Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stockholm Syndrome

I'm writing this post because so many people do not understand the effects of long term abuse, and how and why sexual abuse can occur for long periods of time without the victim coming forward.
Someone said to me today about a boy in the newspaper who was sexually abused by a coach from the time he was ten until his late teens that the boy must have "liked it" for the abuse to have happened for such a long period of time without the boy coming forward. The abuser had threatened to kill the boys family if he told. I was outraged by the comment, and it is why I'm here writing this post.

Emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. This is often called "Stockholm Syndrome."

The Stockholm Syndrome comes into play when a victim cannot escape and is isolated and threatened with death, but is shown token acts of kindness by the abuser. It typically takes about three or four days for the psychological shift to take hold.

A strategy of trying to keep your abuser happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the abuser which has the result of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormenter!

The syndrome explains what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behavior of battered spouses, members of religious cults, Holocaust victims, and long term sexual abuse survivors.

In order for Stockholm syndrome to occur in any given situation, at least three traits must be present:
•A severely uneven power relationship in which the abuser dictates what the victim can and cannot do
•The threat of death or physical injury to the victim or their families at the hands of the abuser
•A self-preservation instinct on the part of the victim

­­Included in these traits are the victims belief (correct or incorrect, it doesn't matter) that he or she cannot escape, which means that survival must occur within the rules set by the all-powerful abuser.


T.J. said...

Had happened to me and then family wants to know why I let him over. Frustrating!!!!!!

Angela said...

I understand. Incest survivors often struggle with the fact that they can still care for the abuser, and often protects that person. Keep fighting! I'm so proud of you :-)

one brave duck said...

thank u for writing this. it was just what i needed to read today, c.

Sia Jane said...

The blame/shame is always on the abuser.
In any case of abuse, the victim needs to find a way to survive.
Often this involves submission.
That does not mean that any one *asks* for this or *could have done more* for it not to happen.
Very important post <3

covnitkepr1 said...

I write and maintain a spiritual blog which I have titled “AccordingtotheBook” and I’d like to invite you to follow it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Angela but I dont think people can really understand if they have never been there. That is just one thing that is very hard to admit. tj

John Buchanan said...

Angela, yet another outstanding piece of writing from you as you travel bravely forward. Thank you.

Emmy said...

although I still don't consider my abuse to have been so bad, I can definitely relate to this. Even fours years after my abusive relationship, I at times still want to turn to my ex for comfort. I appreciate this post, people need to be informed.