The result of this step is a ”trauma bond” between victim and pimp or trafficker that can be equated to Stockholm Syndrome. “Pimps crush. Second, we highlight that relationships of sex-trafficking victims often involve complex .. status) or fear and coercion (e.g., threatened violence from a partner or pimp). . of hostage reactions, domestic abuse and the Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome in the Pimp-Victim Relationship: If you want to understand why girls who are sex-trafficked don't run straight to the police, Withelma Ortiz.
These peer relationships mirror those of trafficker to victim and are marked by competition, abuse, and exploitation, on the one hand, but also often constitute the only social support group women have.
This can lead to personal criminal charges reflecting violence and abuse JohnTV, The result of this tangled net of power imbalance—powerful trafficker and fluctuating power among trafficked victims—has not been seriously considered within the trauma framework.
First, the presence of an unreliable yet desperately needed social group undermines further the possibility of stable human attachment. Thus, the traumatic-coerced attachment may grow more powerfully because all other relationships are marked by mistrust and betrayal. Two, when asked to exploit, abuse, and punish other women, trafficked victims are being asked to violate their own moral stance to an extreme Herman, a. This betrayal of values is considered key to trauma-coerced bonds.
That is, these victims are not only experiencing personal abuse, but also inflicting abuse in the sacrifice of others.
Pimp-Prostitute Relationship | Anna Engel
The phenomenon of trauma-coerced attachment needs to be explored and understood specifically within this context of complex hierarchical and vertical relationships, rather than a single dominant relationship. The hybrid relationships i. Again, adopting the coercive control framework to understand these hybrid relationships within the sex-trafficking context can provide a means of systematic and deliberate empirical study.
Role of Sex A third area of inquiry is sex. Ironically, the psychological role of having sex with paying clients has been neglected in the study of trafficking other than determining what is considered coerced and if there is violence involved. However, the role of sex in commercial sex is much more complex. First, those entering commercial sex often have extensive histories of sexual abuse and trauma Matthews, ; Monto, They frequently enter into their coerced working and intimate relationships with a poor knowledge of healthy sexuality Matthews, Often they begin commercial sex from places of desperation e.
Women with sexual abuse histories can and do use sex to feel powerful Marcus et al. The very fact that men are willing to pay for their bodies creates a momentary empowerment. However, such empowerment can result in dangerous overreliance on the body and obscuring the original need to compulsively fend off feelings of shame and degradation.
These include the routine use of dissociation to tolerate sex with paying clients, drugs to induce the dissociation or to reintegrate the mind and body, and a cycle of shame and self-hatred punctuated by empowerment Herman, a. All of these outcomes likely enforce, maintain, and or strengthen trauma-coerced bonds, or contribute to such distress that the bonds cannot be severed.
As such, the role of sex—separate from a moral stance associated with selling sex—should be explored in more depth. In furthering understanding trauma-enforced attachment, researchers should return to understanding that the study of sex in trafficking contexts has been done with an implicit mind-body divide. Did she say yes?
In that case, the body cannot be hurt. Was she hit or raped? In that case, the mind was not injured.
These are false dichotomies. This Cartesian rupture between mind and body hinders our understanding of the human experience, particularly within the complex context of sex trafficking. We recommend that instead of these concrete benchmarks that obscure the interconnection between body experience and emotional functioning, researchers should begin with the assumption that the body is not separate from the mind.
Further, the body is evolutionarily designed to be an instrument of mutual reciprocated communication and desire, to provide intimacy whether briefly in passionate temporary encounters, or more continuously as is the case of more committed relationships. If we agree with this evolutionary premise, how do we as living organisms tolerate repeated, regular, unreciprocated, imbalanced sexual contact divorced from the experience of people, place, and activity?
Would such an imbalance create traumatic outcomes related to violation of autonomy? How are these outcomes mitigated by consent or non consent? Are some women able to protect themselves from dissociation because they do not feel violated? Are these women in the majority or minority? How is consent mitigated by histories of abuse and the resulting power imbalance?
Exploring each of these questions will aid us in understanding not only a more diverse range of traumatic outcomes, but how these traumatic disorders can affect those involved in the sex-trafficking context specifically. Thus, the complex, yet crucial role of sex both out of and within the relationship warrants further inquiry.
Trauma-coerced Bonding and Victims of Sex Trafficking: Where do we go from here?
As researchers begin to examine trauma-induced attachment within the sex-trafficking context, the role of sex should be explored systematically as well. However, the reality for victims of sex trafficking is much more complex. They are subject to extensive physical and emotional abuse and a host of sexual, physical, and emotional issues.
In turn, many of them utilize unhealthy coping mechanisms e. They also face a host of traumatic outcomes, including: By repeated exploitation of her subordinate position in concert with his other abusive behaviorsthe abuser makes himself the most powerful person in her life—both physically and emotionally.
