1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Abusive relationships - experience?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Mckk, Mar 25, 2016.

    So, I dug up an old WIP and found myself wishing to read on after the 11k words that I'd written, so I decided to revive it. However, one of the MCs was kidnapped and held hostage for roughly 13 years (currently I'm considering shortening it to 5, since there's no reason why it has to be 13). He is the heir to the throne and the kidnapper had basically hoped to take my MC, condition him into a slave puppet, and then release him to take the throne again, and for the kidnapper himself to act as the MC's personal royal adviser and essentially rule the kingdom in the background. (like the evil Queen Mothers) He does return home and take the throne halfway through the book.

    So, I'm already reading up on Stockholm Syndrome and I'm planning on reading Elizabeth Smart's and Natascha Kampusch's ordeals (both kidnap victims who were later rescued and both have written books about their experience)

    But that's gonna take me some time to read through, so I just wondered if anyone on here might have - and be willing to share - their experiences of any abusive relationships they've been involved in, and what were their thoughts and feelings during the relationship, when they were physically with the abuser and when they were physically away from the abuser, if there's a difference.

    What techniques did the abuser use to keep you in it? What reasons kept you in it? What caused you to break away in the end and how did you do it?

    I'd just like to have a better understanding of what goes on in the victim's mind while they are trapped in the abusive relationship.

    I'm also struggling a little to come up with why my MC would think he'd be unable to fight or survive without his captor when he owns an entire kingdom and within the course of the story would actually serve as king. I mean, you're the king, pretty much the epitome of power - is it realistic for him to be still trapped in his mindset of being powerless against his abuser once he's been crowned king?
     
  2. A.S.Ford
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    A.S.Ford Active Member

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    Those are quite some personal questions you are asking so don't be too surprised if you don't have many people respond to this. It can be hard to talk about for a lot of people. I have finally started to feel truly better and no longer affected by the abuse I had to endure so am able to speak freely (if a little bluntly) about the effect it had on me, but others may not yet feel as though they can discuss their own abuse.

    I can only go from my own past experiences (thankfully I am in a loving and kind relationship now) but the abuser tends to condition the victim into thinking that whatever happens (in a negative sense) is their own fault; that the victim needs the abuser to survive and to be happy; that the abuser can do no wrong and is the only one who loves or cares for the victim. It is hard to explain fully and the process can take a long time - sometimes weeks, sometimes months, and sometimes even years - and it is also a hard process to undo as the victim can become quite emotionally dependent on the abuser. Studies show that on average it takes a victim 3x as long as the abuse occurred for them to 'get over' (for lack of a better phrase) the abuse they suffered (e.g. if a person was abused for 4 years then it would take them 12 years to become fully mentally and emotionally well again) - this is obviously dependent on the individual and the particular abusive situation they were in.

    So, to answer your questions:

    1. Techniques - manipulation, grooming (which is usually in the form of giving the victim treats/spoiling them and being nice to them so that they associate the abuser with these nice things and can trick them into thinking the abuser doesn't want to cause them any harm), complimentary behaviour, etc.

    2. Reasons for staying - can range from fear (either fear of the person or fear of what they might do if you left or even fear of leaving the abuser if the abuser has made the victim feel mentally or emotionally dependent on them) all the way to a twisted sense of loyalty since an abuser will usually make the victim feel as though the abuser is nice and loving and caring etc.

    3. How and why to breaking away - Most people can only see the abuser for what they really are when either someone on the outside makes them see it (usually just telling the victim isn't enough, they have to prove it) or sometimes an abuser will slip up and reveal the truth themselves in their actions or reactions (e.g. if they blew up in a rage over something little and showed the victim just how horrible they can be or if they prove through their actions that they can't change their abusive ways) but sometimes it can take a lot of evidence and a lot of time for a victim to see the truth, sometimes even years. As for the how, again it can be a lengthy process but most people try to isolate themselves from the abuser and find some form of protection from the abuser (e.g. family members, friends, the police, etc.) and safety systems/precautions/drills are put into place depending on the severity of abuse.

    4. Yes, depending on the level of abuse and how much the victim comes to depend on the abuser emotionally/mentally it is entirely realistic to have him still 'controlled' until he can realise the truth about his abuser.

    I hope this helps in your research!
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
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  3. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    You really need to differentiate between 'abusive relationships' and 'kidnapped and brainwashed'. These things different in a bunch of different ways. There certainly are relationships where one partner feels like a captive and cannot leave but the majority of abusive relationships are rather more mundane. Two aggressive people end up in a relationship together and take turns abusing each other. Neither partner leaves because neither is especially aggrieved. Erin Pizzey (who opened some of the first ever battered women's shelters) has repeatedly talked about 'consensual' domestic violence; where one partner will scream and yell and following the other around the house throwing things until the other partner hits them, essentially refusing to conclude the argument until it's done violently. Suffice to say that the kind of person who might, after hours of constant abuse, hit their partner, is not the same kind of person who would abuse any stranger who took their fancy. Even less would they kidnap and brainwash someone just because. These behaviors are not causally linked.

