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I give numerous examples of coercive behaviours and what those behaviours can look like in my training; STAND a toolkit for the prevention of Grooming Behaviours, explaining how and why these behaviours are so often, easily missed. Grooming Behaviours; because I offer examples of manipulative, coercive and exploitative behaviours often overlooked because they are considered typical, everyday occurrences or they are hidden in plain sight. STAND being the prevention part of the training and is an acronym for Stop, Think, Act, Never Doubt.

Some of the examples given are quite obviously manipulative, while other examples are far more subtle, covert behaviours that even experienced professionals often fail to spot. It is imperative we understand these behaviours if we want to prevent them and teach others how to protect themselves.

During a pilot of STAND, I delivered presentations to numerous groups and organizations in England & Scotland , the feedback, always positive and yet the training, which is aimed at awareness and prevention, is not being offered  by any of them. One group, a local authority sub-committee, consisting of a group of 6 professional representatives including; Police, Social Services, NHS, Local Authority and Social Housing, all involved with the safeguarding of adults in one way or another.  After delivering an example of covert coercive behaviour, I asked the group,  “What do you think? Is this Coercive or is it simply business as usual?”.

As is often the case, the question was met with silent contemplation while the members of the group considered their response. Two of them considered it an example of manipulative or coercive behaviour, while the others weren’t entirely sure whether it was or not.  Those who weren’t sure, admitted they had never thought of the typical behaviour being presented to them,  in this way before, and said they found the insight quite alarming, which is excellent, because that’s the whole point of it, I find it quite alarming myself which is why I am driven to raise awareness of it and understand how we can prevent it. Having discussed the reasons why the example was considered coercive by some of the group, myself included, the whole group concluded it was indeed coercive behaviour.

Following the sub-committee presentation, the feedback received was again, entirely positive, which is always the case. As a result, I handed out the evaluation forms but rather than asking for feedback there and then, I requested the forms be emailed to me a week or so later, giving the group time to reflect on the information I’d provided. STAND is all about allowing people time to stop and think so they can reflect on the information and reach an informed decision.

The point of delivering these pilot presentations, for organizations to decide whether to offer the training to the public, with the intention of raising awareness of coercive and manipulative behaviours while providing a toolkit intended to protect and prevent peoples choices from being over-ridden. Sadly, not everyone believes they have a voice, not everyone is heard. Not everyone is confident enough to stand their ground even if they want to. We spend an incredible amount of time and effort paying lip-service to the ideas that everyone is equal, everyone has a right to be heard, everyone’s opinion is valid, everyone has the right to choose – ideas that are widely accepted and seldomly applied.

There are 6 questions on the evaluation form, the fifth question being, would you recommend the training for prevention?

Of the 6 people who attended, all 6 answered Yes to all but one of the questions.

Five of the group answered yes to every question with one of them answering both Yes and Don’t know to question 5.

One of the group answered Don’t Know to question 5.

All 6 answered Yes to question 6: Can you see how the training contributes to prevention of CSA?

If it is accepted that educating people potentially prevents them from falling victim to coercive or manipulative behaviours, thus saving them from having their choices over-ridden and having to suffer the consequences of someone else’s decisions, why is there uncertainty about recommending it? You either believe in it or you don’t. Is the fear of alarming people greater than the problem of people being manipulated, exploited, groomed, abused?

Although the answer regarding the uncertainty remains unanswered, I can only assume it is based in fear. Concerns that some people may be alarmed or may respond negatively if they are made aware of covert techniques and practices designed to influence decisions. My belief is that everyone should be made aware so they can identify for themselves, if their decisions are being influenced, empowering people to exercise their right to choose for themselves.

I am satisfied with the quality of the presentation? Yes No Don’t know
I found the information presented in S.T.A.N.D to be of benefit?
I am satisfied with the amount of learning gained in the time available?
I am satisfied with the presenter’s knowledge on the topic?
I would recommend S.T.A.N.D training for Prevention
I can see how S.T.A.N.D contributes to the prevention of Grooming Behaviours


Using fictitious characters to explain, I gave another more obvious example that I refer to in the training as Buyers Remorse, as explained below.

A Manipulator having had access to a Targets social media page, looks for information that they can use to their advantage, attempting to influence the Targets decision, by manipulating their thoughts and feelings. In the example given, the Target is said to be a huge Corrie Fan. For any reader who is unfamiliar with Corrie, (short for Coronation Street), it is the UKs longest running, and most watched TV soap, attracting an estimated 8 million regular viewers. From the Targets social media posts and interactions with friends, (nothing out of the ordinary) the manipulator is able to confidently deduce that the Target is a huge fan of the soap, observing they have a particular favourite character.

