U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

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.