The name of the groomer has had to be removed – legally it’s currently OK for abusers to dupe women into toxic relationships and leave them damaged, to manufacture consent to sex by lying, but not OK to mention them by name, even though it’s very clear we’re not suggesting they’ve done anything illegal. That’s the whole point!
The content on this site is all verifiable – and therefore not defamatory, but the law protects the right for the perpetrators’s feelings not to be hurt by publishing his name (harassment). I have had little choice but to change the name to merely SW. It’s a perfect example of why the law needs changing.
SW has groomed so many women that it’s now almost like a very black comedy. Groomers should be called out. If they think their behaviour’s OK, they should have no problem with us talking about the experience or the pain it causes. If they do have a problem with it, perhaps they should stop.
Let’s be clear – grooming isn’t illegal (yet!), so we’re not accusing groomers of crimes. This site simply points out that that it’s unpleasant, has victims, ruins lives and should, therefore, merit some protection for victims, and a clear message needs to go out that THIS BEHAVIOUR IS NOT OK.
When I was first told I had been groomed, I was sceptical. This was surely just a man who’d broken his marriage vows. Like many women who are told they’ve been groomed, I had a hard time believing it.
He had seemed, in the early stages of our relationship, to love me, deeply. We had seemed deliriously happy, incredibly well matched. I had been, for a short while, certain I’d met the first person who had ever understood me. And that’s, of course, where it starts.
Predatory groomers identify and engage victims, and gain their target’s trust. In SW’s case, he was (and I’ve heard is still) picking single women with children and generally either self employed or in senior roles, making dating – and exposure once victims realise – harder.
In order to abuse or exploit another person without being discovered, groomers persuade victims to keep secrets. To build trust they share private information, and swear their prey to secrecy. (In my case, SW encouraged me to lie about how we met, which later had repercussions – I too had lied, leaving me feeling deceitful.)
Groomers also work hard to break down defences. I was adamant that I wanted a long term relationship, not a roll in the hay. That I am pretty open minded about, and forgiving of, other’s behaviours, but that my own moral code would stop me dating someone else’s boyfriend or husband: ‘do as you would be done by’. I believe that this, to a predator like SW, addicted to the challenge, to the risk, made me exciting prey.
Groomers manipulate their victims until they are rewarded with whatever it is they are after. I suspect that in one instance, getting a victim to sleep with a man within hours of actually meeting him was a massive thrill for SW. But in her reality, in accordance with their seemingly credible discussions and promises, she was already in a long term relationship with him – he, like other groomers, is brilliant at building up that trust. (Just look at the comments of one of his work colleagues at at the end of this article.)
If grooming tactics include charm, overt attention, flattery, charm, gifts, creation of a secret, private World, SW was a class act – although, on reflection, the gifts were a bit thin on the ground. (He had bought previous girlfriends Jimmy Choos. I insist on paying my way – foolishly – and my choice was for apartments rather than flash hotels – I feel somewhat defrauded!) Joking aside, SW was one of the most charming, outwardly gentlemanly, disarming men I’ve ever met – at least the fake one was.
Groomers often claim special connections with their target prey, often echoing back part their target’s own background or story. In my case, SW had worked out from my online profile and our conversations what was going to make me fall for him. He knew from my social profile that I’d had a Patterdale dog – boom! He’d had two. I am looking for a little property to do up – boom! He’d done the same and wanted to help me. He understood my childhood growing up in a military family. We’d both had failed businesses. It went on. It was like a mirror. He may not like his victims, but he certainly understands them and puts on a great performance.
I was love bombed and loved up. He said I was beautiful. I was gorgeous. I was clever. I was funny. I was a loving parent. He was going to back me, help me, support me with my children. (He says that to many of his victims, with children. We shared a set of moral values. I wanted to believe it. He was my dream come true, my perfectly imperfect match.
This is classic grooming behaviour, Predators typically employ attentiveness, sensitivity, and empathy and plenty of positive reinforcement to seduce their victims. They don’t actually feel those things. They use them as tools.
I was SO sucked in that I overlooked and ignored the warning signs, and he ‘gaslighted’ me into believing I was a nasty, jealous individual, fighting my chimps (See The Chimp Paradox). He broke through my defenses, built trust, and kept me n a relationship that defiled my values without me ever knowing until it was too late. (Victims of groomers willingly part with money or assets, do things they wouldn’t normally do, fight battles for their abuser…. for example, I spent days researching to help SW create a job application for a job after being persuaded back into a relationship with him.)
Even now he regularly sends me images through stupid, childish social media posts with boiling bunnies. (Don’t panic, they’re teddies.)
Abusers often use shared secrets to bind their victims to them. In order to abuse or exploit another person without being discovered, groomers persuade victims to keep secrets. They share private information, and swear their prey to secrecy. In my case, SW encouraged me to lie about how we met, which later had repercussions. With one woman he groomed for ten years, SW finally admitted he was married and she moved her entire life to live near him on the pretext that he was leaving his wife.
Victims often feel shame, remorse and disgust at their participation. I’m no different. I felt filthy when I found out.
He told so many lies I have no idea why he groomed me. Perhaps it was money – he knew I had some coming and was talking about entering a financial arrangement. Worryingly, all of his targets seem to have children, although he seems generally to have been fairly good with many of those children. However, he certainly doesn’t seem to have worried too much about the welfare of his own. There were SOME hints at financial reasons, potentially – and certainly chasing his victims through the civil courts for harassment (rather than pursuing criminal charges – could be because the standard of proof in civil courts is lower, or it could be that he stands to gain financially. The only person who truly knows is him, and he’s hardly likely to say, is he?
My own theory is that SW is just a psychopath (based on the Bob Hare psychopath test), and that the risk, the challenge is the thrill. But perhaps that’s only come out of a desire to understand ‘why?’
Predators practice. SW had 30 years, I didn’t stand a chance. But if you want to get into his psyche, we were still in an apparently very loving, very passionate phase of our relationship when I was due out to Rotterdam to spend some time with him. About a week before, he sent me a picture of a gin glass in a bar in a hotel with the words:
“Warming up for your visit.”
How romantic, I though, thinking of me, looking forward to my visit.
I now know that he was with another of his victims in that same hotel when he sent it, saying exactly the same things to her as he had to me, even stealing some of my words to him to persuade her to be there.
Moreover, he took me to that same bar, same spot, lying about who he’d been there with. He was overly familiar with the bar staff – he was taunting them as much as me. It was a repeated pattern. Me being there was a trophy, a win, without me ever being aware.
And that risk, repeated over the course of our relationship, was, I suspect, his thrill.
Please sign the petition to make catfishing and adult grooming illegal: Change.org