CRB checks are now being phased out and replaced with DBS.
On Saturday I updated my training for identifying children and vulnerable adults. I was pleased and surprised that sexual abuse is on the decline. Many of the horrific cases we see in the newspapers are historical incidents.
Unfortunately, financial and emotional abuse is on the rise.
It's mainly carried out by family, friends and neighbours. It's hard to understand how someone will take months and years grooming a victim. I can only guess at the psychology behind their behaviour, the sheer sense of entitlement they must believe they have to take what isn't theirs.
I was expecting the course to focus on spotting victims - mainly children, and what to do if we see something that concerns us.
I was wrong. Much of the course was about protecting ourselves.
Unfortunately, it seems a harsh reality that most volunteers because of their usual giving natures, are possible targets. Listening to some of the stories from the other delegates was certainly an eye opener.
Groomers, abusers and users don't just target children
Most of the people on the course had some experience of someone trying to take advance and some had some pretty horrendous horror stories. It seems that the majority of people are honest. But, alas, there are some people out there who have their own motives and are determined to get what they want.
After hearing how some mature and sensible people have been 'taken in' I decided to share the information I received, if it helps just one person from being taken advantage off it won't have been wasted.
It is hard to understand that a predator will identify and engage a victim and work to gain the target’s trust, break down defences, and manipulate the victim until they get whatever it is they are after.
Abusers use shared secrets to bind their victims to them. By degrees, the target is gradually lured in to revealing private information, giving up money, or permitting /engaging in inappropriate, unsafe, or illegal behaviours.
Who are the victims of grooming?
Men. Women. Children. Young adults. The middle-aged. The elderly. The lonely and the emotionally compromised. Those whose defences are down. Anyone with soft boundaries. In short: There is no prototypical victim. Almost anyone can be vulnerable to grooming. Predators are practiced, and extremely good at what they do. Those who are not, tend to get caught. Those who get caught, tend to learn from their mistakes, and refine their techniques. You don’t have to be especially gullible to fall victim to grooming, but if you learn the signs, you can successfully identify a potential abuser, and avoid exploitation:
Predators work in the shadows, and have something to hide.
Predators claim to feel a "special connection" with their targets, even if they've only just met.
Predators recruit co-conspirators (forced teaming) to fight their battles and do their bidding.
Predators draw their victims in by sharing private information then swearing them to secrecy.
Predators practice divide and conquer techniques in order to manipulate others.
What NOT to Do:
Don't trust too soon, or share too much with someone you’ve only just met.
Don't fall for false flattery, or verbal seduction.
Don’t compromise your boundaries.
Don't allow yourself to be isolated from others against your own better judgment.
Don't blame yourself for how the other person is behaving.
Don't stay in the room if the situation becomes physically, verbally or emotionally unhealthy.
Don't go it alone or keep what you are experiencing a secret.
What TO Do:
Use caution around someone you may have only just met, who pays you too many compliments, gives you too much attention, demands too much of your time, shares too much information, or tries to swear you to secrecy.
Learn to pay attention to your gut, and trust those feelings to guide you.
Remind yourself you are not to blame for what a predator is attempting to do to you.
Learn to say no, and mean it.
And if you do get taken in?
Don't rack your brain trying to figure out why your "friend" did this to you - he or she did it because that's what predictors and con people do. Their minds do not operate in the same way yours and mine do. You can't peek in there and try to make sense of their behavior because you are trying to analyze the behavior of a criminal mind using a sane, moral mind as a base platform.