Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.

Grooming – How Do Sexual Predators Get Into Our Lives?


After posting my story of childhood sexual abuse, I was asked an important question by a concerned parent. How did this monster get into your life?

The answer is both simple and complex. The easy part is that they don’t have the appearance of a monster. They don’t look like some James Bond or Cartoon character villain, with beady eyes, horns coming out of their heads, or a big neon sign saying, “STAY AWAY, PEDOPHILE HERE!” Sadly, they almost always look like everyone one else. The gentle minister, the encouraging coach, the neighbor always willing to lend a hand or the family member who seems to be there just when you need them.

And this is where the complexity comes in. How do you distinguish genuine care from pure evil? While there are no set in stone answers, there are some clues to look for and ways to evaluate what is going on. And though nothing is fool-proof, I hope it’s at least a start for you to help figure out friend from foe.

One of the most frightening things about pedophiles/sexual predators is that they seem so “normal”. They are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and like-able. And they target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies. But don’t ever forget, pedophiles are professional con-artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them. They will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

So let’s first define exactly what grooming is and then we will go into the steps involved.

Erika Lyn Smith, of the “Missing And Exploited Children Site”, gives a thorough explanation of what we are talking about.

The act of grooming a child involves spending time, energy, and money to make a child and even the parent or parents feel comfortable with the relationship. Only after a trusting relationship is established will the child predator start to become more intrusive and to test the boundaries of the relationship by pushing limits. These violations may include hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, and invading a child’s privacy while showering, dressing or toileting.

Initially a pedophile will begin to violate the physical boundaries, by accidentally touching the child through his or her clothes to see what kind of reaction he or she receives. If a child or parent questions the action the predator will likely back off and regain the trust of the child or parents before proceeding.

By befriending the parent or parents, the pedophile gains the trust of everyone in the family. Children are less likely to tell when the relationship turns sexual if the adult is someone he or she knows personally or is a friend of mom or dads. In addition, mom and dad may be less likely to listen to a child when it involves a good friend of the family.

Single parents, especially mother’s will be looking for a positive male role model if there is no father involved. Single mothers are more likely to accept offers from a child’s coach or school for help when offered. All parents needs to be vigilant when it comes to allowing someone access to his or her child, and question friendships or relationships that take up a lot of a child’s free time.

Signs that a pedophile may be grooming your child include:
• Telling a child, he or she is a “special” friend
• Bringing a child special mementos or gifts
• Talking to a child about adult issues like sex or marriage problems
• Giving a child alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
• Inviting a child to spend the night or go camping

A former F.B.I. agent named Kenneth V. Landing wrote about 5 steps he identified as the general process most sexual predators use in grooming children to be their ext victims. Below you will find this listed.

Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim
Although pedophiles differ in their “type” regarding age, appearance and gender, all pedophiles will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.

Stage 2: Collecting Information
The next step is for the pedophile to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with both the child and the parents or caretaker.

Stage 3: Filling a Need
Once the individual has the information he needs, he then becomes part of the child’s life by filling a need. If the victim is poor, for example, the pedophile will provide him/her with expensive toys. If the victim is lonely, the pedophile will act as a friend.

Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions
The pedophile will then start to lower the child’s inhibitions concerning sexual matters. He may come up with games or activities that involve getting undressed, make sexual comments or show the child pornographic images or pictures.

Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse
At this final stage, the pedophile begins to sexually abuse the child.

Another technique used by these predators is called the 4 “F’s”.

Friendship, Fantasy, Fear and Force.

“Friendship” is built through nurturing a relationship through bonding. The adult will usually give the child gifts, take them on special outings and show them a lot of attention.

Once a child trusts an adult, the adult can influence the child’s attitude regarding sexual behavior. Grooming may include introducing sexual content to the child as an example of what the perpetrator desires and to give the impression that the depicted acts are acceptable. If the child thinks that sex between children and adults is ok, it’s easier for the pedophile to victimize the child.

Then they will introduce “Fantasy”. They will manipulate the child with a false sense of security. They will pay a lot of attention to the child’s problems and personal matters and offer advice and counseling. They will tell the child how much they love them and that they want to have a long term, loving relationship with them.

Once the child has opened up to the pedophile, they will begin to instill “Fear” by threatening to share the child’s secrets with their classmates or their parents. Sometimes they will even threaten the life or safety of the child or of their family and friends It’s all a manipulation tactic to get the child to do what the pedophile wants them to do.

