What is "Grooming"?

Grooming is the process a human trafficker uses to identify and ultimately control someone for the purpose of trafficking them. While there are several different methods and strategies by the traffickers, there are generally six key points to grooming: 

  • Targeting the Victim... individuals that seem lonely, distraught, express low self-esteem, or appear to be in financial hardship.

  • Gaining Trust... traffickers will appear to be the only person that cares, listens, understands, and makes time for the victim

  • Meeting Needs...traffickers will appear to have the answer for everything in the victims life. Attention, affection, money, a place to run to, etc.

  • Isolation...traffickers want to be the center of the victims world. They will often suggest only communicating when the victim is alone, or at night. They will also enable and encourage the victim to distance themselves from family and friends that have wronged them or "don't understand you like I do".

  • Exploitation...the trafficker begins to expose the victim to acts they may not be comfortable with. At this point and going forward, the victim may begin to feel that this type of expectation from the trafficker is now "normal" or that they now "owe" the trafficker.

  • Maintaining Control...it is just that. The trafficker will continue to deepen the "relationship" and/or "debt" to maintain psychological control. Often times, drug addictions enabled by the trafficker or the fear of the unknown are enough to keep the victim cooperating with the traffickers demands and "new norm".