    My point here is that you're looking for a completely different dynamic. We're not talking about a romance that went off the tracks. We're talking about a sexual sadist; someone on the same level as a serial killer. They take pleasure in holding and abusing their victims, something that is very unique to that dynamic. These guys don't need to lose their temper or be drunk or perceive some slight and they will never feel regret for what they did. There are some people who convince themselves they are in love with their victim but this is totally misguided on their part. They don't love them, they just have a more specific delusion they want to fulfill which centers around symbols of traditionally happy relationships; they essentially form a cargo cult of romance hoping that if they pretend hard enough then real romance will appear.

    I'll have to argue against the above poster on a few specific points too, mostly because I think you're thinking about entirely the wrong kind of person here.

    The majority of abusive relationships are not intentionally abusive and don't begin with deliberate manipulation. Both partners are just looking for normal, healthy romance. That's absolutely not what a kidnapper is looking for. They either focus on a specific type or specific person or they will be happy to take whoever seems easily taken. This guy's mindset is that of a predator. He isn't worried about emotionally overcoming your resistance because he's confident he can do so physically. And this makes sense. If he was in the market to enjoy seducing someone then he wouldn't be a sexual sadist.

    As I said above; most abusive relationships are bilateral affairs, at least to some degree. People stay because they were genuinely responsible (to some degree) and thus don't blame their partner. It's not unheard of for people to come to believe that they couldn't find anyone else or that they are now to messed up to deserve another kind of love but that's not something that just appears from no-where. For actual victims of Stockholm Syndrome (it has it's own name for a reason by the way; you cannot look at it through the lens of an abusive relationship) they stay because they genuinely feel sympathy. Again, it's a whole other thing.

    I really don't like using words like 'usually' when you're talking about a fringe case of domestic violence. Yes, partners sometimes can come to not truly perceive the abuse they suffer. It's normal to them and they learn to avoid the worst. But that is far from typical. Everything we know about IPV says that cases where one partner is totally unabusive are the minority and of those cases the ones where a partner can be forced into cognitive dissonance are the minority again. What you are describing here is literally brainwashing. This is not usual to anything and there is no set pattern to how it works and what it does.

    Again; active brainwashing is super hard to make generalities about. In many cases it simply cannot work. Cults work essentially by casting a wide enough net to find people already predisposed to being credible and group thinking. It's almost impossible to pick up a random person and brainwash them. You might be able to cow them into obedience and condition them to do what you want simply by hurting them enough but for the majority of people you will permanently maim them before they will actually believe that you beating them is for their own good.

    Imagine this; you and I are sitting in a room together for the next five years. If I hit you enough you might eventually play along with whatever I want simply because you don't want to be hit anymore. You might pretend to be my girlfriend or wife and act happy when you see me. But that's not the same as actually changing your mind. No matter what I can't ever risk letting you outside because unless you've genuinely repressed everything you were before you will remember me hitting you. You might even act super nice to try and convince me that you have changed your mind when you haven't. Brainwashing is very very hard to pull off and it's semi-consensual. It takes a certain kind of person with a certain kind of personality another certain kind of person who they can manipulate. And of course, if you can brainwash someone; say they were at their lowest ebb when you found them and badly in need of a better life; why the hell are you tying them up? If I find some strung out addict who's just about ready to find a higher power and instead offer them a home and a good life and someone who cares about them I won't need to hit them. I will be their greater power.
     
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  4. A.S.Ford
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    A.S.Ford Active Member

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    Just wanted to counter-argument I few things here. Yes, the original post was talking about Stockholm Syndome at first but they then asked questions/ for experiences of abusive relationships and as I said, I gave my own experiences and that's all I can go on. I think perhaps if you realise that I was actually talking about a sexually, emotionally, and mentally abusive relationship rather than a domestic violence one then perhaps you might see that I had a different experience to the one you seem to think I am discussing. Sexually abusive relationship are usually abusive from the start as they usually begin with grooming techniques. Another point is that I use the word 'usually' because there are statistics on this kind of abuse that coincides with my experience but I am aware that experience is different for everyone. You are right, one of the things I am discussing is brainwashing because it is something that happens in sexually abusive relationships and also, to some extent, in Stockholm Syndrome instances ,and even cases of other types of abuse. I was abused for 4 years and it has taken a long time for me to accept what happened, to learn that it was not my fault, and that I am going to be okay so it took a lot for me to discuss my experience and opinions on the matter today, I hope you will respect that now that I have explained myself a little further.
     
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  5. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    Just going to throw this out here. Both of the previous posters raise valid points. Some times the abuser isn't aware that his or her actions are abusive. Mental and emotional abuse in particular are hard to identify and quantify. What is emotionally debilitating to one person, might be taken as just mildly harsh treatment to another.
    Now if you want to talk about brainwashing, which from your discription, is more like what it sounds like you have going on, then maybe look into some of the forms of torture used over the years. Not exactly sure where you could come up with that info. I recently stumbled over the alledged illuminati brainwashing program known as MK Ultra, in a bit of conspiracy research. (yeah, I research the illuminati for shits and giggles) Give it a good old google. That's some brainwashing there.
     
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  6. atinypotato
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    atinypotato Member

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    Well I don't know anything about being kidnapped, but here's something:
    Having good memories with their abuser as well as bad can make it just as hard for a victim to get away as anything else.
    Feeling like they cant really be a bad person because you have this good experience with them, or they didn't really mean to hurt you, because they've done things for you before.
    Feeling indebted to your abuser can cause a lot of guilt, and for some people that can make it really hard to get away.
    If that helps at all.
     
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