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Survivors of Terror: Battered Women, Hostages, and the Stockholm Syndrome (From Feminist Perspectives on Wife Abuse, P 217-233, 1988, Kersti Yllo and Michelle Bograd, eds. -- See NCJ 119043)

NCJ Number
D L R Graham; E Rawlings; N Rimini
Date Published
17 pages
This chapter discusses the psychological reactions of battered women to being trapped in a situation that is very similar to that of hostages.
Traditional psychological theories have suggested that battered women love and remain with the men who batter them because of female masochism. It is suggested that their experiences can be better understood through the model of the Stockholm Syndrome, which has been developed to account for the paradoxical psychological responses of hostages to their captors. Similarities between hostages and battered women are grouped under six categories: victimizers' sex, victimizers' domination strategies, victims as symbolic targets, victims' active strategies for survival, counterproductive victim responses, and victims' survival as success. Comparisons reveal greater empathy and societal support for hostages who, in contrast to battered women, seem to suffer less actual physical abuse and whose ordeals are more likely to be short term. From a feminist perspective, identifying the development of Stockholm Syndrome in battered women calls attention to their hostage status, a contextual condition that has been ignored in a sexist system that blames women for their own victimization. 37 references.