What IS Grooming?
Calling Trans and other Queer People “groomers” is insulting to actual survivors of real groomers and those who have escaped (or are still stuck in) relationships dependent on coercive control.
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Grooming is NOT what the transphobes and TERFS (or FARTS) want you to think it is.
In the dictionary, grooming is the act or process of preparing someone to fill a position or role or undertake an activity.
You can "groom" a cashier to take over a management position in a store or groom a dog for a dog show.
These definitions are nothing anyone would raise an eyebrow over. However, the OTHER kind of grooming (where people with bad intentions manipulate and coerce others for selfish purposes) has been in the news a LOT lately.
In discussions on grooming, most of the focus is on children, but anyone can be groomed, coerced, and manipulated into an abusive relationship.
Additionally, some people are more vulnerable to coercion and abuse, especially if they were abused in the past (in relationships, workplace, or medical/therapeutic settings) or come from families where coercion and manipulation are standard, normalizing the abuse.
Groomers are predators who can target and exploit vulnerable people into doing things the victims wouldn't normally do otherwise (primarily through coercion and manipulation, but sometimes even physical abuse).
Grooming isn't even always about sex, though sexual predators and sex crimes get most of the attention due to their heinous nature.
Predators (groomers) can pick their victims for various reasons, and may have sexual motivation for their evil deeds, but not always.
Groomers latch onto their victims to take anything they feel the victim can give them (whether it's sex, money, attention, credibility, praise, or any other resource the predator wants).
Conversion and other behavioral "therapies" use coercive techniques to manipulate participants.
These therapies utilize coercion and manipulation to motivate their participants, similar to how groomers and other predators learn and then exploit their victims' hobbies and passions, using those interests to develop a relationship with their victims to gain compliance and control over them.
Be wary of any "therapy" where the participant is not allowed to say "no," where the "therapist" demands compliance or punishes the participant for "undesirable behaviors."
Punishing a child for saying "no" strips them of their autonomy and can have long-lasting psychological effects, leaving them vulnerable to sexual and other types of coercion and abuse throughout their lifetimes.
More info on ABA/Autistic Conversion Therapy
Grooming isn't something that only happens to children.
I've been groomed multiple times (both as a child AND an adult) in various settings.
The people who tried to "groom me" as an adult did so because they wanted something from me that wasn't sex. These groomers manipulated me into relationships with them (from friendships, and business endeavors, to romances) because they wanted a variety things from me.
As someone who's the survivor of more than one long-term relationship with people who used coercive and controlling methods to groom and keep me for their benefit (at the expense of my mental and physical health), I am disgusted by how casually the word "groomer" is thrown around today - especially with regards to trans people.
I'm trans and was groomed but not into thinking I was trans.
I knew I wasn't a woman when I was only four or five years old, but I was groomed (by society) into pretending to be a woman - a title that never fit and always felt like a lie.
The gaslighting and lies of those trying to force me to be something I wasn't (a woman) when I knew inside that I wasn't one nearly killed me.
The coercion and manipulation of being forced to deny the reality I experienced fractured my ability to trust my own judgment, leaving me broken and confused for many years (before learning I was nonbinary).
Learning the truth gave me peace and clarity about myself for the first time in my life, and despite this, people are STILL trying to GROOM ME into becoming a woman (something I'm not and have no desire to be).
Trans and Queer People are NOT groomers. Queer and trans people are just trying to survive.
Because real groomers are everywhere and can pick their victims for any reason, if we want to keep ourselves safe we must know how to spot, identify, call out, and escape from coercive, manipulative, and controlling people.
Predators are sinister, and on the surface, grooming can mimic the ways people show genuine care and affection.
How do I know if someone is trying to "groom" or use coercive control on me?
Grooming in the coercive controlling sense is when a predator targets a victim and then attempts to "befriend" or build a relationship, trust, and an emotional connection with a victim so the groomer can coerce, use, and emotionally manipulate that person over time (often through gifts, lies, and flattery) to entrap the victim in a predatory relationship that only benefits the groomer.
Red flags for grooming may include:
Groomers use giving attention, compliments, or gifts to get a victim’s attention initially, to make them feel special, grow trust. Gifts given may be used later by the abuser as collateral to say the victim now "owes them" or is "ungrateful" if they don't properly appreciate the gift. Predators don't give your gifts because they care about you. They give you gifts because they want YOU to care about THEM.
Predators unwanted advances and contact to push and test a victim’s boundaries. Groomers often will push your limits (especially if they sense your discomfort). This can be unwanted physical contact, touching, and other non-physical contact and boundary violations (such as repeated text messages and phone calls or coercing you into different situations where you feel uncomfortable or the predator can access or exploit you).
Controlling through threats, force, use of authority, or shame - especially if there's a power imbalance (such as with workplaces or therapists and authority figures in adults, or teachers or caregivers if minors) makes the victim afraid of reporting unwanted behavior. Predators may also use shame to convince victims to stay silent. When victims believe they deserve the abuse they're receiving or feel shame about their situation, they're less likely to recognize what's happening to them as abuse, thinking (falsely) that they deserve to suffer.
Using Indoctrination (the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically) to control people.
Seeds of doubt & degradation - predators trap their victims by tricking them into doubting themselves or feeling worthless by convincing their victims they cannot survive without their abuser. Predators may mock, degrade, gaslight, and belittle their victims so frequently the victims begin to question their own sanity.
Isolation and Alienation - to control the narratives in a victim’s mind, groomers will often isolate their victims from others they trust. Predators want to get you alone (where they have complete access to you, and nobody can save you from them). Once victims are isolated, they're less likely to tell others about the abuse they're going through or reach out for help. Be on the lookout for people who speak badly about (or try to make you drop) people in your life who you feel you can trust and care about.
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