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Stockholm Sndrome

What happened in a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973 lead to the discovery of a certain human condition called “Stockholm Syndrome.” There’s actually no definite scientific explanation or proof about the existence of this behavior but the emergence of cases that manifest it are startling many people including psychologists, scientists, and criminologists.


By definition, it is a paradoxical psychological phenomenon that happens when a victim feels, expresses, and manifests adoration towards her abuser. What’s very intriguing and perhaps disturbing about this behavior is that the victim, as it usually appears, should have a feeling of fear and anger towards the abuser because of the imminent danger posed by the latter to the former’s life. But what occurs is the exact opposite. The victim who has the “Stockholm syndrome” becomes irrational to the extent that she seeks for the kindness and affection from the abuser and finds it when the latter starts to either limit or stop the abuse or threat.


In the context of child abuse and molestation, there have been a lot of cases that involve child victims experiencing the same kind of condition. While most child psychiatrists and experts assert that it is more rational to explain the liking of a child to her abuser as a form of survival instinct, we cannot refute the reality that these poor children are utterly denied of their right to live a happy life.


If you have been a victim of molestation when you were a child, it is very painful to look back at those dark memories. But think of it as a way to help other children who may be molested anytime. By studying and knowing the causes and effects of Stockholm syndrome, we have a great chance of addressing the issue and perhaps help other people who have it.


Recall things based on what you felt and experienced during that gruesome period. Who was your abuser?QuotationWho was your abuser?Quotation
Was he a close acquaintance, relative, or a total stranger? Did he sexually abuse you? If so, was there any point in time when you realized your life is threatened?


As you answer these questions, go ahead and read through the usual signs of Stockholm syndrome:

  • The victim generally starts to build positive feelings for or towards her abuser.
  • The victim starts to tolerate the sexual abuse done to her by the abuser.
  • The victim interprets the molestation as a form of affection and care coming from the abuser.
  • The abuser starts to generate a caring and loving attitude towards the victim and his treatment to the child transforms into a positive one.

Based on research conducted on different groups and nature of victims, for instance, hostages, battered women, rebel captives, and incest victims, the behavior is not considered as a scientific fact but rather a phenomenon that may happen to anyone. It is chiefly based on human instinct of survival wherein a victim views the situation in a more positive way for the objective of making it out alive.

Now let’s continue by painting a common picture of what takes place in the world of the child victim and her molester/abuser. After which, we build up a kind of scenario that explains the occurrence of the syndrome.


The first step by the abuser is to threaten and terrify the child. By doing this, he assures himself that the potential victim is not able to escape or call anyone for help. In simple terms, isolation is established. At first, basic human instinct tells you to be terrified and be very afraid, right? And by remembering the first days of your captivity, you were very afraid, that’s for sure. Especially when the abuser is someone you don’t know or perhaps someone whom you know and whom you are afraid to be with even before. A few moments later, all your fears come into fruition as he starts to touch you, make you do something you don’t want, or let you perform sexual favors. Even though you are at such a young and innocent age, you feel that you are abused and molested. The fear starts to cripple your body and you think of no other things than ending it all up. You build a feeling that the abuser is someone who is evil, cruel, and deadly. This is the first scenario.


Let’s go back and recall everything all over again. This time, the abuser starts his business by threatening and intimidating the child in you. At such a very young age of 9 or 10 perhaps, you have no choice but to follow all his commands. He is assured that you’re not escaping and you’re telling anyone. You and he are alone. At first, basic human instinct tells you again to be fearful and terrified. And as you start to recall the next events, you then realized: you were not afraid. You were terrified and because of that, you needed something or someone for protection and care. But remember, you’re alone with your abuser. What happened next is you unknowingly create a kind of hope within yourself. This hope is manifested by your perception that the abuser may be the one who can provide you with the protection and care you need. Since there’s no one else but the both of you, you have no choice. By then, after physically and sexually abusing you, he gives you a piece of bread and water. You’re exhausted and hungry and you start to view the giving as an illustration of kindness. You’re starting to build a more positive image for the same person who abused you.


This may all seem very disturbing, but they’re all true. As we go on, you now strongly believe that he will not kill you as long as you keep him happy. And by doing so, you allow him to abuse you and talk to you, poison your mind into liking him, and all that misleading stuff. Remember that at such a tender age, you are very young, vulnerable, and almost ignorant. There’s no greater force within you at that very moment than the instinct of surviving. You unconsciously refer to him as someone who is destined to be with you and you take on anything what he says as knowledge and enlightenment. Without you realizing it, you’re placed into a sort of hypnotic thinking that there is no more reason to leave or escape. Finally, you are integrated onto his life. Absorbed, victimized, consumed. This is the second scenario.


For some, Stockholm syndrome happens to people who do not have enough knowledge, strength, and strong personality to combat the condition of being a hopeless victim. No matter how painful it is, we have to accept the fact that this phenomenon often occurs to child molestation victims since they are the softest and most vulnerable.QuotationNo matter how painful it is, we have to accept the fact that this phenomenon often occurs to child molestation victims since they are the softest and most vulnerable.Quotation
Acquiescing to the abuser’s demands is not the last resort for survival. But for a child, it is.

If you know someone who’s a victim of child molestation and is experiencing the syndrome, you can help out by giving these short details about the condition:

  • If the child denies to herself the sexual abuse and molestation done to her by the abuser, it is a desperate but natural attempt to find hope that the situation is not that evil and the abuser might someday provide her love and care.
  •  If the child victim is shameful about the molestation experience, this is because the abuser instilled to her mind that she deserved it.
  • If the victim starts to justify the abuse done to her, it is an unfortunate sign that the abuser has successfully built a relationship with her.
  • If the victim rejects any idea or attempt to escape or be freed by other people, then that’s because she’s afraid the abuser might kill her or view it as a form of dishonesty and disloyalty.
  • If the victim starts to show that she missed the abuser even years after the abuse, then it is a very alarming sign that she has fallen in love with her abuser or perhaps desperately needed his company after getting used to it after years of captivity.

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