Kidnapping is possibly one of the worst crimes that people can commit. It completely robs a person of their sense of control, and shatters their lives long after they are successfully released. Sometimes, these captives are kept for years and even decades, while others are kept for only a few days. But regardless of the amount of time involved, these people are exposed to an incredible amount of psychological stress. Sometimes, this can cause them to do or feel strange things. The most famous of these effects is Stockholm Syndrome. This psychological phenomena causes the captor to feel empathy and understanding towards their captors, and this can manifest in many forms.
Kidnapping victims falling in love with their captors is one of the most shocking and bizarre things that can happen to people who get abducted. But this phenomenon is surprisingly more common than you might think. There are actually many examples of this happening throughout history, and more and more instances occur every day. Sometimes this is even a cultural thing that happens regularly and is sanctioned by the society of the country. Sometimes people who are kidnapped are kept for so long that they start to feel like they're part of the family. But in any case, these instances are surprising and an intriguing insight into the psychology of kidnapping victims.
15 How Stockholm Syndrome Got Its Name
For those who don't know, the phenomenon of captives falling in love with their kidnappers has a real psychological name. This is known as "Stockholm Syndrome." It has been studied extensively, and it wasn't just "invented" by some Swedish psychologist. It actually gets its name from a real bank robbery that occurred in Stockholm, Sweden back in 1973. Jan-Erik Olsson walked into the bank and held the place up by himself, taking several people hostage and locking them in the bank vault. This included two cops.
The strangest thing about this was the fact that the hostages seemed to trust the bank robbers more than they did the police. They thought the hostage-takers were "nice people" and they didn't believe for a second that they would kill any of them. In fact, they communicated in a phone call to the prime minister at the time that they were scared about the ineptitude of the police and the possibility that this might get them killed.
14 Patty Hearst - Consensual Sex With Captors
Another captive scenario involved Patty Hearst, and many people mistakenly believe that the name "Stockholm Syndrome" comes from her situation. It happened one year after the Stockholm Bank Robbery, and it is one of the best-known cases of people falling in love with their captors. She was abducted from college when she was 19 by a radical left wing terror group. She was kept against her will, and was eventually released 19 months later. During this time, she had undergone a serious transformation.
It quickly became known that even while she was being kept against her will, she was willingly partaking in the terror groups activities. These included things like making propaganda announcements on their radio station and even taking part in bank robberies. When she was found, she was charged with bank robbery, although she was later pardoned. She later admitted to several consensual sexual relationships with various members of the terror group.
13 Yvonne Ridley - Converted To Islam By The Taliban
Another case of a kidnapping that is often associated with Stockholm Syndrome is the case of Yvonne Ridley. She may not have fallen in love with her captors per se, but she definitely fell in love with what they stood for. This British journalist wanted to sneak into Afghanistan, but she failed to get the necessary papers. So she chose to wear a burqa and sneak across the border, a trick that had previously been used with great success by a previous British journalist.
She was caught when someone saw her camera, and she was immediately charged with espionage, a crime that was punishable by death. Her captors were largely associated with the Taliban, a group that Yvonne Ridley opposed because of their treatment of women. In order to facilitate her release, she promised to read the Quran. When she was finally let go, she was true to her word and read the holy book, although she did this primarily to find evidence of Islam supporting the mistreatment of women. To her surprise, she failed to find any evidence, and instead claimed that Islam advocated equality for women. She later converted to Islam, and is now one of the most famous Muslim women in the entire world.
12 Natascha Kampusch - Mourned Her Captor's Death
Another case of a woman who formed a bizarre relationship with her captor was Natascha Kampusch. This Austrian girl was abducted when she was just 10 years old. A full 8 years later, she managed to escape. A nationwide hunt was undertaken for the rescue of this little girl, but all efforts failed. That was because her captor, a middle-aged man, kept her confined in a small concrete cell constructed in his garage. Photos of this chamber are pretty horrific, but it seems that she grew used to her situation.
As time went on, Kampusch was allowed to have much more freedom. She was brought upstairs for most of the day, and was even allowed to go outside in the garden pretty much unsupervised. She made very little overt efforts to escape. Her captor did questionable things like make her clean the house half naked, or bathe her himself. He also "cuddled" with her in bed, although Natascha claims there was no actual sexual interaction. Detectives claim that because Natascha's real parents were poor and unhappy, her home with her captive might well have been better than the home she was living in before. But the strangest fact of all is the fact that she publicly mourned his death when he killed himself.
11 Elizabeth Smart - Didn't Escape When She Had A Chance
One of the most horrific cases of kidnapping is the abduction of Elizabeth Smart. This girl was 14 when she was taken off the street in Salt Lake City. She was taken in a car to a remote forest location, where she and a man went on a long hike together. Eventually, they reached a camp site where they met the man's wife. The man's wife undressed her and a bizarre wedding ceremony was conducted between her and her male captor. For the next 9 months, she was raped 3 to 4 times a day and kept in a tent.
