PODCAST EXTRAS: The 9 Signs of Grooming Behavior for Sexual Abuse

by | Nov 14, 2019 | Abuse, Uncategorized | 43 comments

Recognizing the 9 signs of grooming behavior for sexual abuse
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I’m afraid that most of us don’t know the signs of grooming behavior when it comes to sexual abuse. 

I know I didn’t! But sexual abuse, especially in churches, has been in the news a lot lately, and I thought it was worth doing a post on recognizing grooming behaviors, because then we can be more aware ourselves if something fishy is going on, but also more vigilant for those around us.

But first, here’s the podcast.

 

What are the Signs of Grooming?

In the podcast, I went over what grooming was. Essentially,

Grooming is a process in which a perpetrator gains a person’s trust, breaks down their defences and then begins to manipulate them for sexual purposes.

Essentially, they’re making people think that something that is not normal is totally normal and okay, and then they escalate from there. And specifically in this podcast I was using the church scenario, although the steps are common no matter what environment the abuse is in. I want to point out, too, that clergy sexual abuse is real and it’s wrong. In many states, it’s against the law for clergy to have a sexual relationship with a congregant because of the power differential, which I explained in this video about the Andy Savage case.

So, here are the nine grooming steps that I could identify:

  1. Make yourself indispensable and trustworthy to the bystanders. A perpetrator starts by making themselves beyond suspicion. They’re skilled at learning how to deflect and how to simultaneously make themselves seem very spiritual.
  2. Identify a victim. Sometimes this is opportunistic (people who come to see them in a certain setting), and sometimes they’ll seek out the marginalized.
  3. Start doing odd things in public to see if others notice, and to acclimatize others to these things (eg. being very hands-on with children)
  4. Form a bond with the victim by sharing something special 
  5. Force an intimacy by sharing a secret or struggle
  6. Move the encounters to a different place–ie. a different physical place, or progress to texting or social media
  7. Break personal space boundaries, for instance by texting late at night or early in the morning
  8. Break other boundaries, often regarding substance abuse (ie. offering alcohol or showing porn)
  9. Confess a huge struggle and show the victim that you need them.

Throughout the podcast, I quoted several high profile cases that use all of these examples. You can read them here:

Rachael Denhollander and Larry Nassar–read Rachael’s book What Is a Girl Worth?

John Crist sexually harrassing and abusing women for years

Wes Feltner being accused of sexually abusing two young women in his youth group

Rev. Jervin Weekes getting his credentials removed for sexually grooming women in his congregation

Andy Savage–My initial story about him and my recent video about how Savage should not have a new church

I hope you listen in to the podcast and share it with others, because we need to learn how to recognize grooming behavior. These books are also awesome to help with this:

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That was it for the podcast today! Let’s keep our churches safe places and be aware of what’s happening. Our churches will have more abusers than you’d normally expect to find in a group of people, not because Christians are more evil, but because we’re more trusting. And churches give great access to children, teenagers, and vulnerable women. So we need to be vigilant. We need to be wise. And we need to be discerning.

Recognizing the 9 Signs of Grooming Behavior for Sexual Abuse

Would you add anything else to my list of grooming behaviors? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

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43 Comments

  1. Nathan

    On a related note identifying a victim by seeking out the marginalized is done by others, too. I read an interview of a child molester once, and he said that he would go to parks, etc, and look into kid’s eyes. He said that he could just tell what kids were lonely, neglected, and therefore vulnerable.

    Two great things about Christian churches are the trusting nature and the fact that they give access opportunities to vulnerable people. Sadly, these two items also allow predators to abuse these vulnerable people.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan. We need to keep our churches safe for the vulnerable, which also means becoming wise as serpents.

      Reply
    • Jonathan Bleeker

      That’s one of the things that scares me somewhat still as an ex porn addict. I have that knack for noticing someone who is in any sort of distress. As a Christian I want to help but I dare not do so directly. I have to point them out to someone else (if its a girl/woman, I inform one of our church moms) and let them take care of it.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    From my own experience, be wary of the ‘spiritually concerned’ person, who requests detailed information, contact details etc about someone because they want to pray for them… Also, the person who maintains that their behaviour is totally appropriate and that the person on the receiving end of it only perceives it as wrong because of their ’emotional damage’.

