The Understanding behind protecting your abuser

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Many people wonder why victims  of domestic abuse stay or protect their abuser. In my book, “Surviving Domestic Abuse Formal and Informal Supports and Services” I addressed this head on, categorizing it as Stockholm Syndrome. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, I highly encourage you to, but let’s also shine light on this phenomenon below.

How Stockholm Syndrome Works

Typically the term was coined to discuss a hostage / hostagee dynamic, however this type of dynamic, I parrelled in my book, demonstrates the same type of emotional traumatic dynamic between victim and their abuser.  

Stockholm Syndrome usually happens because of certain dynamics within the relationship that unfortunately involves domestic violence. Here is a small list from ‘Good Therapy’ on what can contribute to the development of this syndrome in such a dynamic:

  • The condition can develop when victims of abuse believe there is a threat to their physical or psychological survival, and they also believe their abusers would carry out that threat.
  • When victims of kidnapping are treated humanely or simply allowed to live, they often feel grateful and attribute positive qualities to their captors believing that they are, indeed, good people.
  • Intermittent good/bad behavior can create trauma bonds. Stockholm syndrome is a form of trauma bond, where the victims “wait out” the bad behaviors for the “crumbs” of good behaviors bestowed on them.
  • Victims are isolated from others. When people are in abusive systems, such as a kidnapping situation, access to outside input and communication is limited and restricted, or even nonexistent. This way, only the perpetrators’ input is allowed. 

Stockholm syndrome is also accepted by scholars as a survival strategy for victims. They often believe it is necessary to protect the abuser in fear that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have heard before and oftentimes fear intense retaliation.

I’ve also discussed a little bit about this further over on my Social Media Platforms:  particularly on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I highly encourage you to follow me there and check out some of my past content for more information.

Sources: “Why Stockholm Syndrome Happens and How to Help” By GoodTherapy

“Why do victims stay?” by NCADV 

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