Curated from: Learn - shy
If you’ve read about sexual grooming from our previous article, and unfortunately, the signs look familiar to something you’ve experienced in your own life or someone who is close to you, this article can guide you on how to handle the situation better.
With any form of abuse or emotional trauma, recognising the signs is a great first step. This means you can then take the necessary steps to process it and heal from this episode.
Addressing your emotional needs
For a lot of cases of sexual grooming, the psychological manipulation might cause the victim to not even know that they’ve been groomed until years later.
According to Grace Tame — activist and advocate for survivors of sexual assault and Australian of the Year 2021, it is important for survivors to have an avenue where their voices can be heard. This has benefits for the victims themselves as it gives them a chance to heal and place the blame where it belongs — on their perpetrators, while also raising awareness for this issue in society in order to reduce its frequency.
Speaking out can start by reaching out to those nearest and dearest, be it friends or family, especially if they were also close to you during the period of time when the grooming happened. If you’re still a minor, approach a trusted adult, ask for their advice, and you could also work on developing a safety plan together on how to best keep yourself safe.
Childhood sexual grooming and potentially abuse can also manifest themselves in other psychological issues in survivors, such as:
Troubling thoughts and feelings of self-blame, guilt, or low self-esteem
Unhelpful coping strategies such as self-harm or eating problems
Developing unhealthy relationship styles
Going to therapy for these can help you to build healthy skills that will be of use in multiple aspects of your life. Such skills include learning to develop trust, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, and feeling more secure and safe with yourself.
Check out these options for therapy!
If you are thinking of taking legal action,
Rest assured that Singapore’s laws do offer protection for victims of sexual grooming and abuse. Here are the steps to take:
Collect your evidence: this includes whatever forms of interaction that you’ve had with the perpetrator over all social and messaging channels. Take screenshots of the person’s username/ID as well as the sexual messages before blocking them online.
Report to the social media platform where the grooming took place: This is so that the platform can also take the necessary actions to remove that user from the platform to prevent them from engaging in the same behaviour towards other users.
Bring your evidence to the police: Once you’ve collected all your evidence, bring it to the nearest police station and lodge a report.
Singaporean laws on sexual grooming
Sexual grooming occurs when an offender of or above 18 years old meets another person under 16 years old with the intention of having sex, where the offender had previously met or communicated with him/her at least 1 time.
The penalties for this offence is up to 3 years’ jail and/or a fine. However, if the victim had been below 14 years old, and you had not reasonably believed that the victim was or above that age, then the maximum jail term is increased to 4 years.
On the other hand, if you had been grooming minors of or above 16 but below 18 years old, and had been in an exploitative relationship with them, you may be convicted of exploitative sexual grooming under section 376EA of the Penal Code instead.
If the victim had been sexually abused, learn about the steps to take and legal repercussions from this article.
How can I prevent being sexually groomed?
Take note of your digital footprint
Be conscious about everything that you post online, as predators can access your content from whichever platform and piece together details they collected, such as your frequented locations and interests.
Be very careful before meeting someone online
We get that the occasional DM from someone cute on Instagram can be kinda flattering, but always make sure to do a detailed analysis of that person’s profile!! Especially if the content on that account is sparse. And this is even more important on more anonymous platforms like Discord, Reddit, or online gaming servers.
It’s good to do a reverse search based on what that person told you, or any pictures that they’ve uploaded. You’ll never know who those photos belong to, or if they even belong to the person that you are talking to.
If you’ve done an initial background screen and feel like you can trust that person enough to meetup, always let some of your loved ones know where you’re going, with who, and only agree to meet in a public, crowded place.
For more on keeping safe when using dating apps, check this article out.
Always be mindful of your own boundaries
Don’t commit to doing things you are uncomfortable with, especially in the area of sexual activities. A true friend or partner (or even any person with good intentions, for that matter!) would definitely not pressure you to do anything you don’t want. If your gut feeling tells you that something is off, just run!!
For professional help and counselling, do reach out to TOUCH Cyber Wellness services at their hotline 1800 377 2252.