Grooming is defined as “patterned behaviour designed
to increase opportunities for sexual assault, minimise victim resistance or
withdrawal, and reduce disclosure or belief” (Exploring Sex Offender Grooming, 2013).
Finkelhor’s Four Preconditions model, has four factors
that explain the behaviour of a perpetrator of sexual violence. They are;
motivation, for example, the abuser has a sexual predilection for children, and/or they lack alternative sources of sexual gratification.
The second factor of Finkelhor’s model, overcoming
internal inhibitors, explains the thought process of the perpetrator to
internally justify their behaviour. Finkelhor suggests that there are several
ways that may enable the abuser to overcome their internal inhibitors, for
example, the presence of an impulse disorder, senility, psychosis and failure
of the incest inhibition mechanism in the family, may remove the perpetrators
self-control and deviant desires (Ward and Hudson, 2001).
inhibitors is the stage where the abuser creates
the opportunity to carry out his objective, sexual abuse. External inhibitors, e.g.
the child’s parents, may be overcome by the abuser ingratiating themselves into
the child’s environment. For example, becoming active in the child’s local football
team, where that child is a member. This will create an opportunity to isolate
the child from others, e.g. offering extra tutoring, which allows the abuser the
opportunity to get physically close to the child on a regular basis, whilst not
arousing suspicion of the parents or other persons within that environment.
Overcoming victim resistance,
is the fourth stage. An abuser may overcome resistance through a gradual
process, which can include normalising the behaviour,
for example, using persuasion to convince the victim that ‘other people do this’
(Exploring Sex Offender Grooming,
A different approach, for example, stepwise
progression, works by desensitising the victim to the assault. This method of
the perpetrator begins with appropriate behaviour, which then systematically
moves to inappropriate behaviour (Exploring Sex Offender Grooming, 2013).
The victim may be persuaded to engage in the behaviour
because they want to maintain the relationship; this relates back to the third
stage, where the abuser overcomes external inhibitors, by ingratiating himself
within the child’s environment and the creation of a special bond between the
child and the abuser. A further way in which an abuser may overcome victim
resistance, is by perpetuating the fear within the victim that, if they report
the assault, they may not be believed.