Why didn’t she escape?


Mental Health in the news:

A girl, aged 15, was reported missing in August 2004 by her mother. The mother suspected her live-in boyfriend of abducting her daughter. The mother also suspected that her boyfriend had been sexually abusing the teen for about two months.
The victim tried to escape twice but the man caught her and allegedly beat her, according to law enforcement.
“He told her then, ‘You can’t go home, you’re here illegally, you don’t speak the language, your mom’s called the police, they will send you back,'”.
To evade police detection, he obtained false identification for the victim and subsequently moved several times, police said.
He arranged for both of them to work at a night cleaning service together so he could watch her, police said.

If the horrific allegations in the above story are true, this type of person is extremely manipulative and violent. The young, naive girl may have gone into “survival mode” and complied whatever instructions were given to her, no matter how outlandish, to avoid harm.

Survival mode is different for different types of people:
1. one is Fight. We do not know if this young lady ever tried to fight
2. another is Flight… to try and run away, which this young lady did on at least two occasions with unpleasant consequences.
3. and lastly there is Freeze, which is where a victim shuts down and does nothing.

An example of freeze could be what is commonly known as, “Learned Helplessness”. For example, when a dog being captured, and kept, in a glass crate, it will lose its will to escape even after the door is opened. Experiments on mice show that if a floor is electrified it will try to escape the shocks, but if you turn off the electricity to half of floor the mice will no longer to avoid shocks because they “learned” trying to run did not help them.

This young lady did try to escape from her hellish glass box and both times was caught and then mentally and physically abused and beaten down which appears to have resulted in learned helplessness. She went from Flight to Freeze.

These psychotic men tear down their victims sense of self until there is nothing left. They are masters of hiding their true selves. He was the only one giving her information and may have told her that her family would get locked up for being undocumented. Or that she would be deported. There are so many things someone can say to make someone else feel alone and scared. As someone who has volunteered as a rape crisis counselor, I know that many undocumented people do not realize that they can report this type of abuse without fear of being arrested or deported. This is information that those of us in the healthcare field need to be better about letting others know.

So, to recap, not only was she 15 when this traumatic event occurred, she was in a new country, she was probably told many lies by her captor, and she was ignorant about her rights. She probably did not know that the law would have been on her side.

The mind and psyche are delicate in these types of situations. It can rewrite the experience in order for a person to function and survive, (otherwise known as Stockholm Syndrome). Well into her captivity, after the young lady became pregnant, her motherly instincts may have kicked in to protect her child, despite the fact it was fathered by an alleged psychopath.

In the words of Elizabeth Smart, former long-term kidnap victim herself:

“It’s so easy for us to be curious and think, ‘Why didn’t you escape? Why didn’t you run away?’ But it’s really important that we don’t ask that question because all the survivor hears is, ‘You should have done something,’ and, ‘It’s your fault you were gone so long.'” And that’s what they do not need to be hearing right now.”

Be vigilant with your children, 80% of rape cases are carried out by friends or family members. So, please, always be vigilant. Because this young lady will need a lot of love (and therapy) to heal.



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