During what I refer to in the training as the process of Invisible Seduction, made up of many elements, the manipulator casually throws into the conversation a question relating to the Targets favourite soap;


 “I’ve been so busy the last few weeks  –  I’ve even had a few celebrities’ in ………………I don’t suppose you’re a Corrie fan are you? 

Seriously?  are you really? – how cool is that! 

You’ll never guess who was sitting in that very chair this time last week! (Insert name of Targets favourite celebrity here), That’s right!

 Actually, now I come to think of it – she (Targets favourite celebrity),  chose the exact same colour that I pointed out to you earlier. How spooky is that? 

I bet you’ll be sharing that with your friends on social media later; Telling them all about how you and (name of Targets favourite celeb) both buy your (product) from the very same person – they’ll be super jealous for sure!” 


In the example given, the manipulators celebrity story is said to be untrue. However, regardless of whether the manipulators story is true or not,  this is an example of coercive behaviour for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the Target is not privy to all the information. They are completely unaware that the manipulator has been observing their social media posts and is pre-armed with information about their viewing habits and interests. The manipulator deliberately withholds this information from the Target who is led to believe the story about the Corrie Celebrity is purely coincidental when in reality it was pre-planned.

The ONLY reason the Manipulator is telling the Target this story about their alleged encounter with a celebrity, is to try to influence the Target’s decision making, knowing they may be impressed by this celebrity, the manipulator uses the celebrity, to appeal to the Targets ego. This is very much about intention.

The information is dropped casually into the conversation, with the intention of convincing the Target that the manipulator has recalled the event there and then in the moment, which is untrue.

To the untrained eye the conversation appears to be just that, a pleasant and interesting conversation over a cup of coffee; potentially appealing to someone who is a huge fan of the celebrity, the coercive behaviour going completely undetected by the easily impressed Target.

In the example given, the Target, having had time to reflect,  comes to suspect they may have been coerced in some way, having committed to something they cannot afford and that they otherwise would not have committed to. Impossible to prove, and immediately pigeonholed by the manipulator as buyers remorse, who points out to the Target, they are an adult, they had a choice, thus making the Target responsible or at least complicit in the transaction.


Subliminal advertising has been illegal in the UK, America, and Australia since 1958, but has it really ever gone away?

Celebrities have endorsed products through marketing for many years. From Doris Day, Liz Taylor & John Wayne to David Beckham, George Clooney and Keira Knightly.  Mark Twain is reported to have co-branded pens as far back in the early 1900s. Currently, popular celebrities are used on social media, aiming to influence peoples decisions in a much more subtle way.

To give a topical example, I recently followed a Facebook page called David Attenborough Fans. Like many people, I respect and admire Sir David immensely.  I’ve liked and shared several posts depicting interesting and curious snaps of nature uncovered by the exceptionally talented broadcaster. I’ve noted however, that twice this week, posts showing a photo of Sir David carry the tagline, ‘David Attenborough has received his Covid Vaccine today,  slotted in between the other posts depicting scenes of nature. Is this tagline, which I consider to be none of my business. Is it there because it may be of interest to the fan group to know Sir David is one of millions currently being vaccinated or is there as a subtle attempt to influence decisions regarding an experimental vaccine? Are we being quietly persuaded to follow suit and do the same as someone we respect and admire,  in much the same way as the Target was being covertly persuaded in the previous example given? What is the intention behind it? Are other celebrity photo’s carrying this same tagline? if so,  why? Are the posts  intended to calm fears by suggesting this person has had it so its safe for you to have it too. Is this what usually happens when Sir David gets a flu jab let’s say? Is there an update on Facebook letting fans know or is such information normally considered confidential? Whatever the reason, such decisions should not be interfered with in anyway, We are individuals, we each have our own views, beliefs and opinions.  Decisions, whether they concern our health and wellbeing,  the products we buy, the programmes we watch or the food that we eat,  must be left to the individual to decide for themselves without  push or persuasion, true for all situations. As individuals we are each responsible for the decisions we make. We must each live with the consequences of our decisions, and therefore we must each be allowed to reach decisions freely, without covert interference from those who stand to gain.

I’m interested to hear your views on this if you are willing to share.

As human beings we are all equal. Regardless of financial status, job title, background or the stories people tell themselves about how important they imagine they are – we are all equal as human-beings.

As such, every single one of us, regardless of age, have the right to choose freely. Our human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998.

Deliberately withholding information, deliberately employing techniques that are designed to influence a persons thoughts and feelings, with the intention of achieving results that benefit the manipulator, whether the manipulator happens to be an individual, a company, organization or a government, is an infringement of a persons basic human rights.

Choice, free will – this is extremely important, please ensure you exercise your right to choose freely.

You can find more information about the training,  STAND a toolkit for the prevention of Grooming Behaviours, a CPD certified instructor course, by following the link below.