Traumatic bonding

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Traumatic bonding is a theory that academics have come up with to explain why children reconcile with adults who had sex with them. According to this theory, "The abused normalizes the maltreatment because intermittent rewards are given along with punishments. Also, the abused learns that the best strategy for survival is to accept the demands of the abuser. Over time, it becomes a habitual ‘de facto’ situation for the victim. Child sex entrepreneurs continually convince the child that the abuse is her fault and no one really loves her. Battered women’s syndrome (Walker, 1992) asserts that a victim exposed to ongoing trauma often is afraid to leave even if given the opportunity. Similarly, child victims who escape the clutches of brothel owners usually return to the familiarity of their exploitive circumstances."[1]

The theory ignores or rejects the possibility that the child continues the relationship because it is mutually beneficial.


  1. Thomas R. Panko & Babu P. George (2012). "Child sex tourism: exploring the issues". Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society 25 (1): 67-81. doi:DOI:10.1080/1478601X.2012.657904. 

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