Friday, October 23, 2015

Love, Abuse, and Stockholm Syndrome

Is love important?
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:7-21. ESV.)

I was reading an article, yesterday, about a girl who had been kidnapped as a preteen, was held captive, sexually abused, etc. for numerous years and at one point seemingly loved her abusers. But, how could that be? Is it too difficult to understand? I think not. Secularly, the term “Stockholm syndrome” is used. There are many articles on the subject if one searches it on Google Scholar. As Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist describes it,
On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees “The party has just begun!” The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th .

After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had “bonded” emotionally with their captors.
(Carver, Joseph M. Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist. “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser”. Christian Social Network. 2007. http://www.christiansocialnetwork.net/uploads/2/3/8/0/2380803/love_and_stockholm_syndrome_-_the_mystery_of_loving_an_abuser.pdf
But why? Carver goes on to explain,
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The “Stockholm Syndrome” reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages.
It is for survival. The article goes on to say more but my question in this post is about “love”.

Is love important? Yes. God’s word says so. Further, in an effort to survive a horrible situation, those who are abused, threatened, held hostage, coerced, violated, neglected, oppressed, controlled, manipulated, etc. see their captor/abuser as loving them just to survive. Therefore, I feel love is very essential.

But does the offender actually love those he/she hurts? God’s word says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” And, what about the one who says with his/her lips, ‘I love you,’ but whose actions show differently? Is God there? The girl I mentioned above, who was kidnapped, reported her captors/abusers as crying and apologizing on various occasions yet they continued harming her. Were these tearful amends just empty words? Love cannot be feigned. The truth always comes out.
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.(1 John 2:9-11. ESV.)
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