child/teen tells you that someone has made them feel uncomfortable, set a boundary for the child/teen with that person:

Visit our website for more caregiver resources, or to help CornerHouse serve more children by donating or volunteering.


I Thought I Could Trust Him: Learn the Signs of Grooming and Manipulation

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