    And don’t dismiss little warning signs. Sometimes, someone who is uncomfortable with what is happening to them may find it difficult to be open about it – an offhand comment about a ‘minor’ problem may be their cry for help.

    Reply
    • M

      I saw an episode of Oprah decades ago where she interviewed child molesters in prison. They told her their tricks. One trick was wrestling with boys In youth groups or boy scouts and then “accidentally“ touching them. Those who didn’t react too negatively they continued to prey upon. If someone was outraged they left them alone. Almost every perpetrator said they did this. Not too long later we had a “generous” offer from a newish member to start a boy’s group. We asked about his purpose and vision. He said he wanted to teach the boys to tie knots and wrestle. The leadership wisely declined. Later as we continued to minister to him and his family we found out the situation was sooo dangerous. He had molested all his younger siblings and some nieces and nephews.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Wow, so glad you saw that red flag! And, yes, that’s exactly what molesters do. We have to be educated about this.

        Reply
      • Gayle

        My ex husband is in prison for 90 years for his sex offenses against children. He was a mastermind at this as no one knew for years until one came forward.

        I have started a blog for the wives and families they leave behind. I want to help provide hope and healing for these unseen victims.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Gayle, I’m so sorry. That’s such a huge grief. I’m glad that you’re using what you can for good!

          Reply
    • Tina

      Yes, I can confirm these additions from my experience. “I am so very concerned for you”
      “I can’t imagine what you are going f through” and “oh they are saying I am acting inappropriately because of their emotional damage” “they are unwell/unstable” are a part of grooming by a church goer.

      Reply
  3. M

    Follow up…We were able to help him but he was banned from ever working with any kids. He also was not allowed to babysit any kids or have them over to his house which he liked to offer.

    Reply
  4. Natalie

    Wow!! The Lord definitely used the timing of this post in my life! Been experiencing a good amount of red flags recents. This podcast was the Lord yelling at me “It’s grooming!!! Stay away!!!”
    When you’re a new person in a new place with no friends, you really have to be wary of who you let in!!! DON’T SECOND GUESS YOUR GUT!!!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen! I’m so glad that it helped you, Natalie!

      Reply
  5. Arwen

    Great, great, GREAT podcast! If any of you guys like the I.D. channel, they have a really good show you can watch even on YouTube called, Evil Lives Here. The entire show is about how the victims overlooked the SIGNS of their abusers and how YOU can learn from the signs they missed so that you’re not taken advantage of. A lot of the things you talked about here Sheila were mentioned by the survivors in the series. I have watched a LOT of shows from the I.D. channel and this one by far is my favorite! Simply because you’re learning as you watch. What type of tactics different types of abusers use, which victims they identify to abuse, methods they use to keep you from escaping, and how the victims found the courage to escape and bring down the perpetrators in the end. Check it out!

    Reply
    • Maria

      Sounds interesting. What does I.D. stand for?

      Reply
      • Arwen

        Maria, it stands for Investigation Discovery.

        Reply
        • Maria

          Thank you

          Reply
  6. Maria

    Everything that Sheila listed, if allowed in any environment, would give cover to sexual predators. So even if the person engaging in that behavior does not have nefarious intentions, it would still be problematic.

    If the threshold is “Do not address this person’s behavior unless you are fairly certain that he or she is a child molester,” then it becomes difficult to say anything. Let it simply be a policy that such behavior not tolerated because it gives cover to child molesters. Then you can fire people for violating policy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree, Maria. I’m still flabbergasted that the case I mentioned on the podcast about the pastor texting that teenage girl did not result in the pastor being fired. It is not appropriate to text parishioners at all times of day. It is not appropriate for a pastor to be acting like that, ever. And we should have policies in place about wrestling/tickling etc so that it’s very clear where the line is (I should note that in Andy Savage’s case, he had been warned about tickling and being alone with a girl in a room with the door closed. But no one ever did anything about it.)

      Reply
      • Maria

        That is really sad. So many warning signs ignored.

