Why do groomers groom?

With thanks to Wendy Gregory, our counselling psychologist, for her input.

The results are in from the first year of our adult grooming survey, and we’ve started looking at why groomers groom adults. These observations are taken from answers from the victims’ perspectives.

(What’s this about? Find out here: What is adult grooming?)

To understand why adult groomers target their victims, we asked why victims felt that their groomers had targeted them, We hoped to get a sense of when and why people get groomed, so that future targets can put up their guard.

The figures are based on those who responded to the survey.

Bear in mind that there are communities who can’t answer the question for fear or lack of access to computers/wifi – notably who have been/are involved in human trafficking, as an example. Also many people remain unaware that what’s happened to them is grooming. (We’re working to change that!)

But the data does give us a sense of what’s happening – and mostly it’s a need of the groomer that the victim can fill for them. Groomers are ‘bottom feeders’ who take advantage of any situation or need….

Loneliness And Isolation of Target

Whether it’s after divorce, being an eternal singleton or just having moved, feeling lonely and isolated was a repeated theme for many respondents.

This could simply be caused by a house move, or being tied by children, reducing social circles.

Some groomers had targeted people who are self-employed and working alone.

Over time we’ll look into the ways of identifying and combating that vulnerability.

For the moment our advice remains:

  1. “If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.”
  2. Follow your gut. Many, if not most of our respondents sensed that something was wrong, but didn’t want to believe it.

Groomers’ Desire for Power and Domination

A vast number of victims of adult grooming in our survey reported that they thought the groomer had groomed them to gain power or domination, sexual or otherwise.

Often groomers are abusing positions of power, and parents or senior family members, clergy, and academics all got a mention as groomers. We are also aware of groomers in the police force and working for charities. Sometimes the power is derived from simply being much older than the victim, often by decades. These roles offer an air of respectability to groomers that they  should be living up to, not abusing.

Sadly it was noted that some groomers view their grooming as nothing more than a game or a challenge.

Sex? Apparently not

Unexpectedly to many, one of the least occuring answers for why someone was groomed is ‘for sex’.

We agree.

Whilst sex may well be (and often is) part of the grooming act, it’s rarely the underlying reason. Although trafficking someone into sex acts or the sex trade/sex work is clearly to do with sex, for the groomer it’s not about simply getting sex for themselves.

Money, Money, Money

A high number of respondents, people who’ve been groomed, mentioned money or finance as the groomer’s motivation.

Victim’s Access to Information

Anecdotally, we’re hearing from people who organise or show at conferences and events about organised grooming.

So it was perhaps no surprise to see access to information or contacts appearing on the lists of reasons why people felt they were groomed.

Being A Parent

As if parenting wasn’t already a minefield, many people have been targeted because of their children:

  1. With the groomer using them as access to a child
  2. Single parenthood reduces opportunities to meet people, and groomers use this to gain favour

Experiencing Change

When big life changes happen, we are less certain of how things ‘should be’ and often face an emotional and/or stressful wrench. Examples might be a house move to a new area, where we are going to have to make new friends and find out how things work. Alternatively change may be a result of finding your marriage in a mess, or emerging from divorce. Perhaps someone has died.

Such transitions offer rich pickings for groomers, who will often deliberately target people in these situations. The reasons are varied. They may just have the opportunity to catch you while your guard is down – they may simply see a chance fulfil a need their targets have, such as for information, maps, introductions, directions, recommendations.  Anything to close in on them.


In almost a third of responses, victims felt that they had been naive or vulnerable. Some are actually classifies as ‘vulnerable adults’. Most are simply nice and refuse to believe or accept the harsh truths of grooming.

At CAAGe we’d like to change that thinking.

You are not to blame when you’re targeted by someone unscrupulous. We almost all need affection. We ALL have some vulnerability or need. Groomers work hard to find those things: they are the ones who should shoulder the blame, firmly!

Victims Are ‘Shiny Things’ to Groomers

The status of the victim is often appealing to groomers.

Several people mentioned jealousy and revenge on the part of their groomer. Sometimes it’s just because the target is good looking and the groomer is attracted by thought of possessing or parading someone who looks great.

Often, it’s access to money or wealth that appeals.

And sometimes it’s as simple as nationality (see marriage fraud), which, at the end of the day, boils down to the same thing, economic well being.

(See also Wendy’s video on Who narcissists are attracted to.)

Just Remember

When a groomer targets you, it’s because you have something they want. This is where your power in dealing with them lies.

Add your vpice to our Adult Grooming research (survey) here

Read about ‘The Psychology of Adult Sexual Grooming’

Life after grooming: sources of support

Contact CAAGe

Published by Claire (claireatwaves)

Founder, Waves PR To be found as claireatwaves in most social spaces. Helping people's reputations, online and off. Passionate advocate against adult grooming and groomers at CAAGe.org.

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