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Asking About Manipulation in the Forensic Interview

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2019
2 pages

Understanding manipulation (also known as grooming) and targeting the nuances of both psychological and physical manipulation during the forensic interview helps children who may have been sexually abused provide a more complete account of their experiences.


Questioning suspected child sexual abuse victims can be facilitated when investigating interviewers have a broad understanding of techniques for grooming a child for sexual abuse. Commonly identified stages of child manipulation by groomers include victim selection, access establishment, rapport/trust development, and systematic disinhibition and desensitization. Once contact with a child is established, offenders often engage in systematic disinhibition and desensitizing activities. Such activities may include cursing, telling inappropriate jokes, showing inappropriate videos/photos, and introducing increasingly intimate physical contact. Children can experience a wide range of emotions in the course of grooming activities by the offender, so a non-judgmental  attitude by the interviewer can facilitate greater sharing by victims of grooming behaviors by an offender.


Date Published: September 1, 2019