Eventually, she began to accept her situation. It has been suggested that the continuous rape might have "broken" her psychologically, and after a while she stopped crying while the rape was taking place. She has suggested herself that she might have started to think of her captor as something like a husband, in order to cope. This would explain the numerous times that she could have escaped, and did nothing. She was even taken into the city with the couple, and made no effort to scream out or try to get away when she was in crowds of people. She even kept her identity secret when she was questioned by a police officer who suspected she might be the long lost missing girl. Finally, she even says today that she empathizes with her captors and claims to understand their motives.
10 Kidnapper Treats Her Better Than Her Husband
An insane situation occurred when a Mumbai woman chose her kidnapper over her real husband. The alleged love affair had been going on for a while, and her husband became increasingly violent towards her. But according to the woman, her husband had been torturing her long before she started having an affair, and she describes her marital situation as "hellish." Her kidnapper took her and convinced her that if she tried to escape, not only would her life be in danger but also those of her family and close friends. As a result, she made no effort to escape.
But now she's claiming that her kidnapper actually treats her better than her husband used to. Even so, her captor still beats her, a fact that is clear given the cuts and abrasions on her face witnessed by social workers. But the woman refuses to file a complaint against her captor, so the police are powerless to stop it. It seems to be just a situation where her captor abuses this woman less than her husband used to, so she wants to stay with him.
9 Chloe Ayling Promised Her Abductor Her Body
The biggest kidnapping story right now is the case of Chloe Ayling, the Instagram model who was kidnapped and almost sold into sexual slavery by a terror group known as "Black Death." This group lured her to Milan under the false pretense of a paid photoshoot, only to capture her and imprison her for 9 days, all while trying to sell her on the black market to the highest bidder. It was only when the group discovered that she was a mother that they agreed to let her go. Apparently this was against the group's policies.
But some surprising details came from the inside story behind this kidnapping. According to Chloe Ayling herself, she and her kidnapper became very close during those 9 days. She confessed that they slept in the same bed, and that he watched her in the shower. He even bought her lingerie and chocolate. Ayling also admits that she continuously promised the man sex if he would release her. I guess we'll never know if she would've followed through on this promise, because she was released before this situation could play out.
8 The Tradition Of Wife Kidnapping
What if I told you that kidnapping women and forcing them to become your bride was a common practice around the world? No, this is not a scene from Borat, it's real life. Bride Kidnapping is common in Central and Southeast Asia, Africa, and among cultures like the Romani in Europe. Basically, the man abducts the woman he wishes to have as his bride. This can be a more symbolic "abduction," where it's more of an act than a real kidnapping. On the other hand, many wife kidnappings are violent and totally non consensual. Interestingly, the tradition of a honeymoon is said to be a relic of bride kidnapping.
In many situations, rape is common in bride kidnapping. This is common in cultures where there is a strong taboo against illegitimate children. By raping the woman and getting her pregnant, the family is forced to approve of the marriage, because of the shame of having a daughter with an illegitimate child. But perhaps the most bizarre thing to those of us not familiar with this practice is how normal these kidnappings are to the people in the cultures that encourage them. And even more strange is the fact that because these acts are viewed as normal, the marriages commonly evolve into loving, caring relationships.
7 This Student Fell In Love With Her Teacher Kidnapper
We all know that relationships between teachers and students are more common now than ever. But it's a rare case when the teacher actually "kidnaps" his lover students and tries to make a run for it. This was the case in a much-publicized recent news story involving a teacher named Tad Cummins and his 15-year-old lover, Elizabeth Thomas. The 50-year-old man was caught kissing Elizabeth in his classroom multiple times before the two were ordered to stay away from each other and put in different classes.
Then, all of a sudden, Tad Cummins and Elizabeth vanished, and it was clear that they had run away together. One day after the kidnapping, Tad Cummins was fired. A nationwide search was undertaken, and Elizabeth was found in a cabin. According to the authorities, Tad Cummins did not coerce, encourage or force himself on Elizabeth in any way. The general feeling is that this was something that consensually happened between the girl and her "kidnapper." The only reason this is classified as kidnapping is because of the girl's age. Elizabeth's family's lawyer dismisses these ideas, and claims that the incident constitutes a classic case of "grooming" and manipulation.
6 Mary McElroy - Suicide When Her Captors Were Jailed
The case of Mary McElroy was one of the most well-known kidnapping cases in history, and also one of the most frequently used examples of Stockholm syndrome. This woman was the daughter of a judge and City manager of Kansas City back in 1933. The four kidnappers broke into her father's house where she was taking a bubble bath. The men allowed her to get dressed and dry herself before they whisked her away. When she heard that the men were demanding $60,000 in return for her release, she jokingly said, "I'm worth more than that!"
