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How Abusers Groom Victims into Accepting Abuse

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There is an explosion in pop culture TV right now depicting how abusers are grooming their victims for abuse and I have mixed feelings about it.

Consider the following recent examples:

  • Surviving R. Kelly, a multi-part documentary, details the long history of singer R.Kelly’s physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and exploitation of girls and women. He had even established such a high level of psychological control over a handful of them, he isolated them in his homes and had total domination over their lives. 
  • Abducted in Plain Sight, another documentary, is about a man who spent two and a half years ingratiating himself with an entire family. He manipulates them all in shocking ways before developing a sexual and emotional relationship with the 12-year old daughter–and kidnapping her twice. 
  • Dirty John, a television series, dramatizes a true story about a man with a long and varied criminal history who creates the fake persona of a surgeon, sweeps a well-off woman off her feet, and convinces her to marry him in a few short weeks before things eventually turn violent.

The victims in these stories are all very different from one another, but what these stories all have in common is that they illustrate a similar pattern of abuse because the perpetrators are all very similar. In each situation, a charismatic man targeted the victims…


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Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.


  1. Hey Kristen my recovery moving forward I’m happy to say im in a much better place with much credit going to yourself being identifiable
    The other great thing is my 21 yr old daughter is armed with this information and sees it in plain sight nothing like this will pass her without it raising a red flag to her.
    That makes me extremely happy she can also verify his behaviour with me which has helped her.
    Thanks x

  2. Hi Kristen I love to read your emails when they arrive
    I agree totally with what you are saying
    I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday about how many tv shows were showing this
    As long as it helps people it’s a good thing but like yourself I believe it can look like the victim has always had the ability to walk away,which just isn’t the case
    When I think of my own experience it definitely wasn’t as clear cut as that.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hi Reet: I’m so glad you enjoy the articles so much. Yes, I think the television shows are a break-through at depicting that these types of people and relationships can exist, so there’s that. Maybe it’s just the first step, and hopefully, over time there will be a little more information about the nature of exploitation. Thank you for your message. I hope you’re doing well. -Kristen

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