Over time, her psychology reflects this power differential leaving her uncertain, lost, fearful, and entrapped Herman, a. Future Directions In conclusion, we suggest reframing the conceptualization of trauma bonding to one that reflects a trauma-coerced attachment or bond.
Adopting the framework of coercive control can be helpful in fostering our understanding of the pathways to the complex outcome of these traumatic experiences and lends its inquiry to systematic study.
We also proposed that the hybrid and complex relationships of victims of sex trafficking warrant individual attention due to the additional burdens they place on these victims. Finally, we suggested that the role of sex within relationships and the working context be examined using an embodied united mind-body framework, rather than a Cartesian split as is currently favored. Researchers and clinicians are beginning to make strides toward this dynamic understanding of traumatic outcomes.
Specifically, symptomology of self-blame, pervasive negative mood, and shame are offered in the new PTSD criteria and a rich range of traumatic outcomes e.
However, clinical considerations of traumatic experiences still fail to specify the full range of traumatic outcomes e. In order to fully understand the range of possible outcomes to chronic and repeated abuse or trauma, the current gaps in the literature need systematic and empirical exploration.
Systematic inquiry into trauma-coerced attachment is not an easy undertaking, despite the prevalence of domestic and international victims. Many of the outcomes for victims are abstract and difficult to conceptualize and measure e. Further, this population is difficult to access when they are currently in the lifestyle and are usually interviewed several years after exiting.
Empirical inquiry post-relationship may yield to missing pieces of information or details about traumatic experiences and outcomes. Therefore, researchers must explore these outcomes and develop systematic and cohesive forms of measurement in order to offer a comprehensive understanding of their role within trauma-induced attachment and their presentation in victims who experience them. Future directions for research in this area should aim to reintroduce and clarify the concept of trauma-coerced attachment within the trauma literature.
Further aims should include comparing the presentation of these attachments in victims of sex trafficking to other forms of victimization e. More specifically, little is known about the process of forming the attachment or bond—is the process rigid or does it fluctuate? Further, why do some women bond and others do not?
What level of awareness do the victims have over their cognitive shift? How does the dual role of intimate partners and coerced working relationships and the nature of sex work, which involves the body, affect the presentation of the trauma-coerced attachment and the experiences had by the sex-trafficking victim? Lastly, prevention and intervention strategies should be explored so that researchers, clinicians, and the criminal justice system are better equipped to successfully meet the needs of these victims.
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9, A syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5, AAWW operates in several states in Northern India with a variety of communities in brothel, street, and home-based sex work.
The interviews were conducted by staff members of Apne Aap as part of a monthly newsletter known as the Red Light Dispatch. Apne Aap received informed consent from all women as part of their organizational protocol to publish these interviews in their monthly newsletter, which is distributed widely to donors, volunteers, and other supporters of the organization. We used NVivo coding software and a grounded theory approach to highlight themes related to mental health and trauma.
Does the Stockholm Syndrome affect female sex workers? The case for a “Sonagachi Syndrome”
The full methods and analysis of these interviews are reported in a separate research paper [ 8 ]. Once I was kidnapped, stabbed, and raped just because I refused to open my door for prostitution at midnight. This violence comes from both clients, as well as those who work in the brothel. For many, this hope of love and kindness remains a factor as they continue interacting with the trafficker even while working in the brothel.
They were not allowed to talk to each other and were socially brain washed. This tactic is used to prevent girls from escaping or seeking help. It contributes to the demoralization of the victim. But they would be found and treated even worse than before. I saw the fate of rebels in brothels and their hardships killed my courage to run away.
They also witnessed examples of others who tried and failed, which further made the idea of escaping an unlikely if not impossible option. Open in a separate window The first precondition of Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a perceived threat to survival and the belief that a captor would carry such threat to completion. For many women who are trafficked, physical violence and torture are central aspects of their experience.
Does the Stockholm Syndrome affect female sex workers? The case for a “Sonagachi Syndrome”
In many narratives, women discussed that death was a plausible result of starvation, physical violence, and sexual violence. The second precondition is the showing of love or kindness to the victim by the captor.
This is particularly notable in that many women who are trafficked continue to have a relationship with their trafficker, or others develop relationships with clients. However, within the context of Stockholm Syndrome, this criterion essentially refers to any action which might help the woman to survive. Thus, the nature of the pimp-prostitute relationship is in some ways inherently designed to allow for kindness or demonstrations of positive interactions.
Moreover, abuses from pimps and brothel madams are lessened as the woman accepts her position in the brothel and it is likely that her treatment improves over time. A third precondition is that victims are isolated from the outside world. Many women described that their first several months in the brothel were completely isolated aside from seeing a brothel madam or trafficker.
The final precondition for Stockholm Syndrome is the perceived inability to escape. For many trafficked women, entry into sex work was through false promises of marriage or of a well-paying job in a different city.