Isolated by Stockholm Syndrome?: More Thoughts on Sammi of “Jersey Shore”

1 Sep

Sammi on one side ... Deena, Jenni "J-Woww", and Nicole "Snooki" on the other (courtesy of WeAllScheme.com)

Yesterday’s post was my first about “Jersey Shore” Sammi Giancola’s abusive relationship with her co-star and boyfriend Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. I’ve decided to write a mini-series on Sammi for 2 reasons: 1) I’m addicted to “Jersey Shore”, and 2) I’m interested in talking about all types of abuse, though rape will remain the focus of this blog.

Please click away now if you can’t stand “Jersey Shore” … I won’t hold it against you!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Defending her man (courtesy of MTV.com)

Back to the Start

Sammi’s claim-to-fame for being on “Jersey Shore”, apart from being half of the most miserable reality TV couple in America, is her epic fight with Jenni “J-Woww” Farley. If you’ve been watching the show, you remember the beef. At the end of season 1, feeling punked by Sammi’s flirtation with other guys as revealed on the reunion show, Ronnie went on a vindictive trip. Season 2 in Miami began with Ronnie partying hard at nightclubs, hooking up with ladies at random, coming home to sleep with Sammi, and the rest of their housemates feeling suffocated by guilt for keeping Ronnie’s secret. Back then, Sammi was like the teased kid at school who doesn’t realize she’s been tagged with a “kick me” sign on her back. She suspected that Ronnie was cheating, but asking never got her any direct answers, and everyone was treating her awkwardly.

“Who Wrote tha Note?”

The guys in the house weren’t going to do it, so Jenni and Nicole took it upon themselves to tell Sammi about what Ronnie had been up to behind her back and put her out of her misery. They wrote an ‘anonymous’ letter detailing all of Ronnie’s dirt and left it out for Sammi to find, but Sammi hated them when she found out. In season 2, Sammi and Jenni faced off. In season 3, Sammi and Jenni faced off again. Sammi briefly left the Jersey Shore after being terrorized by Ronnie and nobody seemed to care that she was gone. Everyone in the house had such a low opinion of her that by the reunion show, the only person who was really still talking to Sammi was season 3’s new addition Deena.

Yesterday I said that I think one of the biggest problems viewers have with Sammi is that she comes across as a complete idiot. Sammi has done some bone-headed things for sure, but is it all really because she’s an airhead, or could it be something more?

Out of control (courtesy of Nj.com)

Stockholm Syndrome

according to Wikipedia.org, is a psychology term used to describe “a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.” It was originally coined to describe kidnapping situations, but has been found in victims of situations like domestic abuse, prisoners of war, cult members, incest, and controlling relationships. A person experiencing Stockholm Syndrome tends to show the following symptoms (found at CounsellingResource.com):

  • Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
  • Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
  • Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
  • Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
  • Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
  • Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment

Does this sound anything like Sammi?

  • She displayed positive feelings toward Ronnie, even after he cheated on her in season 2 just to get back at her.
  • She displayed negative feelings toward Jenni and Nicole when she found out that they wrote the anonymous letter. She was in 2 fist fights with Jenni over the same issue, and didn’t attempt to make up with the girls until the near end of season 3. She’s also been hateful toward Mike, who once sat her down in season 2 and tried to tell her about Ronnie’s cheating face to face – she uses Mike constantly as an excuse for relationship turmoil with Ronnie, even in season 4.
  • While Sammi may never have come out and said, “I agree with the way Ronnie treats me”, she doesn’t confront him about his painful actions. She will scream and cry, but seems afraid of telling Ronnie things like, “You were dead wrong to trash my side of the room”, “I don’t deserve to be cheated on” (which he just admitted to continuing in this week’s episode), or “You don’t have any right to put your hands on me or scream in my face”. One of the more sickening displays was at the end of season 3 (see the photo below) where everyone in the house tried to shame Sammi for having an old male friend appear at a nightclub to see her so soon after breaking up with Ronnie. She never got upset with Ronnie for being attacked, but put her frustration on her friend and Mike, who exposed her business.
  • It’s clear that Ronnie has positive feelings towards Sammi. It’s not love, but he says in confessionals that he loves her. Sammi’s the only girl Ronnie has had eyes for on the show – unless you count all the girls he made out with at random.
  • Sammi has shown her support of Ronnie’s behavior by fighting with Jenni over his cheating, as well as ganging up on Deena in the first episode of season 3. They also seem to share hate for Mike, who is Ronnie’s worst enemy. And then there are all the screaming matches Sammi has entertained from Ronnie.
  • Sammi definitely seems unable to detach from Ronnie. She’s rarely seen out on her own or with other housemates (although she’s improved a lot in season 4), and doesn’t seem to have or want any interests apart from Ronnie. Even at nightclubs where everyone seems to be having a good time, Sammi is the one that can be found with a drink in hand, watching what Ronnie is doing even while she tries to make herself have fun without him.

Defending herself (courtesy of MTV.com)

Mind control

Not every victim of an abusive relationship has Stockholm Syndrome. From CounsellingResource.com, there are 4 conditions that are usually present in a situation where Stockholm Syndrome is likely to develop:

  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation

and the list seems like it’s all there for Sammi and Ronnie. In season 1, Ronnie showed hints of his terrifying nature when he got into a bar fight over Sammi and knocked a guy out cold with one punch. He went to jail. Who wouldn’t be afraid of being on the receiving end of that rage someday? Sammi was attracted to Ronnie’s “juicehead” looks and won over by his normally sweet gestures and apparent adoration of her – so she probably already had a great image of him in her mind when Ronnie’s angry side came out, and would have found it difficult to exchange that for the real Ronnie. By isolating herself from making friendships in season 1 and sticking between Ronnie and Mike, Sammi lost perspective of anything other than Ronnie, and didn’t feel the negative effect of that until he dropped her before season 2. Now that Sammi’s a part of the “Jersey Shore” mill, she’s stuck in living quarters with Ronnie until the show is cancelled or runs its course. Where’s there for her to escape to? The housemates who were turned off by Sammi’s behavior in seasons 2 and 3? Home? Maybe after Italy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: