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Child Abuse Victim as a Hostage: Scorpion's Story

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 10 Issue: 6 Dated: November-December 2001 Pages: 428-439
Neerosh Mundaly; Chris Goddard
Date Published
12 pages
This case study of an adolescent boy who experienced extreme abuse by his mother's partner draws parallels between this boy's experiences as an abuse victim and the experiences of those in a hostage situation.
The subject ("Martin") was severely abused by his mother's partner from 4 years until he was 7 years old. He also witnessed his mother being beaten by her partner. Psychiatric reports on Martin describe extensive emotional damage, extremely poor self-image, and a fluctuation between victim and aggressor roles. At times he is suicidal and very angry and acts out violently. Certain definitions demonstrate the link between hostage-taking and child abuse, with violence, physical force, and the use of fear being common factors. The violence or the threat of violence is deliberately used to evoke a state of fear in the victim, through which compliance is maintained. Similarly, child abuse includes violent acts and passive abuse, which although not considered violent, can cause physical and emotional injury. Martin has developed a new identity in order to cope with the effects of his abuse. He is "Scorpion," a character from "Mortal Kombat" (a violent movie and video game). He describes himself as more powerful than what he is, capable of overcoming all who threaten him. For "Scorpion," the soul of Martin is dead. From this boy's descriptions of his experience of abuse and what he did to survive, there appears to be a clear correlation between serious child abuse and hostage experiences. The descriptions of the abuser's power, violence, and abusive acts closely resemble the tactics of terrorists. The parallels with the experiences of hostages are an issue that child abuse theorists and therapists should consider in order to more clearly understand the reactions of child abuse victims. 36 references


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