~ GROOMING: THE MOLESTATION PROCESS
"I could be grooming a boy and thinking how I have ... already groomed
... in my fantasy, and go along with it. Almost as using it like ... a step-to-step guide of grooming a boy
... instead of the text written in front of me, I had it in my mind ... so I would groom the boys this way and would do things I had already thought about, and then when it came to getting to the crunch, I could start off by sitting him on my lap and fondling him
... and to see if he then accepted that ... and [if] he didn't register anything in my fantasy I would know that I could go onto the next stage, which might be taking photographs of him in his swimming trunks. I could then fondle him a bit more and get an erection, and if that was alright, maybe I would wait 'til he was changing out of one pair of swimming trunks to another pair to take a couple of pictures."
The molestation process is described as a cycle of behaviour by Wyre (1987) which repeats for subsequent children. Wyre suggests
that or the typical extra-familial paedophile the process involves three major stages, which appear to be led by fantasy laced with skilful deceptive ploys. The sense in which they are typical of all offenders is unclear.
The offender begins this stage by masturbating and fantasizing to old sexual experiences, which leads to fantasies about
possible future contacts. A boy is befriended, perhaps at a club or in
the street, while an effort is made to meet his parents and develop their trust. Visits to the cinema, theatre or elsewhere ensure that a more intimate level of social contact is achieved. This trust-building process continues for awhile.
Digging deeper, the offender finds out about the boy's home and school problems.
This enables a "counselling" role to develop, which leads to "friendship".
By now the offender is being visited at home by the boy. The boy is encouraged to let his parents know about this. Physical contact of a seemingly non-sexual sort begins to take place, for example, playful wrestling. Watching television together allows an arm to be
placed around the boy. Any resistance leads to immediate cessation of the physical
contact, but only to be tried again in the future. The offender increasingly fantasizes and masturbates about his soon-to-be sexual conquest. Sexual touches start but fully clothed, and at a subsequent meeting the boy's genitals may be played with. Warnings are issued about not telling anyone. Mutual masturbation to ejaculation may follow. Later, oral sex, then buggery of the boy, and
then buggery of the offender complete the sequence.
The stages overlap quite considerably and are not too distinct. They correspond roughly to an approach/trust building/physical contact cycle.
Wyre also describes the "seductive incest cycle",
which may apply to a natural father or stepfather. The stages are
One of the difficulties with such accounts of the abuse cycle is that they make it appear a relatively short-term and repetitive process.
This may be the case with some abusers, but others show a long-term deviant career pattern which may begin in childhood or adolescence.
Take the following case of Garry ,
who was in his 40s at the time of interview. Ignoring at this point his childhood and adolescent sexual experiences, his adult life began with a lengthy period as a frequent indecent
exposer, "flashing" at boy targets as his preferred victims, while he later began a rather different career as a contact molester of two young girls. The two careers are very different in terms of their method of operation.
First of all, on the career as "flasher":
"There's two different styles I used to do. One is I'd just drop my trousers and underpants and masturbated or didn't masturbate depending on circumstances, time was one of the key factors
... the other one was completely stripping off, and doing masturbating. It would be in wooded areas
... deserted areas, like old buildings ... that type of thing, because where I lived
... at that time, we had a lot of reorganizing ... knocking terraced houses down, so there was lots of
abandoned houses where children used to go and play inside, or they would be out in the street
... I used to ... do quite a bit ... in the back garden at night with a torch ...
"[Also] I would go and look round the area first, ... look round and see where children played on their own
... areas where they were vulnerable and I would do this over quite a long period of time
... and then I would go to different areas allover [the city] ... and also offend in other areas which are already reconnoitred so I would change all the time [to] different areas.
"It varied a lot ... it fluctuated ... best to put it down to days, because it varied from day to day
... if I had a good night, it could be anything between 40 to 50, if it was bad night, 5, 6 actual offences
... per night ... so ... you are talking about a lot of offending ... a lot of them
... I was masturbating but I didn't come ... I would drop my trousers and get an erection
... and that would be the actual offence in front of the child ... [I didn't always have an orgasm]
... sometimes I did. ,
"[The offence took] a matter of seconds ... I would most probably picked out
... say there was a boy at first ... or two boys or three boys
sometimes ... I would quickly reconnoitre the area to make sure that there was no one around
... and I walk in there and do it ... sometimes they would watch ... sometimes they wouldn't
... they run away, it varied ... I would sometimes come ... and just pull my trousers and pants up and walk off, or run off and that would be the end of it.
"When I moved up to [a new city] I used to go out for cycle rides at night
... I used to park my bike somewhere and then go into a field where the houses backed on
... with the torch which I carried in the saddle bag ... after a while I got to know which houses had children in and which didn't
... and obviously I knew which ones were the interesting ones I wanted to expose myself to. So I used to
... wait in the ... garden in the dark where they couldn't see me ... to watch what was going on upstairs
... when they go to bed and pull the curtains ... and the parents came down, or while they were on their way down
... and I used to flash a very strong torch into the window, which [the children] would be aware of
... the light would go into the room ... they would come up to the window and look out through the curtains and see what the light was. Then I would expose myself and shine the light on my penis. So that's how it used to be done."
