New York, NY – On June 26th the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and other trafficking victims’ advocacy organizations will hold a press conference to express their dismay at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office’s dismissal of sex trafficking charges against four defendants charged with sex trafficking a young woman in Crown Heights for almost ten years, from the time she was 13-years-old. During the press conference, experts will discuss a misunderstood feature of this case resulting in dismissal of the charges: the victim’s psychological bond with her abusers. Like most girls and young women under pimp control, and like many victims of domestic violence, the victim expressed feelings of love for her tormentors, at times wished to protect them from punishment, blamed herself for her victimization, and repeatedly returned to them. This psychological condition, sometimes called “Stockholm Syndrome” and designated “traumatic bonding” by mental health professionals, is widespread among victims of severe and prolonged sexual and physical violence.
Advocates will also discuss the media’s misplaced emphasis on the role of race and religion in this case. In New York City, most sex trafficking victims are girls and young women from minority groups who grew up in conditions of poverty. Their poverty and minority status render them vulnerable and are exploited in the sexual stereotypes projected onto them by traffickers, who evoke them in marketing their victims to johns. This case is no different.