Anna Rowe: Petition Against Grooming and Catfishing

In my search for existing support for adult victims of grooming, I came across the story of Anna Rowe.

Anna was the victim of a very specific type of grooming: catfishing.

She was duped by a married man using a false photo and name on Tinder, and is – like this campaign –  calling on government to take action. AnnaRowe was groomed by a man who used the name Antony Ray, but this smart, intelligent single mum eventually learned learned that her lover, who had even discussed marriage, was not only using a false name, but was a London lawyer with a wife and children.

He was also having relationships with other women – at the time she wrote her story, 11 over a ten year period. You can read her story here:

Continue reading “Anna Rowe: Petition Against Grooming and Catfishing”

The Effects of Grooming

Even though it is written in South Africa, this article link goes to a description of grooming that is among the best I’ve seen so far: Adult Grooming.

When I first found out I’d been so utterly duped, initially I was in denial. I still screw myself in knots asking for the reasons ‘why?’, and ‘why me?’

My initial post on Facebook (exposing my abuser, as a married man) was accompanied by an acceptance of the situation.

Whilst I was initially relieved that the relationship had ended (no more broken promises of trips to Paris, last minute changes in plans, or manipulating me into being places), discovering out that my groomer had lied about where he lived, and who with, cut through me. I’m pretty ‘live and let live’, but my own moral compass stops at dating married men or men seeing someone else: “do as you would be done by”. These are values he professed to share – values he used against me, to lure me in.

When the truth about his utter duplicity and lack of morality or humanity emerged, I broke. I couldn’t believe what was unfolding before my eyes. Anger turned to hurt and humiliation. This convincing trickster had made me feel strongly for him before we’d even met. (I’m not even convinced it was him I was talking to when we first met, he changed so much.)

My intelligence is clearly questionable. I feel unlovable. I can no longer trust anyone, even friends. One lie – even a tiny one – can throw me, make me question. I have changed from an open exuberant person to one with as much exuberance but not yet ready to be around people.

I’d had already had a tough couple of months anyway. Dad had been diagnosed with fibroids* on his lungs – a short life expectancy and probably only six months from diagnosis before he needs a ventilator. I was also undergoing tests for ovarian cancer, with each stage coming back as cause for concern.

Although I’d initially felt that I loved [groomer] enough to end our relationship if I had to go through cancer treatment, he started telling me he had an immovable cough and that he was being tested for prostate cancer – his father had, apparently died at his age of the disease.  And so I told him. A few days before my birthday. Which he wilfully forgot, despite having promised us a romantic trip to Paris, to a place I now know he’s promised others as well, and has doubtless been to at some point with another woman.He vanished for the day, ghosted me completely, giving me some paltry excuse the following day. Heartless.

This shock capped it.

I put £15k aside for a trip to Dignitas and started putting my affairs in order so as not to leave my children with problems. It was as much as I could do to get out of bed in the morning. It was more than I could do to shower some days. The more I tried to function, the worse it got. I was fighting off comments, reminders, humiliation. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to be here.

It passed after a lot of exercise and thinking things through. I’m a strong intelligent woman. I needed to fight back. That fight merely earned me a Police Record for Harassment. and a threat of legal action from a former employer of his

(And now a civil case for harassment, merely for trying to protect others.)

Once I could face the shower again, I scrubbed myself. Hard. If I could have taken off a layer of skin I would have. I scrubbed a little more. And more. I had inadvertently had unprotected sex with a man who has clearly been grooming women for years. I scrubbed a bit more.  I had inadvertently broken my own moral codes. I felt dirty and used. I scrubbed some more. But I had a nasty discharge – smelly, yellow. He had almost certainly given me an STD. I scrubbed some more.

I screamed at the kids. I cried in the shower. I was ratty with people. All of which made me feel worse. I scrubbed some more.

When the time was right, I took myself to the STD clinic at the Royal Berks Hospital for testing. For three months I had waited, hurting and afraid, for the last tests to be possible.

I can’t speak highly enough of them. It’s tough and humiliating to admit that I had to go there, but without talking about it, we get nowhere. I was frightened and faced it alone. The Walk of Shame.

They were lovely. Really helpful. Matter of fact. Busy. Anonymous. (Go there if you’re ever in doubt. Don’t wait.)

I did have an infection. But not one Steve had given me directly. All that scrubbing had knocked my system out and created an infection. It took two lots of antibiotics and some internal creams to get rid of it. I don’t want to admit to it, you don’t want to hear it. We’re all embarrassed. But that’s what grooming caused. I need you to understand.

That fine, upstanding, Naval Officer had pretended to be my boyfriend to my dying father.

Had duped me into breaching my own moral code.

Challenged my beliefs.

And I doubt I’ll ever trust anyone in a relationship ever again.

So I need something good to come out of this. Really need it. I thought at first it was getting him to admit his problem and get help. That won’t happen. He’s a coward, arrogant.

He’s used technology and the law to ensure that blogs about him won’t be found. So exposure with no press is going to create an issue.

I was lucky. I’m strong. I’ve two beautiful sons to live for, a family. Others may not have my ability to bounce. I urge you to take a write to your own MP to call for a change in UK Laws to protect victims of grooming.


*I’ve left this is, but my father has fibrosis, not fibroids. It has become a family joke that his next operation will be a hysterectomy. He’s an 80 year old man!