This persistent cycle of abuse is clearly not totally in accord with Wyre's stages. Given that it is a no contact, no interaction offence, the stages of "seduction" or "grooming" are unnecessary. Neither is it necessary to secure the child's silence since after a few seconds Garry would leave the scene.
There are clearly elements of the abuse cycle present. Most particularly, it is abundantly obvious that Garry's offending involved a substantial amount of planning; there was little really spontaneous about it. Even Garry had targets with physical characteristics that he preferred. Furthermore, the reinforcement involved in the cycle was also fairly instantaneous in so far as the offence sometimes brought him to ejaculation. The alternative was that it provided him with what were for him erotic stimuli. In some ways, then, it is curious that he began an apparently totally different type of offence "mid-career".
The mystery recedes somewhat if one considers that the prime theme in his sexual history is one of exposure and public masturbation. Not only does this tend to dominate his offending, but his adolescent sexual pattern also demonstrated much the same preference.
The following account illustrates his use of exposure but, in the present context, it even more graphically displays the complexities of the "enticement" or "grooming" process at work. Garry , interviewed when he was a resident of the former Gracewell Clinic for sex offenders in the UK, uses a good deal of exculpatory rhetoric, which might be considered "distorted" thinking
"[Nickola and Trudy] are two girls that I knew on the estate ...
and it's quite an unusual one because they ... I lived in the big tower block, 17 floors up
... they have got an intercom system with the private rooms ... to stop people from walking in anywhere
... and I got this ... call off these two girls asking if I was Garry ... I'd never seen them before in my life and I didn't know who they were
... I said yes ... and they chatted and told me they were Nickola and Trudy ...
Trudy was 8 and Nickola was 6 ... We were chatting and they said we live locally
... we have been thrown out onto the streets by mum and dad -- they had gone off to the pub
... We chatted for a few minutes and they asked me more about me and I asked about them and they said well, we will have to go now
... but if you look over the balcony ... you will see us go.
"So I looked over and I says ahh ... very interesting ...
because ... my fantasy and my favourite type of girl is a blonde hair, fair skin, slender with blue eyes
... and they fitted the description beautifully ... they were blonde ... quite long and tall and slender for their age
... and of course it got me thinking then, that was on the Saturday I think ...
but on the Sunday they came back and asked me if they could come up because they were wet and it was a very miserable day
... at the end of March and it was pouring with rain and miserable ... mum and dad had gone off to the pub again and left them out in the rain
... and they said they wanted to come up and I said no ... well we are getting very wet here and we want to come up
... so I gave in and let them come up ... and that is where it all started ...
and it went from thereon.
"I think ... that they had already been abused ... that's why they were so OK on it
... I've come to the conclusion that they were after something as well. Mostly they thought
... if we know a little bit about him we can use him for sweets and things like this
... I don't honestly know how they got my name and I never really asked them, I thought, well the opportunity is here
... I have got an ideal [opportunity] to offend and I have got very little chance of being caught so I am not going to say too much. I am just going to keep it under my hat and use the situation.
"[A]fter 4 weeks I decided that I was going to [offend]. Nothing happened, they just come and they had drinks and tea and watched television. I bought them some sketch books and they watched telly for 4 weeks
... This is on the Saturdays and Sundays ... they used to come up on a regular basis then, 'cause the mum used to throw them out
... go off to the pub and then go off shopping somewhere and leave them out in all kinds of weathers, sunny weather, wet weather or what.
"So after ... the fifth week I decided that I have got an opportunity to start offending
... I'd been thinking about it and how to plan it ... all the grooming and everything. I had got them semi-groomed after 4 weeks
... they were fairly easy to groom. I started buying them sweets ... and I used to give them dinner and all this type of thing. I thought well I shall try and introduce them into
... my offending side ... the exposing by very subtle means. What I did was I run a bath on the Saturday morning and I purposely didn't get in it
... I was fully dressed when they came up ... they come up on the Saturday morning and I said 'look,
I want a bath because I was going out this Saturday somewhere'. I didn't tell them where
... just made up some excuse I was going out ... and I haven't got time this afternoon, you will have to go off fairly early anyway, about 2 o'clock instead
of 3 ... I've got to have a bath ... I have got you a cup of tea and some biscuits
... sit yourself in front of the telly, while I go and have a bath. I don't want to be disturbed.
"So I put the input into them that Garry was going off for a bath and don't come in. Well, you know what kids are like. I worked on the principle that
... the kids would do the opposite ... and come in which they did.
