Perpetrators of sexual abuse and online sex trafficking in Thailand now find a large number of unsuspecting victims on the internet. The online world of social media, messaging services, and online gaming provide numerous opportunities for predators and abusers to hide and manipulate unprepared children. Prior to the internet an abuser was limited to targeting children that were geographically near to them. The vast reach of the internet and the almost infinite amount of websites, games and social media groups built around different interests and hobbies allows abusers access to an unlimited amount of children. A single abuser can easily be pursuing hundreds of potential child victims at a time.
Children are slowly acclimatized to vulnerable situations through an intentionally manipulative psychological process called grooming. In the world of online abuse and exploitation, abusers often pretend to be potential romantic partners to lure in teen victims. The grooming process starts with the abuser setting the stage for their planned abuse by building trust with their intended victim. This is often accomplished through gifts and favors like clothes, food or a new phone.
Once trust is built they work to alienate their victim from their family and any support system that might step in to prevent the abuse, by involving them in illegal drug use, criminal activity or even in the abuse of another person. The shame and guilt combined with the alienation from their family and support system leave the child at the mercy of their abuser.
Eventually the relationship between the abuser and the victim becomes a power dynamic where fear is used to create dependency on the abuser. Children who have been manipulated are held hostage by the threat of being exposed and bringing shame to themselves and their families.