It’s often takes  a lot of work for Black women to find healthy, long-lasting relationships. The search to find the right partner can be tedious. Black love is the ultimate goal. But, the unsettling truth is that perpetrators of abuse can camouflage their manipulative tactics to lure women into relationships. Often, easily manipulating their toxic behaviors to appear to be love but are actually signs of grooming. 

Recently, Cassie, singer, songwriter and dancer, initiated legal action against Diddy in federal court. Allegations surfaced when she accused the hip-hop figure of rape and prolonged cycles of abuse that started when Cassie was only 19 years old. As a former R&B artist under contract with Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, Cassie’s lawsuit accuses him of abuses including sex trafficking, human trafficking, sexual battery, sexual assault, and gender-based violence, among several other legal assertions.

According to the legal documents, the claim outlines that Diddy’s controlling behavior took root on their initial interaction back in 2005. Post her signing with Diddy’s record label, the lawsuit alleges that he wielded complete authority over numerous parts of Cassie’s life, including her living arrangements, vehicles, attire, and even medical documentation. His control severely restricted her independence, safety and sense of self. 

Their story, once seemingly picture-perfect, and considered relationship goals in the early 2000’s, was uncovered for deceitful tactics of grooming. Grooming is manipulative behavior designed to control and dominate.

Chase Cassine, a Black licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, states groomers often deal with mental disorders like narcissism, PTSD, and sexual trauma, though this is no excuse for their behavior. He also believes that because Black women are often unprotected and marginalized, they are more easily preyed upon by groomers. Cassine notes we live in a patriarchal society where young women are vulnerable and prone to abuse.

Here are common grooming signs to avoid.

Love Bombing 

Watch for abrupt changes in behavior, such as expressing an intense and immediate connection with their partner or if your friend is being showered with excessive praise, often idealizing the relationship. Notice if they start isolating themselves from friends and family, spending an excessive amount of time with their partner and possibly neglecting other aspects of their life. 

Another red flag is if a person is making sudden commitments to future plans or major life decisions emerging early in the relationship. If you notice mood swings, financial dependence, or the dismissal of concerning behavior from their partner, these might also be indicators. Approaching the situation with empathy and offering non-judgmental support can help them feel comfortable seeking guidance or assistance if needed.

Filling Needs 

Pay attention if the individual is receiving an unusually high level of support from their partner. This includes their partner seemingly catering to various needs: emotional, financial, or practical. If the person you know becomes increasingly dependent on their partner for essential aspects of their life, be aware. Pay attention to if they begin relinquishing control over decisions regarding their living situation, clothing choices, or social activities. These signs could signify a concerning pattern. 

Secret Keeping 

Notice if the person you know becomes unusually secretive about their relationship. Are they avoiding discussions or withholding information about their partner’s behavior? They might hide information about their partner from friends and family, or become defensive when questioned about them. Also, watch for signs of stress or anger when you bring up their relationship, or begin withdrawing from their community. Engaging in supportive conversations and creating a safe space for open dialogue can encourage them to feel comfortable discussing their concerns and seeking assistance. 


Changes in social behaviors or patterns, such as a sudden withdrawal from social activities, frequent cancellations of plans with friends or family, or expressing fear or anxiety about interacting with others can be a sign of isolation. If someone is showing signs of isolation, try to maintain open lines of communication with them and trusted individuals in their life. Seeking support from their friends, family, or helplines can be crucial in breaking the cycle of isolation. 

As grooming progresses, it can escalate into outright abuse and control. But a woman’s power lies in recognizing these red flags and seeking support. Understanding the nuances of grooming is pivotal in empowering ourselves and our communities from cycles of abuse. Embrace awareness, education, and your support systems.

Grooming varies  in methods used but often follows specific patterns. As Black women and women of color, it’s essential to understand that grooming isn’t an immediate process. Rather, it unfolds gradually through six stages.

The 6 Stages of Grooming

  1. Victim Selection: Groomers begin by observing potential victims by assessing their accessibility and vulnerability. For instance, they might target women with challenging pasts, seeking those who are easier to approach or manipulate.
  2. Building Initial Rapport: Groomers also initiate contact by appearing friendly or engaging in casual conversations. Their charm and kindness create a sense of comfort, gradually gaining the victim’s trust.
  3. Cultivating Trust: Once rapport is established, groomers intensify their efforts by showering the victim with praises, gifts, and exclusive attention. They create an illusion of being special or valued through shared secrets and one-on-one time.
  4. Isolation: Groomers start pulling victims away from their support systems, intentionally isolating them from family and friends. Isolation elevates the groomer as the most trusted companion.
  5. Normalizing Abusive Behavior: Groomers introduce subtle, inappropriate touches or boundary violations. After gaining their victims’ trust and cutting off their connections, they desensitize the victim to non consensual sexual advances. They may also expose victims to explicit content or substances.
  6. Establishing and Maintaining Control: At the final stage, groomers exploit the closeness they established to manipulate and control the victim. This can manifest through coercive demands for sexual acts, blackmailing for favors, or even resorting to physical violence.

Grooming varies  in methods used but often follows specific patterns. As Black women and women of color, it’s essential to understand that grooming isn’t an immediate process. Rather, it unfolds gradually, with distinct warning signs.