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Friday, July 5, 2013

Dear Jeannie: Stockholm Syndrome and Sexually Active Abused Women

Dear Jeannie,

My protag is part of a group of allies. he has supernatural powers, but is struggling to control them. The rest of his group doesn't notice this. When he nearly kills himself by his own power, he is offered help by a team of drug dealers with similar issues, who use the drugs to keep powers under control. The drug dealers offer him aid and sympathy, and foster feelings of anger and betrayal toward his old group. The two factions confront each other, and his old teammates learn the truth, and forcefully drag my protag back, in part to finally help him.

What might his emotional state and feelings be after being "taken away" from his new allies and back to his old friends who originally "abandoned him"?

Unknown in the UK

Dear Unknown,

The main question you have to ask is whether your protag, at any time, views the drug dealers as enemies. If he did, and reluctantly accepted their help because he was at the end of his rope, then what you're describing here could very well fit into Stockholm Syndrome. (This is when the victim overly identifies with and relates to the abuser/captor/etc and doesn't see them in a negative light.) If your protag looks at them from the beginning as allies as well, then this would not be the case.

Since you have your protag on the drug dealer side, confronting his old allies, I'm leaning toward Stockholm Syndrome. If he respects them, how they manage their powers--even if it is through using drugs--then even though they are the enemy camp, so to speak, he'd still fight on their side. Once captured by his old friends, he'd want to return to the drug dealers. (Even more so if addicted to the substances they plied him with.) It would likely take a major event of some kind, where the new friends can prove to the protag definitively that the drug dealers were "bad," before he'd willingly succumb to their ministrations.

Dear Jeannie,

One of my main characters is constantly degraded by women and men (especially men who treat her as an object for them to control). In her childhood, her foster father tried to take advantage of her sexually. I read somewhere that even after being taken advantage of in such ways, girls still remain sexually active. Can you explain the progression from being sexually abused to sexually active?

Always Anonymous

Dear Always Anonymous,

I wouldn't call it a progression so much as a process. When young girls are abused, it is often by someone they know and love, even respect. Probably one of the most heartbreaking stories I heard from a client was from one who had been abused by her father for years. She said she loved her father for abusing her, because when he was having sex with her was the only time he was nice to her. (Jaw dropping, right?)

Young girls learn that it is during the sexual act that they are often treated well, noticed, cared for. They come to associate sex and sexual acting out (dressing to receive lecherous looks, being forward and flirty, etc) with love and affection. They can't divorce the two. So they grow up to be extremely sexually active and promiscuous, because by so being, they meet their Need for Affection (you can grab my free Writer's Guide when you sign up for my newsletter, which talks more about the three basic needs of people).

Got Questions?

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I'll get to them in future Dear Jeannie columns.