As mentioned last week, FBI researchers concluded that there are three factors that are necessary for the syndrome to develop. First, the crisis situation has to last for several days or longer. This is almost always the case when a human trafficker is preparing a victim for the life ahead of them. Sometimes torture, rapes, beatings or other methods of control are ongoing for months before the victim can be trusted to work in the surrounding area and come back to the human trafficker with her earnings.
Second, the captor has to stay in contact with the victim. The captor cannot have someone else perform the abuse or grooming on the victim if they expect the victim to show loyalty toward them. Although the abusers can solicit help (and often do), they must be intimately involved with the grooming and manipulation of the victim to ensure a strong bond between themselves and the victim develops. This Trauma Bond is common between abusers and their victims, which is why abused spouses or children often feel a close connection to their abuser. Often victims feel that their power lies inside of their abuser and without that person in their life, they are essentially powerless. In the same way, the victim of a human trafficker feels that no one will ever be able understand what they have been through like their abuser can. Unfortunately, in an unhealthy sense, this is accurate. Patrick J Carnes, PhD has written an extraordinarily insightful book entitled, “The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships,” which we recommend for further reading on this topic.
Third, the captors have to show some type of kindness (or what may seem like kindness at the time) toward the victim. Human Traffickers or Pimps often offer their victims something desired in order to lure them into the relationship. Although these are not always empty promises, they come at a great and unexpected cost. For example, the Pimp may tell their victim that they will take care of them financially, meeting all of their monetary needs. Although the Pimp may feed, clothe and provide lodging for the victim, they hide the fact that the victim will have to sell their body to strangers and surrender all earnings in order to earn what has been promised. Mixing the truth with inconceivable lies creates such emotional confusion and frustration for the victim that it may take years of rehabilitation before they can begin to think clearly and accurately about interpersonal relationships again. However, with the proper tools and isolation from the abuser, healing is possible.
Now that we better understand how victims of Human Trafficking develop Stockholm Syndrome, it is important to know that this epidemic does not have to last a lifetime. There is mental freedom available for the oppressed. We will go into this further in next week’s blog. Join us then.
Photo: The Awareness Center