        Reply
  7. Lindsey

    I think your points are all really good, and I hope all your readers can take them to heart. We really need to start raising a generation of children that will be abuse savvy in order to equip them. I admit that sometimes when I start thinking about the dangers I feel panicky, and I know there is no way to ensure with 100% certainty that my kids will never be molested – and it terrifies me. I pray to God to do what I can’t in order to keep them safe, and we have an open dialogue about this sort of thing that I will revisit with them on occasion.

    That being said, when we are talking about adults I have to wonder where common sense has gone. I read the Jon Crist article you linked, and – while I believe that he is 100% responsible for his sins – I am left wondering why this sort of story gets over blown so frequently. I mean, a young woman and her boyfriend meet a Celebrity guy for the very first time. This celebrity confesses to them that he has a sex addiction. The next day, celebrity calls woman and asks to get together alone with her. Woman tells boyfriend and NEITHER one is concerned?! Woman meets celebrity alone in his apartment where he gives her alcohol and takes some himself. They go on a date, which starts out fine but as the evening goes on they both become inebriated, at which point he tries to come on to her, says and does inappropriate things, and she rebuffs him. The next day, like the addict that he is, he texts her some more sexually charged things. He does have issues, there is no denying. But this girl was incredibly foolish, (and apparently so was her boyfriend?). She was an adult who idolized someone she didn’t really know at all, put herself into a compromising situation – willingly – which could have sent some mixed signals. Then she got drunk with a confessed sex addict and expected…what? That his addiction wouldn’t flare up under the influence of alcohol? He shouldn’t have asked her out knowing that he has an addiction. He should be taking his recovery seriously. But I think this story is spun to drive home the “me too” narrative in which women get to avoid all personal responsibility for their dumb choices.
    It’s like when two college students both get drunk and have sex and the next day the story is that she was raped because consent can’t be given when drunk. But if he’s drunk too, and they both seem willing in the moment then no one is being predatory, they’re just both dumb.

    Actual rape and sexual abuse is minimized by all the stories of women who slept with the boss to get ahead, or who went out with a guy who acted like a creep, but didn’t hurt them. Are those men wrong for asking for that or acting that way? Of course. But those women had the power to say “no”. We need to teach our daughters that they have that power, and they need to use common sense.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Lindsey!

      I do agree that the John Crist stories are in a different category than the others, and I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear. I’d call them more sexual harrassment than abuse, because he was not in a power relationship with them or a counseling situation with them. It’s different from a pastor or youth pastor for sure.

      I still think that it’s important for women to recognize these signs, though, because even if it’s not abuse, we can be really naive when someone is looking for a sexual conquest. We think they’re honestly looking for friendship when they’re not. I think we tend to assume well far too easily about people. And when it’s someone you respect or idolize, we often lower our standards (going alone into a room with a guy; drinking alcohol with them, etc.).

      So, yes, it is in a different category. But if all of us recognized, “Hey, him revealing this much personal stuff right off the bat is just off, especially when it’s accompanied by him wanting to be alone with me and offering me alcohol,” then we’d be safer. I think they figured he wasn’t after anything because, after all, he knew she had a boyfriend, and he knew the boyfriend knew what was going on. But that’s just being naive, and we have to teach women to recognize when there are sexual addicts/predators on the prowl.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        Totally agree! I wasn’t criticizing you adding the link, just to be clear, I was just saying that the “me too” movement had many stories that lessened to seriousness of the others (really more of a quid pro quo situation), and I would hate to see the We Too movement go down the same path.

        Reply
      • Lydia purple

        It did say in the John Crist article that the whole time she thought “he’s not going to do anything because he is a Christian “

        It’s of course faulty reasoning. I think the problem here is that people are not taught to trust their gut, they are taught how to think properly including cross examining your own thinking and I think in their are problems with celebrity culture too. It’s idol worship. I don’t get how people fall for this… as soon as something is super trendy or one person has this celebrity status I am cautious from the get go. I believe that the very qualities that make people or opinions so popular are often red flags in itself.

