Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
This study explored the lived experiences of adult women who were sexually groomed online as an adolescent, to understand the experiences in online grooming from initial contact to contact ending. The theory used to guide this study was sociometer theory. Sociometer theory looks at self-esteem as the cause for why individuals want to seek and maintain relationships. This theory also explains why individuals choose certain social relationships. While the victim or the offender may have a fear of acceptance, they will potentially look for relationships that accept or approve of them. The research question for this study examined female adolescent experiences in online grooming from beginning to contact ending, through interviews with 8 women. Several themes emerged to answer the research question. Positive feelings, belonging, feeling of being understood, betrayal, relationship closure (awareness). Results of the study revealed that adolescents are affected by the process of online sexual grooming psychologically from initial contact with their groomer, whether the feeling is from a positive feeling given or by the sense of belonging in a friendship. All contact ending revealed an increase of awareness of how their groomers were trying to manipulate them in some way. This study provides an understanding of what tactics the offenders used to lure victims, what impressed the victims about their offenders, and at what stage the participant realized that the online relationship was not of the norm.