Think about all your different relationships.
They could be with close friends, a boyfriend or girlfriend – and maybe groups of friends from school or the area you live in.
As we grow up, we develop relationships with lots of different people. It’s how we learn what we enjoy about a relationship and what we don’t.
But things can go wrong along the way and people might try to use you or force you to do something you don’t want to do.
Some people form relationships with young people to use them for sex.
People who do this want young people to think they are a friend, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. They want to gain their trust to get power over them. They might also use bribes, threats, humiliation and even violence to get power over them.
They use that power to force them to have sex, or do sexual things, with them and sometimes with other people. This is sexual exploitation and it’s a crime.
It happens to boys and girls and can be really hard to spot. Often people think they’re in a good relationship, even after things have turned bad.
But there are warning signs. It’s really important that you know how to spot them so you can protect yourself and your friends.
Please read before watching the below video. The video contains graphic content in regards to sexual assault, child sexual exploitation and murder. Viewer warning is highly advised and the video comes with a trigger warning for the above. If at any point whilst watching the below video you feel that you would like to speak to somebody or need support, please speak to an adult that you trust; whether this be a local police officer, speaking to us on social media, a teacher, a parent or a friend.
Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purpose of sexual exploitation or trafficking. Children and young people can be groomed online, face to face, by a stranger or someone they know. Groomers can be male or female and any age.
Stages of grooming:
- Social media – some examples of social media are Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, twitter, facetime, live chat, skype, messenger and gaming.
- Unexpected friend request – receiving unexpected request off people you don’t know, why do they want to make friends when they don’t know you?
- Exchanging details – mobile number, email/ skype address, home address
- Making you feel special – saying nice things to you, e.g. you looked pretty/ handsome today, I like your hair like that, cute picture, I think you are amazing.
- Observing you – watching and gathering information about you. e.g. your daily routine, time you go to and from school, places you meet friends even your home address and who you live with.
- Common interest e.g. school, pets, hobbies, likes & dislikes.
- Relationship moving on to the next stage– e.g. suggesting to meet up to see what reaction they might get. Seeing if you would agree to meet alone or suggest taking someone with you.
- Feeling looked after - place to stay, someone who is there for them
- Keeping secrets - being told not to repeat certain things and that it is there special secret
- Listening & caring - I understand you, that’s happened to me, I can help, I’ll always be here to listen
- Spending time together this could be online or in person - messaging, live chat, face time, meeting up out and about, going to their house, library, park
- Live online chat - this could be whilst gaming, or over facetime/ skype
Make you feel isolated (alone)
- Your family don’t understand you
- Your friends are just jealous of you
- No one understands you like I do
- Creating independence – making you feel like you only have them and you don’t need anyone else.
- Questioning choice e.g. ‘do you like my top?’ ‘ ermm yeh I suppose, it would look better in blue don’t you think?’
Sexualising the relationship
- Initiating sexualised conversation
- Sharing of indecent images (naked)
- Arranging a situation where they can be alone together
- Talking about sex: - have you ever seen….?, how far have you gone?
- Making false promises
- Withdrawal of love & affection
- Shame/ humiliation
- Addicted to drugs & alcohol
- Fear of removal from the relationship – this is normally threats to end the relationship and other threats in general e.g. if you don’t do X I won’t get you any drink or drugs or a bed for the night.
Worried about a friend? Spot the signs of grooming
- Being very secretive, including online activity
- Have older boyfriends or girlfriends
- Go to unusual places to meet friends
- Have new things such as clothes, mobile phones
- Have access to drugs or alcohol
- Going on more trips and outings than normal
- You can’t tell a victim of CSE by their appearance.
Child Sexual Exploitation
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity. This is in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or disadvantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.
The models of CSE
Inappropriate relationship model
- Usually involves an individual who exercises inappropriate power or control over a young person.
- Someone who is much older than you
- Making you feel like you are in a loving relationship, this then turns into you feeling trapped and used.
- Physically or emotionally gaining control over the things you do.
Boyfriend/ Girlfriend model
- A young man or woman befriends and grooms the victim into a sexual relationship by presenting themselves as an ideal partner.
- They will isolate a young person from their usual friends and support network
- They then force or pressure you into having sex with friends or associates, for social status or financial benefits
- Several young people are invited to a ‘party’, often held at a hotel, flat or bar. Invitations can come through peers, or through social media
- You are offered things such as drugs, alcohol or take away food for free
- Possibly after several ‘parties’ you are then asked to 'pay’ for the things they have been given
- You may be photographed whilst performing sex acts to bribe future compliance
- The fact the whole friendship groups are attending, encourages the image
- This can include sexual exploitation through gang initiation rituals, gang pressure or as punishment for crossing areas/ boundaries.
- It is also worth considering that many gang members can also be victims themselves.
- Young people are targeted through social networking sites, chat rooms, dating sites and instant messenger.
- Relationships built over a period of time
- Encouraged to send sexual images
- Could be encouraged to meet up in real life
- Any photos sent can be used as blackmail for more explicit images or performing sexual acts on webcam
- Any sexual images posted online are likely to be copied onto other websites.
- Victims are trafficked through criminal networks – sometimes within the same town but often between towns and cities. They can be forced or coerced into sex with multiple men and used to recruit other victims.
- This usually involved numerous victims and perpetrators and is most widely reported in the media.
Signs of CSE
- Involved in abusive relationships, intimidated or fearful of certain people
- Go missing from home, care or education
- Hang around with older people, antisocial groups or with vulnerable peers
- Associate with other young people involved in CSE
- Have older boyfriends or girlfriends
- Spend time at places of concern such as hotels
- Do not know where they are as they have been moved around
- Involved in crime
- Have unexplained physical injuries
- Have a changed physical appearance for example weight loss.
Spotting Domestic Violence
Meaning of Domestic Violence - Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: - psychological - physical - sexual - financial - emotional
If you think you are in a violent or abusive relationship you should reach out to family members or friends as they will be able to help and support you!
Useful Links https://leics.police.uk/advice-and-information/victims-witnesses/domestic-abuse
You can also contact the police by visiting your local police station or calling 101. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers, which is free* and anonymous on 0800 555 111. (Put online reporting info)