Ultimately, the pedophile uses “Force” to sexually exploit the child.

While these are by no means the only ways sexual predators work their way into ours and our children’s lives, they are at least a beginning place for parents to be on the lookout. The more information you have and the better educated you become, the more you will be able to best protect your kids.

Knowledge truly is power and we cannot give over our power to these heinous criminals. They will use every trick in the book so you have to know what they’re doing. Even more frightening, pedophiles and sexual predators work together to help each other figure out ways to gain access to our kids. Don’t believe it, read this article about a 170 page, “How To” publication put together by and for adults who prey on innocent children. They are making a concerted effort to help each other so we have to be more vigilant, more active and tireless in our work to combat these predators.

I hope this is a good start on helping you to protect your children. God knows I wish my family had been told this when I was a child. Maybe they would have been able to stop my abuse before it began. So please take a page from our family history book, educate yourselves and talk with your kids.



Kenneth V. Lanning, Special Agent, F.B.I.

Erika Lyn Smith

America’s Most Wanted


Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal

Author: Together We Heal

In 2006 David took the first step in a long and painful journey back from the abyss of addiction and self-destruction. He promised his dying father that he would get clean. And he did. But as he cleaned his body and soul, he began to confront the sexual abuse that his addiction had for so long obscured — abuse perpetrated by a church youth minister when David was 12 to 15 years old. Those three years of abuse destroyed the foundation of love and faith that had been built by his family. For 25 years, David kept the abuse secret and lost himself in a fog of drugs and alcohol. He was by turns destitute, at times incarcerated. The promise to his dying father was the catalyst. And the bedrock of his mother’s love and devotion was the foundation on which David rebuilt his life. Therapy, 12-step meetings, and soul-deep determination were the bricks and mortar. David founded Together We Heal to provide fellow survivors and their families, guidance through the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. In 2015 he was asked to become a part of the Child Safeguarding Initiative team with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse. David represents Together We Heal & GRACE across the country as a public speaker and instructor; teaching churches, schools, and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior, and how to properly respond to those harmed. "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” - Dr. Seuss

39 thoughts on “Grooming – How Do Sexual Predators Get Into Our Lives?

  1. Reblogged this on Join The Dots Campaign and commented:
    please read & share, valuble information to help protect children, though also the internet and easy access to children through chat sites, does away with the need to gain parents’ trust. Though many now are aware that they could be caught out by some that spend time pretending to be youngsters. Though a few do this in ways not to be encouraged, Stinson Hunter is one i have watched for quite a while, and have been impressed with how he applies legal knowledge and self control, so that quite a few have been both reported in the press, and also convicted. Though some of our team disagree with all naming and shaming, and i too have witnessed how this can lead to whipping up hate fests, it has also been through naming before convictions even at times that many have needed to resort too, only because of the reluctance of those in power or with influence, to really tackle the abuse of children, or for society generally to face it within their midsts.
    I also know that many that can, are clearing the darknet of the most vile images of children being raped, tortured, and shared, and the good ones, collect the evidence, pass it to the relevant authorities and then take down the site………… Right now more pressure is being brought to bear to control the net in terms of access to pornography and images described………. This is surely now beyond question, and it surely could have been prevented, with those with power adopting a willingness to make child protection the number ONE ISSUE. But was it even on either the Bilderbergs or the G8 agenda ?
    We have different ideas, skills, and abilities to tackle this, there is so much still needed, i applaud all who are doing what they can, and encourage others to open their eyes and ears, see the truth being shared, so massively now, by so many brave victims and survivors, and lets help effective help and healing to flourish too……………. there is a niche for everyone to do their bit, also within communities, wherever you are….within or without the system and professions meant to care and support and protect children and their families, anyone with influence, anyone with contact with children, anywhere, everywhere.


  2. Pingback: Stratégie des pédocriminels pour piéger les enfants « GLOBAL RELAY NETWORK

  3. here is a tragedy that just happened over teh past cpl of days and the links to the story:

    A sweet 8 yr old girl kidnapped, raped and killed here in Jacksonville, FL. Very sad. because he befriended the child’s mom with a promise to buy the child a dress.

