This is my most important Blog thus far.
Due to Covid and the lockdown more people particularly young people are spending more time online whilst being stuck at home. For educational purposes, entertainment, socialising, escapism etc
****Disclaimer this is NOT to scare anyone or make anyone paranoid about everyone they come into contact with on the internet but to make people aware of what people are doing online and how easy it is for people to do this due to anonymity. This is also MY experiences & observations, there’s much I still do not know.****
Grooming is where someone is trying to trick, exploit and/or abuse a person/s for sexual, financial and/or personal gains and it can happen to anyone, younger and older. It can be a man or a woman. We need to know the signs and red flags to best protect ourselves.
1/ Concerned about appearing as a Good person – Groomers always come across as very likeable, nice and very friendly because their tactics would not work otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to groom anyone if they showed their evil side from the beginning. There is a difference between nice and a good person and they are not necessarily one and the same. They often get themselves into positions where they can access those whom they want to groom i.e. a paedophile becoming a teacher, befriending a lawyer to learn legal information etc. “I just want to help people”.
—- Cognitive dissonance is a major red flag in anybody (where a person words are not matching up with their actions/behaviour which becomes a pattern or they’re holding two opposing beliefs simultaneously) e.g. when men say women shouldn’t be on social media but then pursue interactions with women online. If they’re nice one minute to one person and then talking bad about/to someone the next is also a red flag. Be careful about sharing your problems and issues with everyone online. There are people that seek out people they feel they can easily take advantage of by pretending to be a helper, be careful what you share and with who.
Also see how a person is when they are disappointed or get rejected, do they become angry when they don’t get what they want or you don’t do what they want/ask which is very different, confusing and surprising to how they are coming across.
2/ You don’t know much about them – People who are abusive are pretty secretive because frankly they don’t want to be found out. They KNOW what they are doing is wrong that is why they are hiding it and they don’t want consequences for their actions or for anyone else to know. They can talk about subjects but never share anything about it from their own personal life i.e. marriage but you never see theirs (they’ll make excuses about this), they don’t share information of places they go, where they are etc.
—- If you speak with someone from your own country or city you can connect the dots back to a place or person because we live in a global village, see if people have real life connections and who they are in a community. If they are not from your country you should be extra cautious because you can’t verify much, particularly if they’re not part of a community outside of the net. A persons intellect or position mean nothing to them being a good person as we see over and over again people taking advantage of others in those positions.
3/ Share information with you to make you feel comfortable – They may offer up information first about themselves in the beginning about their past, share photos with you, stories, similar connections to make you feel comfortable with them and then in turn ask you to share the same. You may feel more comfortable to share because you believe they have given you so much information about themselves and you “know” them. If you say you don’t share photos etc they may make you feel guilty about it and keep pushing and asking acting like they’re sad that you’re not sharing, using emojis to make it look cute, fun and innocent.
—- You have to be aware of people the same sex as you and your children. People are always on more guard with the opposite sex but people can try to befriend you to get to your kids from the friend/sister angle. You shouldn’t give out photos of your children online, if you have good relationships with people online you can always meet in safe environments. If you say no to giving certain information and photos and someone keeps pestering you for them pay attention. I personally don’t ask anyone for anything and if you say no to their request they should respect you and your boundaries the first time. Even though they share they are still pretty secretive it’s just a tactic.
4/ Isolation – When someone is trying to groom someone online they want to do it away from other people seeing. They will do it in your DM’s, they do it privately somewhere where it’s just you and them so they can try and influence you and manipulate you without other people identifying this, In case someone catches wind of what they’re doing, plus they don’t want what they’re doing out in the open. They also want to isolate you from other people online and in your real life because it’s easier to control, exploit and abuse someone when they are isolated from their family, friends and people that can help them. This doesn’t apply to a network or grooming gangs where people are working together.
—- See who is coming to you privately and why, if you have a bad feeling about someone trust your gut and block and don’t feel guilty about this, someone who is healthy would not make you feel guilty for not wanting to interact with them or chastise you about it. Also look into a person, what they write, how they interact with others (not what other people online say) how they speak about people and treat people are all good indicators.
Most of the time you don’t have any inkling about a person you’re human, you’re not meant to to be on guard all the time and know what people’s bad intentions are but if you feel someone is trying to manipulate, coerce, harass you tell someone in REAL LIFE, NOT on the net. Your parents, friends, spouse, community leader in the masjid, the police, lawyers or organisations that specialise in this so they can also see what you’re saying and you can get a perspective from them. Try to speak to someone you know first and someone you trust in person and don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about it.
5/ They will groom people around you – They will go into your followers and following list, your likes and dislikes and try to get to people around you. They will use people against you and use people for a means for their own ends. They even do this before you have any communication with them, they can be grooming someone long before they interact with them by targeting specific people they think their tactics will work on. They curate their own social media to what your interests and hobbies are (you just happened to like the same stuff) and show up where you go online, even your work.
—- You don’t have to have the same interests to get along with people, it’s your character that joins you.