        Also I have a weird feeling whenever I read the “ power dynamics” thing you describe for pastors and youth pastors. Both should not have power over the people. It’s the downside of structural organized churches. Maybe it’s because I am a Rebell and question everything, but I would not feel threatened by a boss or pastor just because of his position. I believe that in American culture obedience towards authority is way to overemphasized and obey God more than people is not stressed enough. All to often obeying people in authority is equaled with obedience toward God, when in many instances a healthy dose of back talk and questioning would be wise. We must allow this as a safety net for both the one in leadership and the one who submits. If a leader can allow himself to be questioned his true intentions are more likely to stay pure.
        it’s what you teach about submission in marriage, it’s true for parent-child relationship and it should be allowed for pastors and the people they lead. Their shouldn’t be a power difference that freezes people in fear of speaking up.

        Reply
        • Blessed Wife

          You’re right on, Lydia!

          This whole “pastor has power” concept is completely foreign to me. Our pastors have always served at the mercy and pleasure of the church gossips, which creates its own set of problems. The benefit is that no pastor has any more authority than the women in the church want to give him, and a breath of scandal concerning any female has always been regarded as suitable grounds for immediate resignation, even if nothing actually happened.

          Also, we were taught at home and in the youth group that sex is wrong (again, that mindset makes it own set of problems), and that anyone who asks you for any sex act does not love you or God. If any of us had been approached sexually by a person in the church, we would have had that teaching clear in our minds. During much of my time in the youth group, our youth leader was a parent volunteer (a mom of two teenagers). We also knew we could come to her if anything happened elsewhere.

          I think giving teens a very absolute sense of right and wrong with regard to pre-marital sex is a protective thing. I think it’s good to teach them to have such a strong relationship with God and a solid foundation in what God wants of us that if anyone comes onto them with something like Andy Savage did, they will not hesitate to say no, or to tell their parents, the church authorities, or the cops.

          I even think it would be a good idea to have periodic “safety classes” in children’s ministries, where the adults and children are taught about these grooming behaviors, so they can recognize it when they see it.

          Our current pastor introduced the Ministry Safe program at our church, and everyone who works with children there is required to complete the training course, complete a background check, and follow the safety protocols. It ruffled feathers among those who believed it rude to imply that any sort of abuse could happen at “our” church, but it puts lots of eyes on every child and every adult that has access to children through our church.

          Reply
    • Sarah O

      On the one hand I totally agree with the sentiment and previous comments and we do need to be very shrewd and discerning, but I also think the hallmark of MeToo/ChurchToo is actually adding accountability for the perpetrators. Victims have always had to face questions about their own character – what were you wearing? Why did you go there? Were you drinking? Are you promiscuous? Did you do anything to lead them on? Why did you take so long to say anything? In fact, I think this automatic line of reason has given birth to many of the grooming techniques Sheila mentioned. I can’t really think of any case where a victim got to avoid all responsibility.

      In the past, we’ve accepted excuses and to a certain degree quietly tolerated the idea that some people are “acceptable targets”. “Well she sleeps around anyway, she went to his apartment wearing THAT. At a certain point, doesn’t her behavior waive her right to consent?” And so nothing was done. All the focus was on the victim and unless they are perfect, it’s not worth looking at the perpetrator. Perpetrators KNOW that. So half the grooming is to create the opportunity, the other half is to undermine the credibility of the victim.

      I think Sheila really hit on an important point that without grooming, these events would not have occurred naturally. What that means is, the predator KNOWS the answer is no, and works to manipulate, coerce, or exploit their way into a yes. Wes Feltner for example, did not come out and ask a set of Christian parents if he could have a casual, sexual, open relationship with their daughter. Of course not! He said he wanted to court her for marriage and life as a pastor’s wife. He used the reputation of his office to get them to think his pursuit was honorable and that he was a good dating choice, knowing full well he had no intentions of breaking up with any of his current girlfriends, public or otherwise, and fully intending to pursue her sexually anyway. Jon Crist knew the answer was no, so he hoped to lean on his celebrity status and get the girl drunk so she’d be easier to manipulate.

