Does grooming facilitate the development of Stockholm syndrome? The social work practice implications

Shirley Julich, Eileen Oak

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INTRODUCTION: This article focuses on the problem of risk instrumentalism in social work and the way it can erode the relationship-based nature of practice and with it, the kinds of critical reflexivity required for remedial interventions to keep children safe.

METHOD: By exploring the relationship between the process of grooming and the condition known as Stockholm syndrome, the article seeks to address this problem by offering some concepts to inform a critical understanding of case dynamics in the sexual abuse of children which can explain the reluctance of victim-survivors to disclose.

FINDINGS: Beginning with an overview of the development of actuarial risk assessment (ARA) tools the article examines the grooming process in child sexual abuse contexts raising the question: “Is grooming a facilitator of Stockholm syndrome?” and seeks to answer it by examining the precursors and psychological responses that constitute both grooming and Stockholm syndrome.

CONCLUSION: The article identifies the underlying concepts that enable an understanding of the dynamics of child sexual abuse, but also identifies the propensity of practitioners to be exposed to some of the features of Stockholm syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalAotearoa New Zealand Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2016


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