Eventually, the four kidnappers settled for $30,000, and Mary was released a few days after her capture, completely unharmed. This is where it gets weird. McElroy was probably the biggest supporter of her kidnapper's innocence following their arrest. She said that she was given flowers by the leader before she was released. She even met with the kidnappers' family members and tried to help them through their difficult time. In the end, she plead for the leader not to be executed, and his sentence was changed to a life in prison. She even brought them gifts in prison. It seems that she committed suicide after years of struggling with the guilt of their imprisonment, and her suicide note read: "My four kidnappers are probably the four people on earth who don't consider me an utter fool. You have your death penalty now - so - please - give them a chance. Mary."
5 Jaycee Dugard - Said Her Captor Was Like A Husband
Probably the most disgusting case of kidnapping was the terrible case of Jaycee Dugard. This young girl was abducted when she was just 11 years old. When she was 29, she was finally discovered. By that time, Jaycee Dugard had given birth to two girls with her captor and rapist, and had most of her life stolen from her. She was abducted as she was walking to school one day, as a man pulled up beside her in a car, shot her with a stun gun, and pulled her inside his vehicle. Her stepfather tried and failed to catch up with the car on a mountain bike.
The 11-year-old girl was taken to the man's house, where she was forced to shower with the man. She was then raped in a small structure set up in the backyard, and kept in handcuffs for an entire week following her capture. This continued for many months, until she fell pregnant at age 13. She eventually was given more freedom, and helped her captors with many duties. When she was finally found after 18 years, she claimed that her captor was a good man who was great with her kids. She also said that she felt like her relationship with her captor was "like a marriage."
4 Aisha Yerima - Returned To Her Captor After Freedom
Boko Haram is one of the most terrible terror organizations today. One of their common practices is to kidnap young women to be the "wives" of the organization's fighters. One of these kidnapped women was Aisha Yerima, who was forced to be the wife of a Boko Haram commander. Luckily, she was freed along with 70 other women and children. This was organized by a rehabilitation program designed specifically to help women captured by jihadists.
But the strangest thing happened after she was freed. Partway through her rehabilitation, she vanished from her hometown. Soon, word got out that she had returned to the Boko Haram camp to be with her captor. People close to this woman had learned some shocking information. Apparently, Aisha Yerima had learned that her ex-"husband" had taken another wife when she was freed, and that this wife was her rival. So the whole reason she returned to the Boko Haram camp was out of jealousy that another woman had started a relationship with her "husband."
3 Frida Farrell - Kept As "Love" Slave
One of the most high-profile cases of kidnapping was the case of Frida Farrell, who was kept as a sex slave for days after she was promised a modeling job. This case bears very close similarities to the case of Chloe Ayling, and Frida Farrell has spoken out in support for this young girl. But while Chloe Ayling was never raped, Frida Farrell suffered a very different experience. She was drugged and kept in a near-unconscious state while she was gang-raped for days. She only managed to miraculously escape when one of her captors accidentally left the door unlocked.
Her actions and words since then mirror some of the hallmarks of Stockholm syndrome, although Farrell herself seems to understand and acknowledge this. She admits "I don’t know much about the guy, and I try to make up reasons for him doing it and then I could understand why he did it." This is a classic example of Stockholm syndrome, and it shows how people empathize with their captors as a way to avoid accepting what really happened to them.
2 The Cleveland Kidnappings
One of the most high-profile kidnapping cases were the Cleveland Kidnappings, otherwise known as the Ariel Castro kidnappings, after the man responsible. Not one but three women were lured into sexual slavery by their captor, who promised them rides. The women were abducted and kept for many years. One of these women was abused so badly that she needed facial reconstructive surgery afterwards. Another woman was impregnated 5 times by her captor, who frequently raped all three women. But only a few of these pregnancies were allowed to be born, because Ariel Castro continually beat her while pregnant so that they resulted in miscarriages.
When they were eventually freed, they were damaged seemingly beyond repair. One of these women had a small daughter that she managed to escape with. But questions have been raised as to why the women did not try to escape sooner. They seemingly had access to a telephone but waited years before calling 9-1-1. In addition, all 3 women have forgiven the man for what he did, and expressed remorse after he killed himself in prison.
1 Teen Loves Woman Who Abducted Her
Of course, it's not only romantic relationships that are formed between captors and captives. Sometimes, a bond as strong as that of a mother and daughter can blossom even between a woman and a baby who was taken from her parents illegally. Such was the case between Kamiyah Mobley and her captor, Gloria Williams. This woman stole Kamiyah as a baby from a Florida hospital, and raised her as her own. This girl had no idea that the woman she was living with was not her real mother.
The girl, who was 18 years old when found, was going under the name of Alexis Manigo. But the most interesting thing was the fact that Kamiyah was devastated to see her "mother" go to jail. Because after 18 years, they formed a really strong bond, just like the relationship of a real mother and daughter. You could see that Kamiyah really loved Gloria when she cried and shouted "momma" while the court case was underway.