Perpetrators of sexual violence
against adult victims recognise that the opportunity to gain access to a
potential victim is often through gaining an individual’s confidence.
Adult grooming applies to any behaviour where an
adult is prepared by a perpetrator, or perpetrators, of sexual violence so they
unwittingly allow abusive behaviour or exploitation to occur at a later date.
Perpetrators overcome external
factors by inserting themselves into a position which gives them valid reason to
gain the confidence of a victim, and the opportunity to have a prolonged
timeframe to get physically close to the victim that would not arouse suspicion.
Statistics suggest a common
factor in adult grooming cases is that the perpetrator is well known to the victim, and is able to
exert power and control over them, such as a family member, domestic partner, close friend, doctor, or employer.
A doctor, for
example, may place a patient, who may be vulnerable, in a situation where they
are able to be isolated and creates an environment where they can use their
power to undertake an unnecessary intimate physical examination without their
judgement being questioned. Sexual
violence can occur within domestic relationships, such as marriage. Marital rape is defined as
non-consensual sexual contact perpetrated against a spouse, for example one partner manipulates the other to obtain sex through
emotional blackmail by saying “if you loved me, would have sex with me”.
Poverty may force a
person into becoming a sex worker. The likelihood pf a perpetrator committing
an act of sexual violence against a sex worker is increased, and justified by
the belief that a sex worker cannot be raped. This is evidenced in the typical
stereotypes and myths which surround the justification of sexual violence.
Culture can also enable perpetrators of sexual
violence to gain access to their victim. For example, Zimbabwean culture has a
custom known as chimutsamapfiwa (wife inheritance), where when a wife dies obligation is passed
to her sister to take her place.
Perpetrators may also utilise social
media to make contact with victims, with the objective of persuading the victim
to participate in online, and offline, sexual activity. This may involve the
sending of suggestive photographs of themselves; exposing themselves on a webcam;
or arranging to meet in person.