    May that child now be in Gods hands ……


  4. This is all very good advice, the only point I think should be made is that you speak as though all pedophiles are predatory on more than one occasion. Perhaps you should call those you speak of what they are – child molesters. If we don’t distinguish the difference between somebody’s orientation and their behavior, we run the risk of subconsciously telling young people that as adults people can’t resist behaving inappropriately, and by suggesting this, many young people may turn to drugs or drink when they realize that nobody would have faith in them either.
    More discussion with young people is needed, not bigotry. All pedophiles were once children themselves. If we don’t create a climate where troubled children feel safe speaking, that they won’t be seen as monsters by default, more useful intervention can take place earlier. Which is what we want right? Just my two cents. I’m sorry I’ve had to remove you from my newsletter for the time being at least. Best wishes.


    • I found it interesting that you consider it bigotry for calling out pedophiles for their criminality. On that we will have to simply disagree. And the fact that you have removed me from your mailing list only says to me you are not as “open” to education and discussion as you say you are. The only way to learn is to hear what others have to say, not just what you “want” to hear. Which is why I still posted your comment. I don’t agree with you but I believe you have the right to your views, even if I disagree with them. Best of luck to you.


      • I’m not talking about criminals, I’m talking about people who love children, obviously. It’s not a criminal offense to be merely attracted to children where you live is it?
        Nobody is born a criminal. By stereotyping everybody of an orientation as criminal you run the risk of preventing young people of that orientation feeling safe to come forward and seek the right advice. They’ll instead look online and that could lead them down dangerous paths.
        Some people don’t believe that people are born with their sexuality but the sad reality is that people can’t choose who they fall in love with. The only choice people have is how they behave, as a result of those feelings.
        After all, the thousands of convicted rapists of women don’t result in all heterosexuals being tarnished as dangers to women. Do you see what I’m saying?
        I removed you from my mailing list because it was set up for people who feel very isolated in life to find support. The last thing people need is to see phobic posts on how to suspect good men of having sinister motives.
        It’s ironic you say I’m not open to education when I’ve studied this subject for years. Until we have an unbiased sample of the pedophile population (ie. not made up of convicted sex offenders), we’ll not get the facts, so please stop giving them more incentives to stay in the closet about who they are. This puts them at risk, and ultimately children too.
        I agree with the majority of your piece but please refrain from sweeping generalizations, it really isn’t fair on law abiding people who haven’t chosen to feel the way they do.
        Using the right terminology will go along way to helping teenage pedophiles feel safe to come forward instead of feeling ashamed and, no doubt, suicidal.
        The suicide rate among teenagers is high and we must try a different approach if we want to reduce this.
        All the best.


      • Hi josh,

        Rather than this becoming an online discussion about how our views differ (which I simply do not get into), I will allow our respective words to stand on their own merit and permit the readers to draw their own conclusions. I truly wish you all the best on your path.


  5. No problem! You’re not the first person to make this mistake and probably won’t be the last. I look forward to seeing you adopt appropriate terminology in future posts so as not to penalize those good men (and women) in our communities who are not acting on their attractions. Let’s encourage them to stay in the light rather than drive them further underground.
    Thank you for all your good work.


  6. Reblogged this on Pedophiles – The Rape of Innocence and commented:
    great post from a healing blog.


  7. I’m concerned about my grandchild who is 2 years old. I’ve just met my daughter’s new boyfriend and he’s very attentive to my grandson. He changes his diaper all the time, hugs, kisses, holds his hand and plays with him a lot. These all should be good signs I’m sure, but it creeps me out for some reason. They’ve been dating about 5 months & he’s just moved in with her. He’s never been married or had children. He was also very attentive to my daughter, hugging, kissing & giving back rubs while I was present. I was watching him especially since I am concerned about my grandson. A couple of times when he came up behind my grandson and said hugs, my grandson cringed and whined Mommy. I looked at him & he at me and walked away from the child. Am I just crazy or what? I have no idea how to approach my daughter about this. She thinks this guy is great because he pays so much attention to her son, where his own Dad didn’t. Any advice??


    • Hi Brenda,

      It has always been my experience to go with your instincts. I would suggest taking her aside and gingerly bringing to her attention all of the things you have mentioned and then show her the articles we referenced here. Show her that he is showing some signs that need to be watched more closely. Especially because they moved in so quickly and he’s showing all of this attention so quickly…it’s simply not normal. While he might be a great guy you have EVERY right to protect your grandchild. Please let me know if I can be of any help in assisting you with broaching the topic w your daughter. I will be more than happy to help. You can email me directly at



    • Brenda I found something that I think might help. I’ll email it to you now. Please let me know your thoughts on it and if you might find it useful in talking with your daughter.



