Tue | Dec 18, 2018

'Human trafficking victims may sympathise with captors'

Published:Thursday | July 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Andre Davis, an associate counselling psychologist at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston, has suggested that the resocialisation of victims of human trafficking is sometimes made difficult because of the bond they develop with their captors.

Davis made the observation while addressing yesterday's first of the two-day National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons' (NATFATIP) Human Trafficking International Conference at the Melia Braco Resort, in Trelawny.

According to Davis, some human trafficking victims suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, a condition that causes hostages to develop psychological bonds with their captors as a survival strategy, and, consequently, they may sabotage attempts to prosecute offenders.

"Stockholm Syndrome has implications for the justice system because persons that develop an emotional attachment to their captor will even begin to resist persons who are in the justice system," noted Davis.

"They (victims) will literally have positive feelings for their captors, and they might actually move against police officers and find a way to trick them, taking the side of the person who captured them," added Davis.

He further argued that hostages at times become confused by the motives of their captors and believe that their captors are on their side.

"A lot of this emerges because of the hostage's belief in the humanity of their captor. Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser is a contributing factor to Stockholm Syndrome escalating," said Davis.

Davis said that the sympathetic response to their captors by the victims of human trafficking was somewhat similar to domestic abuse victims who choose to stay with their partners.

"This explains, in a sense, why victims of domestic violence will voluntarily stay with their abusers despite having the freedom to leave, as well as sex workers, who are regularly punished by their pimps," the psychologist said.

The conference, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, features dignitaries from several countries. Their mandate is to discuss a number of topics on human trafficking with a view to coming up with workable solutions to address the problem.