6/ Says you’re not like other women/men – Putting other down in comparison to you, “most women are stupid but you’re not, you’re different”, trying to make you feel special in comparison or in competition with others.
—- Nobody needs to put down others to make you feel special.
7/ Religious Grooming – Using religion scripture out of context to manipulate you whilst their character online is out of whack with what the religion teaches.
—- Learn the religion from proper reputable scholars so people can’t use the religion against you being ignorant to these things and always question stuff. Remember the devil knows religious scripture, not everyone who speaks it acts upon it.
8/ Praise – The saying ‘flattery will get you everywhere’ is there a for a reason. They will move very fast in the beginning of interacting with you, be intense, a lot of praise and compliments, say you’re their “friend” when you don’t feel like friends and you barely know them. ‘They’ve never felt like this before with someone’. If you’re a content creator sharing your content a lot with ulterior motives and praising it. Try to build you up to get you to like them and possibly become addicted to this particularly if you’re vulnerable, have low self-esteem and they are aware of this so they exploit it. After this they may try to put you down and lower your self-esteem and your confused to what’s going on and alternate between praising and putting you down.
—- Relationships take a while to develop and they should you don’t need to rush anything. Don’t seek validation online from people it leaves you open to exploitation. Work on yourself and your issues so you validate your own self and love yourself, in turn teaching people if they want to interact with you there has to be respect.
9/ Playing on your emotions and trying to use them against you – Guilt, fear, pity, sympathy, shame, outrage, anger, frustration, excitement, love, attention, stories which make them out to be a victim. They find out your weaknesses and vulnerabilities to use against you. They’ll twist what you say and turn it into something negative and try to make you believe it’s negative, that you’re bad or what you said was bad and make out like they’re doing nothing wrong but you can feel something is not right and something is up, don’t ignore your feelings about it.
—- See how much you can verify before believing what you read, people lie uncontrollably on the net. See how they run their social media people often put their thoughts down online you have to see if you want to associate with someone when you don’t even like how they act online. I cut people off quick time, I have zero tolerance for bullshit.
10/ Inappropriate – They’ll say inappropriate things particularly sexually inappropriate things to you to test what you’re willing to accept and how far they can take it with you.
—- BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES – Learn how to enforce them, don’t tell anyone what they are it’s for you and what you are willing to tolerate. If you say to someone I didn’t like what you said it made me uncomfortable/upset a healthy person would possibly apologise, say they didn’t know that and not do it again, toxic people will keep testing your boundaries. Stick to them and cut the person off if need be.
People can say abusers will read this and learn how to do it but I’ve already seen it happening. Abusive people are going to be abusive regardless and try to get away with what they can. If we don’t learn and understand the signs we won’t know how to protect ourselves, our loved ones and communities. Knowledge is power and Allah is our best protector.
Be aware, if they feel they’re being identified they change up their tactics.
I cannot stress this enough it does not just happen to young people it’s people of ALL ages.
Parents, older siblings, caregivers, teachers, elders have to be aware of what their kids and young people are doing online. People say don’t allow them online and I agree to an extent but I live in the real world where kids have smartphones and we don’t live in a bubble. I don’t want to isolate my children from others and the real world by wrapping them up in cotton wool. My aunt said, ‘we wrapped them up in cotton wool and then want them to go out to be big tough men’, it doesn’t work like that.
It’s a dumb way of trying to protect them without teaching them what it’s all about and giving them the tools to protect themselves. It’s better to teach them from young how to deal with things and people otherwise they are going to be in for a rude awakening when they have to go out into the real world. We can’t always protect them the way we want so we HAVE to teach them how to protect themselves.
They have to know they can come and speak to us and we listen to them and validate their feelings. So they feel seen and heard, so they can trust that we care for them and they’re not stupid or wrong or overreacting or making a fuss out of nothing. Pay attention, the world is moving fast and as we get older we know less about what’s going on with the younger generation and the changes taking place. We don’t want to be out of touch with reality.
Jimmy Savile was a paedophile and a predator that preyed on many people including disabled innocent children in hospital. He put himself into a position to access these people and people enabled, allowed and turned a blind eye to it. He was a pathetic old man who had no power except through others allowing it. There’s a documentary about him by Louis Theroux on Netflix that I recommend watching. It shows how inappropriate he acted and how he acted outlandish testing how much he could get away with.
There’s also the documentary Surviving R Kelly which shows how he groomed young women by using his fame, promising them singing careers and turning them against their parents.
Don’t spend too much time online, have a real life with real friends and family. Go places, take up a hobby, work, produce. May Allah protect us from these evil people and destroy them all and make their sins come to public and be held accountable in this life and the next Ameen Ameen Ameen.
The good thing about online is that evidence is left even if someone deletes it it can be retrieved plus there are more eyes on it the social media platforms, email platforms etc.
Threats, blackmail or any type of harassment should be taken seriously and should be documented with screenshots, timestamps and explanation to show patterns of behaviour when people try to hide their abuse. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING so you have something on record and a catalogue of material over time to verify your claims if you need take further action.
Feedback, additions, questions are welcome.
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