      Yes, let’s teach our kids to be smart and stay safe, but let’s also acknowledge that there’s no mistake a person can make that waives their right to bodily autonomy and human dignity. Let’s keep the fire on the predators and stop agreeing with them that this mistake or that mistake makes what they’re doing ok.

      If we exclude the stories of people who made poor choices, we risk continuing to provide some air cover for predators who should not be sexually exploiting others, and we inadvertently create new grooming techniques for them.

      Hope I’m making sense.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I don’t mean to say that we must exclude all stories of people who made poor decisions. I just meant to say that a person who is genuinely interested in not being a victim would look at the situation with Jon Crist (not really commenting on the other situations, I don’t know the details there), and say “ I made a poor decision to go out ON A DATE with a confessed sex addict, AND I got drunk to boot. Yeah, he acting inappropriate when he was also drunk and texted some appropriate things afterwards, but all of those choices I made could be construed as consent up until I said “no”.
        I don’t think Jon attempted to trick her so much as that famous people just kinda live in this bubble where random people WANT to sleep with them, and are excited by the idea of the celebrity trying to woo them. They use that to their own benefit – just like we all are prone to use whatever advantage we have to our own benefit. I mean, he didn’t rape her. He didn’t even continue to try anything besides asking for consent after she said no (which, again, all of this is bad and sinful in his part and he bears the responsibility for his own choices). As a mother of sons and daughters, as well as a Christian, I feel like situations must be looked at from both sides. Does he have an addiction he needs to work on recovering from? Admittedly. Did he say crude and inappropriate things? Most likely. Did he grossly misread the situation (while also drunk) and try to make a move? Yes. Does that make him a predator? Based on just this one story I’m going to say no. There may be other, more damning testimonies that would indicate that he was a predator, but this story doesn’t show that.

        Every bad date and misread signal, and every inappropriate comment or proposition doesn’t make someone a sexual predator – it just makes them human. That’s why I said that situations like this one, and like the stories of women in Hollywood who willingly slept with someone for a role should not be lumped in to a campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault. They disrespect the stories of actual abuse and make the campaign a joke.

        Reply
        • Lydia purple

          Yes I think the same way! If a woman decides to sleep with someone to gain a career it is not true that she had no choice. She did choose that the career was more important to her than not being used sexually. she put up with it and in many cases kept silent for years about it because she did not want to risk her career. It is sexual exploitation but not the same as rape or other abuse situations where the victim really has no choice at all.

          I think it would be wise to figure out though what would drive a person to disregard their own dignity in such a way for a career. So the thing would be to address the brokenness that would lead somebody to go along with this and help them heal. Still measures should be taken against the person exploiting others like this and organizational changes could be put in place to protect others in the future. There should be a no tolerance policy for stuff like this. But Hollywood is far from that.

          Reply
  8. Blessed Wife

    I would say, beware single men who profess to profess to want a family “someday” but never spend time with grown women, preferring to surround themselves instead with teenagers (of either gender), or children. There was a guy like this in a local church (not ours, thankfully), who is now serving 15 years for fondling the teenage boys he had hanging out at his house all the time. His house was the “hangout”- video games, sleepovers, etc.

    Also the sleepovers themselves, which put several boys at once in a house that basically had two beds. That normalized to them the idea of sleeping in bed with him and each other, when normally down here the suggestion that two males sleep on the same piece of furniture constitutes fighting words. The video games were great bait, but they also kept the boys up really late, increasing the incidence of them “needing” to stay over. Then they “had to” share the very limited sleep surfaces. Then, oops, he fondled them “in his sleep”. He created a false necessity, which kept them from examining other reasons why he might want them asleep in his bed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Really good example. Yes, we should be very wary of sleepovers. There’s really no reason for them. If youth must sleep over, there need to be two unrelated adults supervising at all times.

      Reply
  9. Mb

    I’m hesitant at the example of “being really hands on with kids” as an unusual behaviour. The men in my life are legit dads who love their kids and invest in the kids of our friends and I struggle that being used as an example as something that would be grooming instead of just good parenting. Like sometimes, yes that’s odd behaviour. But some people are just genuinely good with kids and I don’t think that we need to make that seem like a bad thing all the time.

