Victim suffers from Stockholm syndrome: witness on woman rescued from cult leader

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Friday, May 16, 2014


THE woman allegedly detained by cult leader Casiano Apduhan needs “intensive and holistic psychological intervention” because she suffers from Stockholm syndrome, according to a prosecution witness.

Psychologist Maryjun Delgado, who took the stand yesterday morning, said Emma Bocabal Nepomuceno has been “emotionally and psychologically vulnerable” since joining Apduhan’s group in 2008.

“Emma’s experience with her marriage, with her religious affiliation and life in the villa of her ‘Tatay Boy’ (Apduhan) is classic Stockholm syndrome,” she said. “She embraced it (the group) without scrutiny and irrationally swallowed into her system all the beliefs fed her. Then with her weakness, she was taken advantaged of and became an easy prey for blind conformity.”

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Not a mental disorder

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that makes a victim sympathize with a captor.

Delgado clarified it is not a mental disorder.

Nepomuceno was rescued by the National Bureau of Investigation 7 and the Provincial Women’s Commission in Apduhan’s villa in Barangay Buanoy, Balamban, Cebu last March 26.

Delgado was the second prosecution witness presented before the Toledo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 59 during the hearing on the motion filed by Apduhan’s lawyer, Danilo Yap.

Yap wants the serious illegal detention case filed against his client dismissed for lack of evidence.

Delgado said psychological intervention will help Nepomuceno “go back to reality, dissociate from irrational beliefs, join and bond with her family and be able to integrate normally again with the society.”

‘Balamban syndrome’

Yap came up with the phrase “Balamban syndrome” during cross-examination to refute Delgado’s claim Nepomuceno is afflicted with Stockholm syndrome.

He said during and after the hearing that Delgado is an “incompetent” witness because she has yet to personally examine Nepomuceno.

Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jasmine Despi said Delgado may be “incompetent,” but
the court allowed her to be presented as an expert witness.

Delgado said she based her findings on secondary sources like court transcripts, affidavits of Nepomuceno and prosecution witnesses, case studies and psychology-related literature.

One of the bases for Delgado’s conclusion that Nepomuceno has Stockholm syndrome is the initial evaluation report by another psychologist, Rosemarie Gonato.

Gonato described the victim as “depressed, traumatized by the rescue, vulnerable in emotional and psychological state, easily overwhelmed by her feelings, and that her experiences make her confused and reserved with her responses.”

Nepomuceno joined the group after she broke up with her husband. Her marital problem also caused her to be depressed.

Symptoms

Gonato noted that the victim was “happy” about the rescue and “at the same time traumatized.” The victim further said she found freedom, but did not elaborate on the matter.

Symptoms of Stockholm syndrome include “positive feelings by the victim towards abuser; negative feelings of the victim towards his/her own family, friends or authorities who tried to rescue/support him/her; he/she strongly supports the reasons and behaviors of abuser/captor; positive feelings by the abuser towards the victim; supportive behaviors by the victim, and even helping the abuser/captor; inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in separation or detachment from abuser/captor.”

Delgado said social or clinical psychologist like her does not need to interact with the victim to complete her “profiling.”

Yap said pushing the Stockholm syndrome argument is baseless.

“There was no detention or what,” said Yap. “It is not an established fact.”

Objection

Nepomuceno, in her affidavit, denied she was detained by Apduhan, whom she considered as “sacred and holy.”

Yap said adjectives like “captor, perpetrator and abuser” are not applicable to his client.

The prosecution told Montero they will present a third witness, the doctor who examined Nepomuceno’s injuries.

The doctor said in her findings the injuries were inflicted by another person.

Despi said the doctor’s testimony refuted Nepomuceno’s claim that she got the bruises in her arm when she fell on the stairs.

Yap objected, saying the prosecution promised that Delgado would be the last witness.

RTC Branch 59 Judge Hermes Montero told the prosecution to include the doctor’s testimony.

“We hope he (Apduhan) will be indicted for the crime because there is enough evidence,” said Despi. “I would say we have very good case here.”

Thelma Chiong of the Crusade against Violence was present at yesterday’s hearing to support the victim.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 16, 2014.

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