How to write KIDNAPPER ROMANCES

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There are likely thousands of stories on here with the title Kidnapped By ______ *insert vampire, one directioner, or devil's son here*. And from the ones I've heard about and seen published, a lot of them exhibit STOCKHOLM SYNDROME! (this is very, very bad and is NOT a portrayal of a healthy relationship. You must avoid romanticizing Stockholm Syndrome at all costs in your writing, and this how-to explains how.)

Look at this Wikipedia definition of Stockholm Syndrome, particularly the bolded bits: "Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness"

In your story, does the kidnapper abuse the kidnapee? (just for clarity in this post, I'll refer to the kidnapper as male and kidnapee as female, though it absolutely can be switched.) Does she start liking him when he doesn't abuse her as badly as he used to and MISTAKE that lack of abuse as an act of kindness? If not, then you're not writing Stockholm Syndrome. Any forced relationship or arranged marriage that occurs and the two people eventually fall in love with each other is NOT automatically Stockholm Syndrome.

Now, if there IS abuse in their relationship, one way you can prove she isn't displaying signs of Stockholm Syndrome is by making the kidnapper feel regret about how he abused her and then let her go free. If they have to be married for whatever reason, that could mean that instead of locking her in her room all day, he unlocks the door and doesn't stop her from going wherever she wants. He doesn't stop her from seeing whomever she wants. He doesn't just give her a little more food today, he gives her all the food she wants. He doesn't just give her a new dress, he doesn't stop her from going to the mall or market or bazaar and buying whatever clothes she wants.

The key here isn't that he ALLOWS her to do something. It's that he DOESN'T STOP her from doing something. There's a huge difference. One is him giving her permission, which still means she's under his abusive rule. If he doesn't stop her from doing something, he's respecting her decisions and equality as a human being. Make sure she isn't dependent on him for everything and is able to live a fulfilling life on her own. Give her some backbone.

Now, once he's not dictating her decisions and life for her, she has every right to fall in love with him in a non-Stockholm Syndrome-ish, healthy way. But make sure he really regrets the abuse he put her through and is actively working to repent for that.

The repentence here is critical. Make him sacrifice something important, be it physical object, or something more abstract like his higher position in society, or maybe he undergoes some humiliating task in order to better her life in some way. Neglecting her beating or rape today IS not an act of repentence. Not only must he never touch her again, he has to do something very big and of personal meaning to her to make up for all the beatings/rape/otherabuse he put her through. Show us that he really regrets his past actions and he wants to change his ways and make it up to her in any way and every way he can.

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