This chapter proposes that the psychological reactions of battered women are explained best as a result of their experiences of being trapped in a situation that is very similar to that of hostages.
The conditions for the development of the Stockholm Syndrome, that is, the model developed to account for the paradoxical psychological responses of hostages to their captors, are detailed to facilitate careful consideration of the relevance of the literature on hostages for understanding the experiences and psychological reactions of battered women. Both hostages and battered women are likely to develop a positive psychological bond with their captors or abusers along with an antipathy toward outsiders working to win their release. Greater empathy and societal support exists for hostages who, in contrast to battered women, appear to suffer less actual physical abuse and whose ordeals are more likely to be short-term. Importantly, awareness of the Stockholm Syndrome may help therapists to be more understanding of why it is difficult for the woman to leave the batterer and why she often returns and also may help a battered woman to avoid blaming herself and to change her behavior once she no longer is in the violent situation. 37 references
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