What happened was ... after about 5 minutes ... I put a very small amount of suds in
... so it was just a little bit ... on the water level ... I got a knock on the door from Trudy first and she came. She asked could I go to the toilet
... because the bathroom and toilet were these encased ones with no windows in
... so I didn't lock the door. I never lock the door, but that's is part of the
... because I was always frightened that if the lights go off and everything-1 am stuck in there and can't see a damn thing
... and I can't get the door open ... But ... that wasn't part of the ... it was purposely done so
... I knew they would come in.
"She knocked on the door and I said 'no, I am in the bath, I don't want to be disturbed'
... she says I am going to wet my knickers if I don't go to the toilet. So after a little while of bickering I let her
... [S]he come in, took her knickers down facing her bum towards me ... sat on the seat and did her ablutions and watched me over the top. She was trying to see where my penis was
... so I kinda puts my hands over it at first ... and then I kinda gave up after awhile
... She got up, turned round and wiped her bum facing me ... and then pulled the chain and went.
Then Nickola did exactly the same coming in, same excuses ... and she went out and then they knocked on the door and said can we come in and sit on the side of the bath? So that's what they did in the end
[T]his used to be a regular thing for about 2 months. Then they asked if they could
come in the bath with me ... and I said no, that's it ... I am not pushing it any further
... if I did get caught ... [I'd] earn a lot of bird ... from all the other [convictions], I didn't want that.
"So, I said you could have a bath on your own ... for about 2 or 3 months ...
I used to have a bath, come out, empty it ... put some fresh water and foam in and then they used to jump in
... sometimes I was dressed sometimes I wasn't ...
[T]hey sometimes undressed and got in before I had finished ... about 8 or 9 weeks later that stopped and they started running around taking off their clothes and doing ballet dancing
... they'd play some records and they used to dance to it and that type of thing.
"I didn't have the bed in the bedroom, I had it in the lounge [because the bedroom was being decorated] in front of the
telly. I used to lay in there with nothing on and watch telly
[T]hey saw my penis enlarged and they saw me rubbing it ... so they wanted to know what that was
... they wanted to know how ... what I was doing ... so I showed them ...
I sat on the toilet and masturbated and came while they watched. It got a regular thing-they used to watch all the time
... watch me do it.
"[I]t was all purposely done ... but what I did was actually train them
... Nickola was very insecure and wanted lots of cuddling and attention ...
and Trudy was more ... self-assured but she liked being cuddled and that. So what happened was that I groomed them into a position where they got sweets and they watch me masturbate then they would get their cuddles
... so it was a kind of grooming that way, and that's all... effectively over the weeks by subtle ways of doing it I managed to persuade them and they thought it was quite natural to do, to watch me masturbate.
"... I feel if I had the opportunity I would have gone to oral sex and that was it. I tried with Trudy and Nickola
... I tried to ... not blackmail ... I tried to persuade them with money up to £20 that I could lick their vagina
... or they would masturbate me off. But they refused so I didn't push it any further, I let it drop
... because it was upsetting them and I didn't want them upset ... But I tried you know by little subtle drops every so often
... I would say I'll give you £10 and ... they would refuse it point blank and I'd leave it for a few weeks and then bring
... I'd said I'll ... give you £15 ... no ... £20. Do it bit by bit until [it] became obvious that they weren't going to do it for no money. If I offered them £100 they wouldn't do it. So I left it-stopped."
Garry's "grooming" methods in his latter form of offending correspond fairly well to Wyre's description of the process, although this appears to be rather too rigid to accommodate the nuances of the individual offender's ways of doing things. Garry seems more intentional in his targeting and grooming; prior fantasy does not appear to be so integral in his offending cycle as is the case with some offenders. But he also includes masturbation as part of his
offending -- either he exposes himself and masturbates to a virtual stranger or he gets himself into a situation in which he exposes himself and masturbates in front of children whom he has carefully encouraged to express a degree of sexual curiosity.
A somewhat more flexible a roach to the cycle of offending is discussed by
Nelson an Jackson (1989),
in connection with methods of encouraging offenders to be able to recognize
their personal high-risk situations through the use of cognitive-behavioral
chains. High-risk elements of the chain are an "idiosyncratic constellation".
Past failures to control one's sexual behaviour-are important sources of information
about the sequence of thoughts and behaviour that leads to offending. The client
is asked to list the steps in the chain of events. The reasons for the steps are not
required at this stage, merely a precise description of what happened in the order in which it happened. The time intervals between events are of no significance at all. A minimum of 7 and a maximum of 10 important elements in the
abuse chain are required. This effectively constrains the offender to
produce significant elements -- any fewer and the risk is that they are minimizing the importance of events, many more and they overemphasize the importance of trivialities. It is important
not to allow interpretations to be introduced, despite the fact that some offenders may
wish to justify, excuse or explain their behaviour. They have to describe events as if they were detached observers.
One child abuser showed several factors, which Nelson and Jackson identify as: