by Aaron Warner
The term “groomer” has thrust itself into the national dialogue since about the middle of 2020 when elementary school educators began outing themselves on social media. It seems the seared conscience of the groomer has been glossed over with a sense of mission and heroism. The people who offer digital monologues filled with triumphal soliloquies about how they are indoctrinating young children of other parents, either don’t believe or don’t understand their role in sexualized grooming of America’s youth.
The halls of human trafficking have been echoing for years with the cries to anyone who would listen that grooming is not just a seedy back alley practice among drug dens and the occasional white collar predator. Those in rescue operations had been hearing first-hand accounts of elite predators from all sectors of society, most notably politics. However the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps due to its standing as a holy body, received the loudest criticism despite sharing the child abuse throne with the power elite. A deeper look into the reasons the church was targeted as public enemy #1 for grooming reveals their role most likely was a set up for a larger plot to destroy it from within, which I’ll get into later in the series.
I may be one of the few experts on grooming in the state of Vermont who is not involved in law enforcement. After I left college in 1996 I worked as a Program Specialist at a group home for highly functioning developmentally disabled pedophiles. After a photojournalistic expose ran in the Oregonian newspaper detailing the horrific mistreatment of patients at the sanitarium in Salem, Oregon, public outcry forced it to close. Patients were grouped into homes based on their needs, and the home where I worked housed five pedophiles ranging in ages from late twenties to mid-sixties, all of them moderately to severely mentally and behaviorally impaired as a result of having been sexually abused as children. My role was essentially as a high-rent chaperone who administered meds, helped with cooking, monitored their television time to avoid watching children, as well as taking them out in public to shop or have activities while also protecting them and children from them.
Add to that I was groomed and molested as a kid on more than one occasion and I have a pretty solid understanding of both sides of the situation. Much of my adult life has had me keeping my thumb on the pulse of the local, national and international grooming and trafficking that goes on, especially after my son was born. Despite my knowledge of the scope and size of the problem it has stunned me how quickly it’s become not just pervasive, but moving toward normalization both in the United States and here in the Vermont side of the Upper Valley.
Grooming is a fairly unsophisticated process once you understand the essentials. Groomers, nearly all of whom are adult age, though teenagers can groom younger children, are first looking for people who are vulnerable. Victims more often than not have a similar lack of getting their needs met at home, so groomers spend their time looking for these types of people. Groomers look for external clues that will open the door to internal probing, which begins the process. Potential victims typically draw the attention of groomers with body language that says they are insecure, unhappy and clothing that communicates either poverty or similar lack of care, however this is not always the case. Some victims lack either characteristic and will be found where groomers shop, eat, or hang out such as online, at clubs, fitness centers, schools, or workplace. Groomers are pathological, so they are virtually always on the prowl and in the process in one way or another. It keeps them engaged and when they are engaged they are getting stimulation similar to a drug addict getting their high. With grooming the chase is as rewarding as the capture.
Grooming doesn’t just target children. Adults can groom other adults, which is in part the reason the human trafficking trade has grown to now outpace illegal arms trafficking and illegal drug trafficking revenues combined. Vermont’s congress recently overturned illegal prostitution in Burlington, thus opening the door to this type of grooming, however grooming has been happening as long as people have been in Vermont and would continue even if laws opposed it. The appeal is not merely money, but power and control.
Another type of adult grooming can be found in cults. As with all types of grooming the goal is to deceive the target into entrusting themselves to the groomer(s) until they are trapped and feel either obligated to stay in the unsafe relationship or afraid to leave for fear of negative repercussions. The Branch Davidians, Satanists, off shoots of Christianity and Islam, secret societies like Freemasonry and even entire countries like North Korea all use the same tactics to attract and capture victims. The grooming stages are:
- Identifying type (age, sex, height, etc.)
- Data collection (personalizing)
- Identifying vulnerabilities
- Desensitizing / love bombing
- Initiate abuse / intimidation
- Devaluing / enslavement
A typical storyline would have the groomer identifying the person based on their appearance or perhaps just the general fishing groomers do when interacting with others. Once they have a potential victim they ask lots of questions and appear to be wonderful listeners. The more they get the person to talk the more they hone in on vulnerabilities. It’s important they are able to spend time with the person through regular contact, whether in person, online or over the phone. As they build trust they begin to desensitize the person through learning and ultimately exploiting their vulnerabilities. For example, a child predator would often spot careless parents while assuming a familial type bond with the child, or a trafficker would be the shoulder to cry on for the neglected teen.
The powerful process of love bombing is what entrances the victim to drop healthy boundaries and give themselves over to the groomer’s schemes. This involves gift giving, quality time, affirming words, generous acts of service and often physical touching. As the relationship intensifies the groomer looks to get the individual alone, then continues to love bomb until they see the opportunity to initiate the abuse. This stuns the victim who has been so overcome with love and trust that they are put into a state of psychological shock which the predator will exploit by returning to the love bombing stage only less so and with strings attached. Children who have been abused will be threatened with the shame of exposure or vague threats of hurting their loved ones. Teens will be strong armed into prostitution often with the use of drugs to keep them numb to their plight. Religious cults, secrets societies and nation states will use the fall from grace, threats of shunning and even death as intimidation and control tactics.
Over time the groomers become the masters as they control the mind games intended to confuse, bewilder, intimidate and enslave their victims.
The next article will identify the new world of grooming being foisted onto Americans through social media, schools and government.
Here are a few accompanying articles and videos that go more in depth.