Attraction to the rapist.

 Attraction to the rapist. As Huxley correctly noted, “to make people love the slave position is the main task (of a totalitarian state).” And the inexperienced viewer is genuinely surprised by how slaves lick the shoes of their masters, how an intelligent and self-sufficient woman tolerates a narrow-minded abuser, and how the children and grandchildren of the murdered glorify the murderers of their parents.

This phenomenon includes many manifestations — Stockholm syndrome (hostages fell in love with criminals in a few hours, resisted the police, refused to testify, and one of the hostages subsequently married the criminal), Lima syndrome — victims and hostages begin to share the demands and rightness of the criminals’ claims or traumatic attachment (trauma bonding). It is important that the syndrome persists after the release and separation of the victim and the rapist.

What does it look like? The feeling that the victim owes a lot to the aggressor, and feels grateful to him, despite the harm done, justifies any destructive and criminal actions of the aggressor towards himself and others (if he hits me, it’s necessary, I’m to blame), excessive identification with the aggressor (we are together), protection of the aggressor before those who he wants to help the victim, the desire to please the rapist or abuser, the desire to attract his attention and earn his love, denial of his problems and self-inflicted damage from the aggressor.

In higher primates living in packs, an individual cannot leave the herd during aggression, as this is tantamount to death. Therefore, in the process of evolution, primates have developed special adaptive mechanisms to “get used to and love.” So primates have a mechanism of “reverse escape”, when victims of aggression often turn to their abuser for comfort, and not to another member group this is part of the mechanism of “humility”, demonstrating one’s submission (including sexual), one’s weakness, self-destructive behavior, an expression of a warm attitude towards the aggressor, an expression of shame and fear to appease him and minimize the threat. But the most “reliable” way to reduce the risk is to “fall in love” with a rapist.

Oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine play an important role. Oxytocin levels are also released during social stress as a compensatory anti-stress reaction. The problem is that his increase can create an emotional bond with someone who ito him — with the rapist. Now “ours” is a rapist with victims, and “strangers” are everyone who wants to interfere with us. With The situation is more complicated with serotonin in low-ranking individuals, serotonin increases after a lesion, and dopamine drops. This allows him to get used to it, to accept it, to obey with pleasure, and gives an inner feeling that everything is “right” and “fair” . The main thing for such people is to maintain order and punish those who “stick out”, their sensitivity to pain decreases and their emotional response to their own de decreases.

Often victims leave violent relationships, but continue to suffer from an irrational craving for the rapist, which encourages them to return. Psychological violence in a relationship causes an addictive effect through the dopamine mechanism. Intermittent violence plays an important role — when acts of violence are occasionally accidentally replaced by “kindness” and the rapist convinces of his positive intentions. A random unpredictable reward has an addictive mechanism — just as a random win gets a gambler hooked on the game, burning through his life, so the victim of a rapist becomes attached to him and protects him, despite the damage done to her. A similar cycle exists in abusive relationships — increasing tension, beating, and “honeymoon”.

Scientists identify four conditions for the formation of traumatic attachment: a direct threat from the hands of the rapist; perceived small kindness on the part of the rapist towards the victim; isolation from points of view other than the point of view of the rapist; and the inevitability and irreversibility of the situation. The victim focuses on the needs of the aggressor and begins to look at the world from his position.

What other mechanisms play a role? The arousal attribution error and cognitive dissonance are also the significant process of arousal itself and are rather nonspecific, and we can often misinterpret them (misattribution of arousal). Studies have shown that when we are scared of something, we can misinterpret what we feel (increased breathing and heartbeat), take it for the fact that we liked. Yes, we confuse fear and attraction — they both take place in the same subcortical part of the brain.

Cognitive dissonance is what a person experiences and, instead of accepting the situation, comes up with a “meaning” in violence against himself — that this is for a higher purpose, that this is just a “difficult relationship”. Such a mechanism of self-deception deprives a person of the opportunity to realize what is happening. As a rule, this is facilitated by sophisticated gaslighting as a mechanism of psychological violence. Masochism, with sadism, may also play a big role. Masochism is getting aroused from the suffering caused, the desire to be enslaved, and the pleasure of being treated like a slave.

Thus, violence can activate the mechanisms of “reverse flight” and instead of healthy disgust and escape from the threat, you can feel the attraction to evil and even rationalize this attraction. It is tough to get out of such a relationship because it is difficult for the victim to realize and even more so to control such destructive relationships. Especially if this type of attachment has developed in childhood.

Healing begins only with the awareness and understanding of the problem and the first thing to do is to recognize the problem and stop deceiving yourself, listen to alternative points of view without gnashing your teeth, and face the facts. There are many more stages of healing ahead, including abuser withdrawal syndrome, but a good psychotherapist will help you overcome them.

Kidnapping and hostage-taking: a review of effects, coping and resilience J R Soc Med. 2009 Jan 1; 102(1): 16–21.

Traumatic entrapment, appeasement and complex post-traumatic stress disorder: evolutionary perspectives of hostage reactions, domestic abuse and the Stockholm syndrome Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2007 May;41(5):377–84.

Intimate Partner Violence and the Meaning of Love Pages 395–401 | Published online: 28 Jun 2013

Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 510–517