    Reply
    • Ina

      Yes! It’s a really unfortunate side effect of our gendered (or perhaps just less kid friendly) society where men being good with kids is a sign of something bad. And it really negatively affects kids today- men interact with children in a different way than women and that’s good for children’s development! Especially with the rise in single moms, children NEED positive, hands on men in their lives. It was one of the main reasons I was first attracted to my husband, and he was just an innocent, loving older brother who genuinely enjoyed little kids not a predator at all! The same can be said for many men I admire in my community. Maybe this is just a lesser sign that can point to predatory behavior when other flags are present?

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I took hands on to mean actually touching children a lot – not “involved”. I could be wrong.

        Reply
        • Anon

          Yes, it’s that kind of ‘hands on’ physical stuff I would be wary of, not someone who just likes playing games or talking to the kids. Listen to your gut feeling – if something feels off, it probably is. A few years back I raised concerns about a local church youth worker – he would play with all the kids, but I noticed was getting very physical with the pre-teen girls (age 11 &12), tickling, hugging, play fighting. He also came out with some worrying comments about 11 year old girls ‘leading men on’. I don’t have an issue with single guys being involved in kids work, but he made my skin crawl.

          My concerns were dismissed as overreactions – he was just ‘good with kids’. Now, I’d probably go to the police, but back then, I didn’t know what else to do if the church ignored my concerns. Shortly after, this man was asked to leave his post after they found out he’d forged references from two previous youthwork jobs- to hide that fact that he’d been asked to leave both posts following ‘unproven allegations’ by youngsters he was working with.

          Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      I would watch to see how he interacts with people generally. If touch is his love language, he would probably touch everyone a lot: handshakes with an arm grasp or pat for men and women, back pats and hair ruffles for kids, etc. We’ve had several men like that who were perfectly safe, healthy people who just touched other people a lot to connect.

      Where I would get concerned is with one who was very handsy with a specific subset of people. If he doesn’t touch most people generally but touches one type of person a lot, eg teen boys or girls, prepubescent children, or wants to hug and pat all the grown women but ignores or avoids men, I would be much more suspicious.

      Reply
      • Mb

        I feel like then this wording should be changed. Being very hands on with kids means very involved here. This makes it seem like playing and investing in and paying attention to them is unusual behaviour. Maybe the example should instead be “being overly affectionate with children to see if other notice”

        Reply
  10. joebob

    to me step 3 is what Target did as policy with its transgender bathroom rules

    Reply
  11. Kristina

    I had my husband watch the Jimmy Hinton videos with me after an incident where an adult was tickling our daughter at church. My husband was embarrassed that I stepped in and told the man to stop right away. Innocent or not, normalizing touch as a game empowers predatory behavior in the environment, and for our child. If you haven’t checked out his resources, do. And as a woman, reading his mother’s blog (Finding a Healing Place) was extremely important to me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Kristina! We do need to make sure that this isn’t normalized.

      Reply
  12. E

    Thank you so much for this post. The church needs to talk about this more. This year a young man in our church got arrested for statutory rape, but apparently none of his multiple victims were from church. However, he DID volunteer in the children’s ministry! And there is another man (who is actually a dad whose son is around my son’s age) who gives me the creeps at church and he was paying way too much attention to my young daughter one day. I watched her like a hawk and MADE SURE he KNEW I had my eyes on him every second, as we were at a children’s church outing. I then noticed him playing around with another little girl, around my daughter’s age, in a service a few weeks later. I know something is not right there, he also volunteers in the nursery and in preschool classrooms, but I don’t even know how to bring this up with anyone at church. He did nothing, but pay way too much attention to a couple little girls, which to me is grooming behavior, but I don’t know that anyone would take my gut feeling and concern seriously. This is after *I* was groomed into a very inappropriate (but never sexual) relationship with a youth leader when I was 18-19. I wish I had known all this back then! Would have saved me much pain.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Your mom radar was likely right on! I think we need to speak up in these situations, even if others think we’re trouble makers. Churches need to be aware. They just do.

      Reply
  13. Maitri

    Excellent podcast Sheila. Thank you.

    Reply

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