Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre_Parent Support Handbook

Who Sexually Abuses Children?

8 out of 10 children who are sexually abused know their abuser

Although strangers can and do sexually abuse children, in 8 out of 10 child sexual abuse cases, the victim knows their abuser. Known abusers can include anyone, from family and extended family members to someone in the family’s circle of trust, such as coaches, babysitters, family friends etc. Offenders come from all genders, classes, racial backgrounds, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations. Some abusers are other children and youth - it is important to know the difference between normal child sexual exploration and sexual abuse among children (see page 8 for more information).


Some offenders may use threats and physical force to sexually assault or abuse a child. More commonly, grooming is used as a subtle, gradual, and escalating process of building trust with a child/adolescent in order to use the trust of the relationship in order to abuse the child/adolescent and/or to keep the abuse a secret.

Common Grooming Strategies

 Identifying with the child/adolescent - making the abuser appear to be the only one who understands him/her  Displaying common interests in sports, music, movies, video games, television shows, etc.  Recognizing and filling the child/adolescent’s need for affection and attention  Allowing the child/adolescent to break rules  Giving gifts or special privileges to the child/adolescent.

Purpose of Grooming

• To manipulate how other adults around the child perceive the relationship • To manipulate the child into co-operating with the abuse • To create a relationship with the child that makes them less likely to disclose (e.g., they don’t want to get the person “in trouble”) • To reduce the likelihood of the child being believed if they do disclose • To reduce the likelihood of someone finding out about the abuse

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