WHY VICTIMS DON’T ALWAYS FLEE
Steve was recognized as an expert by Fox Valley Technical College (Criminal Justice Division, Child Protection Training Center) and asked to present a talk at the National Amber Alert conference on Tuesday, October 27, 2009:
“Lyndsey Ryan was 14 years old when she ran away with a 56-year-old convicted sex offender. She left with him after a long term online relationship and secret meetings in person. The man threatened to kill her family if she tried to leave or disobey him. He also terrorized her by driving by homes and giving graphic details about how he had abused other boys and girls.
“Giving in to him is what I had to do to survive for what I had brought upon myself,” said Lyndsey. “I would not have left compliantly if I wasn’t in fear.”
When Lyndsey finally did leave, the said the justice system treated her like a criminal. The public offered no sympathy because she went with him “willingly.” Social workers put her in a lock down facility for four and one-half months. “I couldn’t tell people what happened without being judged,” she said.
“She was hardened, bitter and alienated,” said Carol Ryan, Lyndsey’s mother. “She was determined to take care of herself because no one else did.” The mother and daughter shared their story at the 2009 National AMBER Alert Symposium so other victims can get help without judgment. “It’s my hope that you treat the next compliant victim with love and respect,” added Carol.
One of the world’s foremost experts on mind control also spoke at the conference and explained how child abductors convince victims to stay. Licensed Mental Health Counselor Steve Hassan said captors instill false beliefs and fear to gain control of the victim. “A person under mind control can’t visualize being away from their captor and being fulfilled,” said Hassan. “There are tricks that are so slick or subtle
that unless you know about it you are a sitting duck.”
Hassan uses the BITE model to explain the four areas where a captor will try and control a person: Behavior, Information, Thoughts and Emotion. Hassan recommended building trust, gathering information and strategically planting doubts to help a victim gain back control. “You ultimately want theperson to empower themselves to take time away from their captor,” said Hassan.
If a child has been abducted, Hassan warned law enforcement and families from attacking the suspect in public. Instead, he suggested convincing the captor that you want to work with him to help the child. “They (captors) want to believe they are great,” said Hassan. “You play to their ego to help bring your child home.” Eventually Lyndsey Ryan was able to get counseling to deal with the issues of running away with a sexual predator. She has reconciled with her family and she is now serving in the military. Lyndsey said Hassan’s presentation made a lot of sense with her own experience and hopes others will be less judgmental towards victims who do not flee. “I think predators have the ability to manipulate,” said Lyndsey. “More understanding is needed about mind control.””