The Gap in the Law: Rape by Deception

Until 2003, groomers in the UK would have been guilty of gaining sex under false pretences. This law was abolished leaving their victims largely unprotected.

As I understand it, the law that would have covered this, Rape by Deception, was limited by a high court judges’ ruling in 1995 (R v Linekar), where only three conditions allow an act to be considered Rape by Deception:

  1. pretending to be someone of the opposite sex
  2. pretending to be someones husband/wife
  3. deliberately passing on HIV

This obviously needs challenging. (Please note that this law is applied differently in different countries.) It is not only leaving groomer’s targets with no protection, it is particularly worrying for gay and trans communities.

Back to grooming: I was absolutely explicit with my groomer before we entered into a sexual relationship.: I would never willingly sleep with a man who was married or seeing someone else (he was both – current count is five simultaneously and a history of 30 years abusing women.). I needed to know that he had a clean bill of sexual health – he promised he hadn’t had sex for years. (It has since emerged that the truth was more like hours at the time we discussed it)He also claimed to have had a recent check to join back with the Royal Navy Reserve. He repeatedly noted to me the lack of morality in affairs and promised he wasn’t married. As far as I’m concerned, any sex has been rendered entirely non-consensual – I would never have consented knowing the truth.

Thames Valley Police were brilliant and checked whether the’Rape By Deception’ law could be applied. It apparently can’t. Men and women who get duped into relationships like this have no legal comeback at all. Offenders remain free to re-offend as many times as they like. It is, after all, ‘only sex’.

Except it’s not. It’s life ruining, horrendous behaviour with serious consequences for all of its victims and the people around them.

Please note that this article was written in the very early stages of this blog. It has been amended to avoid any further abuse from the originally named groomer, and I would highly recommend legal advice before taking the information given here, as it is not written by a legal specialist.

The Gap in the Law: Harassment

The bar for harassment is very low in the UK. I used to think that this was a good thing – subjects would be believed. But now I’ve come out on the wrong side of it, and the law has a massive gap!

Anyone can walk into a police station with two pieces of (verifiable) information, say they don’t like what’s been said or done, and report someone for harassment.

This is what the weasel who groomed me (sorry, unable to use the term ‘man’) does to his victims when they they tried to expose him. He is not alone

I received this letter from Hampshire Police (which I now understand is a PIN, do read other articles on this blog.)

Hampshire Constabulary has received an allegation from [name removed to protect the abuser] that you have engaged in conduct that amounts to harassment. [I had named him and tried to find out was happening, and tried to warn a school that he was working with about his suitability to offer moral guidance.] . This letter is to formally bring your attention to the complaint received on 15 June 2018. I must advise you that if you continue with this conduct you may be liable to arrest and prosecution under the protection from Harassment Act 1997. The maximum penalty on conviction for this offence is imprisonment. . We accept your own account of the circumstances may differ however evidence supplied by various parties during this investigation does support the harassment allegation made by [abuser]. . However I advise you do not engage any further with [abuser] directly or indirectly as this contact (by any means) is unwanted. . Do not engage in any conduct which could amount to harassment. This includes engaging in contact with his family, employers, professional colleagues and friends. I advise you remove any information you have placed/shared on any social forum (social media) that is defamatory [there’s nothing defamatory in telling the -provable – truth!] or that could constitute an offence under the Communications Act 2003 or Malicious Communications Act 1988. . For your information there is evidence to support this allegation of harassment which could be used for prosecution purposes in the future. If any further harassment conduct is reported I must advise you that you could be liable for both past and future actions, should you so persist. . This matter is recorded on our database and evidence has been secured. . After careful consideration and consultation with THE VICTIM [My capitals!] it has been decided that no formal action will be taken against you in the matter on this occasion.

The law was on his side.

When I asked Hampshire Police for details on what information had been given to them, this is what I received:

The letter sent to you was advice and to make you aware of the complaint made. No formal action has been taken or is intended to be taken at this time. The police, as you can appreciate and I am sure you are aware have a duty to record all crimes/matters reported as per Home Office guidance. Whilst some evidence has been supplied by [abuser] and his family this cannot be shared with you in its entirety as if any further complaints were to be forthcoming this could be detrimental to any considered investigation/criminal process in the future. Disclosure of evidence is only given to a solicitor either prior to or during interview when formal action is being taken. I can confirm the report received is in relation to alleged harassment conduct. The allegation is that contact has been made with various associates of [abuser]. By various means of telecommunications. Social Media has also been used. To reiterate this is being dealt with by way of advice only (letter) and no formal action will be taken. The matter will now be filed/closed here in Hampshire. I note in your email the effect you state this relationship with [offender] has had on your emotional wellbeing.< If you are feeling unwell, depressed or suicidal you should seek medical assistance from your local GP or any other local medical facility that can assist. In an emergency call 999 and seek emergency medical care. . I attach a link that may be of help. You can call the SAMARITANS free from any phone any time on 116 123. .

Case closed.

My groomer has a known record for faking emails and evidence, and from the information given is clearly unable to tell the difference between his targets.

The law offers him protection, but criminalises me for speaking out.

This blog post was amended in January 2019 to reflect a new direction for this blog and to reduce the chance that my groomer will use the law to continue his damaging behaviours and abuse of me. Whilst initially I felt, altruistically, that I should protect others by naming him, the effects of his continued toxic behaviours has been so profound that I need to protect myself from him first and foremost.