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Emmerdale - Barnardo’s explains why abused Jacob tells Maya that ‘he loves her’

Release Date: 07 Feb 2019

Guilt and shame - these are two of the reasons why vulnerable and confused grooming victims might believe they love their abuser, Barnardo’s experts explain following the latest development in the Emmerdale teacher/pupil abuse storyline.

In Thursday’s (7 February) episode increasingly vulnerable Jacob, tells manipulative Maya that he loves her.

In the soap, teacher Maya, (Louisa Clein) is in a relationship with David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden), but she has been seen kissing and grooming 15-year-old Jacob, (Joe-Warren Plant), David’s adopted son.

Maya has been using familiar grooming tactics, playing with Jacob’s affection for months, emotionally blackmailing her pupil to keep quiet about their illicit liaisons.

When abusers befriend and groom a child, they create emotional ties whereby the child believes them to be their boyfriend or girlfriend and believes they are in a loving ‘relationship’ initially.

A bond is often formed and children will often experience extreme feelings of guilt and a desire to be loyal to the abuser who will try to sever or damage relationships with their family and friends to create a sense of ‘us and them’.

Abusers will particularly draw on children’s feelings of loneliness, their need for care, and their desire to be loved. Children will feel shame and be made to feel they are to blame – that they led the person on.

To help Emmerdale tell the abuse storyline authentically, Barnardo’s arranged for their researchers, story team, actors Louisa, Matthew and Joe-Warren, to meet experts and young men who have experienced child sexual abuse and been supported by Barnardo’s.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

When a young person is manipulated, controlled or forced into taking part in a sexual act, that is sexual abuse. Even if the young person thinks it’s a consensual relationship, it is still abuse.

Vulnerable young people may think that their abuser is their friend, or even their boyfriend or girlfriend. But in reality they may force the young person to do things they don’t want to do. They can put them into dangerous situations and may even be violent.

Sadly, thousands of children and young people across the UK are being sexually abused every year.

In 2017-18, Barnardo’s supported 3,300 children, young people, parents and carers, through our child sexual exploitation direct support services.

Based on its work with victims of sexual exploitation, Barnardo’s has identified four stages that tend to occur at some point within the grooming and exploitation process:

■ Targeting stage

■ Friendship-forming stage

■ Loving stage

■ The abusive stage

The grooming process:

Targeting the victim

A groomer will identify a vulnerability within the intended victim. Children with limited supported from trusted adults and/or less involved parents are more desirable, although all young people by their very nature are potential victims.

Gaining the victim’s trust

The groomer gains their victim’s trust by working out what the child’s needs are and how to fill them. They may make the child feel understood and valued.

Filling a need

The groomer may then fill the void in the child’s needs. They may provide drink, drugs, somewhere to stay, thoughtful gifts, – but most significantly, the groomer will make the child feel loved and special.

Isolating the child

The groomer may encourage the child to sever protective contacts with family and friends and assume a protective and understanding position.

Sexualising the relationship

After the emotional attachment and trust of the child has been obtained, the groomer progressively sexualises the relationship. Desensitisation of the child may occur through talking, watching pornography and having sexual contact. The child may begin to see their relationship in more special terms.

Maintaining control

Once the sexual abuse has begun, child sex abusers use secrecy, blame and threats to manipulate the child into silence and participation. Threats may be made against the child’s family and friends. The abuser may also threaten to circulate indecent/ abusive images.

Better Futures Cymru

To help Emmerdale tell the abuse storyline authentically, Barnardo’s arranged for their researchers, story team and actors to meet experts and young men who have been supported by a Barnardo’s project called Better Futures Cymru. The workshops were focussed on enabling Emmerdale to understand how the characters would be feeling or behaving.

Better Futures Cymru provides therapeutic services for children and young people from across Wales with sexualised histories, including young people who have been the victims of sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation.

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