Ask Sam letter


To Sam

I've been online groomed, who can I ask for support?

Hello Sam, I have been online groomed for 11 months and I noticed that I started having symptoms of PTSD, so I kept a diary about it. It's been a month and I thought about taking some online quizzes to see if it's possible. I took from 3 to 5 tests and they say it's likely. If I tell my parents, they will be super mad at me and I don't know what to do. I was thinking about talking to a teacher, but online grooming is still a topic, where if I say that I've been a victim, it'll be blamed on me. I know the teacher I want to talk to, won't blame me, but I don't know if I should talk about it with some adult (my friends could blame me) or I should try healing with self-help books and through self-care. Thank you for reading. It'd be helpful if you replied

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Grooming is when one person takes advantage of another person and tries to get them to do sexual things. This is usually an adult but can be an older young person with a younger child as well. You can be groomed both online or in person.

It's never your fault if you’re the one being groomed. Often you may not know you're being groomed until it’s too late.

One of the techniques people use when grooming is to make it feel like you are to blame for what's happening. They may do this to try and stop you from speaking out and getting help. It’s a good idea to speak to an adult you can trust to ask for help.

The person grooming you might make you feel like you had chances to say no, when really you didn't. They are always in the wrong as they know what they're doing is not okay. Grooming isn't something a person does to someone by accident, they are deliberately trying to manipulate you. That is never your fault.

The effects of grooming on you while it’s happening will be different for everyone. Some people feel good about the relationship with the abuser because they might be getting gifts or made to feel special. Often this can feel like a happy time because they are making you feel special, so later you might be more likely to do what they want. Sometimes people can also feel pressured or stressed - especially if the person grooming you has moved on to the stage where they begin to ask you for things you don't want to do.

Once the abuse has ended and you're no longer in contact with them, that's not usually the end of it. The effects of what they've done can stay with you for a while and you may need more support than friends and family can give you alone.

Professional help from a therapist or counsellor is usually a good place to start. You can get this through your GP - though it will mean telling them about what happened.

It's a good idea to think about how you might share this with friends and family. It's common for people who've been groomed to feel like they're going to get into trouble. Try to remember you've done nothing wrong - being groomed means that you didn't have control over everything that happened to you. If you're worried about your parents’ reaction you could show them the NSPCC advice about online grooming which might help them understand.

As always Childline counsellors are there for you to talk to if you need support - it might help to practice talking about this with them first. You can also speak to other young people on the Childline message boards, if you don’t feel able to speak to your friends. Thanks for sharing this with me.

Take care.


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