    • Brenda, our email address has changed and I wanted to make sure you had it –


  8. merci David pour ce site internet , qui ouvre bien nos yeux de parents face à cette réalité si horrible et si pres de nous tous…merci encore…


  9. When I think about where I was and how God rescued me and brought me through all of my pain and misery, I want to help as many people as I possibly can to have hope and believe what God can do for them. If you’ll trust God to write a beautiful story through your life, you’ll find purpose in your pain as God takes your mess and turns it into His message. My motive in telling my story is not for you to go out and buy my book or feel sorry for myself. I’m sharing my story because many, many people have been through similar struggles. God wants to share my story so you may be restored by God’s mercy and grace. I’m living proof. To learn more about The Little Girl Inside, go to my Facebook and click on the link…I have a dream to be a voice for all these innocent people.


  10. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something
    to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.

    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon.
    Many thanks


  11. Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this paragraph i thought i
    could also make comment due to this sensible


  12. Josh wrote “It’s not a criminal offense to be merely attracted to children where you live is it?”
    I Have spent many years listening to the bantering of pedophiles “weasel clausing” their (reasons) for sexual attractions towards children, Josh’s insertion of the word “merely” is his attempt to downplay and normalize the sexual attration towards children is classic. These guys are not rocket scientist and I can usually spot them online in 3 sentences or less. Maybe I am just jaded by these deviants??


    • Hey Valerie, you are absolutely, positively 100% correct! I didn’t realize you were commenting on those comments from josh. The only reason I leave his remarks on here are for people to see just how sexual predators/pedophiles think. Since part of our mission is to raise awareness on all matters of CSA, I thought it beneficial to shine the light on evil people like him. If you notice I didn’t allow him to bait me into further dialogue about it. Thank you for seeing him for what he is and those like him.


      • I have a blog also that I allow many comments from these people to post. I want people to see the depths and rationale they will go to for validation. Pedophiles gravitate to groups as yours to take the tempertaure of those participating. Its also where they garner the opportunity to “Look” for those who will engage in their bantering and seek any sentence that will validate their “feelings” towards children. That and of course the undercurrent of “keyboard taunting and revictimization” of those who they view as vulnerable. Thus the term pedo-speak.


      • Thank you for bringing your insight and comments to us. As I posted last week, it’s all about cooperation between groups that will enable us to better help those in need and protect children from these monsters.


  13. My first participation in your group was to highlight the various groups who also want validation and acceptance for their “loved ones” actions. They are the wives, mothers, girlfriends and family members of convicted sex offenders/predators who consider “themselves” the true “victims” and have long since convienantly forgotten how or why their family members and or even themselves earned their place on the registry. We have a term for them “minutemen” they spend the entire day and night landing on any article that profiles stronger repercussions and or harsher treatments for these crimes attempting to convince the public they and or their loved ones were over-porsecuted and unfairly targeted. They especially target groups as yours due to the sheer disdain they have for victims at this juncture. Most people are not aware of WHO they are or their motives. When I found your group the other day I thought it prudent to make your members aware of who they are and their motives for doing what they do. I also wanted to stress, they are not entirely without an audience. In south Florida the Pro-offender diva who gets plenty of ink-time is Gail Colletta of the Florida Action Committee. She and I are not exactly friendly.


  14. PS scroll down Josh ForeverAsking (@ForeverAsking)
    twitter page (will link when you click his name). Read where he is posting and WHO he is posting too. That ladies and Gentlemen is how Predators/pedophiles Get to our kids.


  15. Hi Dave,

    As always thank you for this priceless information. I do wonder about the actions of the novice or beginner who may not be these acts out of sexual desire but as a means of control or implementing compliance. Do you have any sugfestions?


  16. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this site needs much more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the information!


  17. Pingback: GROOMING – HOW DO SEXUAL PREDATORS GET INTO OUR LIVES? | Abdulazeez Henry Musa's Blog

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  19. Pingback: Stratégie des pédocriminels pour piéger les enfants – Dominique Ferrières

  20. You made a few good points there. I did a search on the issue and found the majority of people will agree with your blog.


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