On Tuesday, July 18th, 2017, the DailyMail’s site headline sensationally claimed that Jocelyn Savage (21) was being held against her will in a “sex cult” by the singer and songwriter, R. Kelly (50), who already has a long history of grooming young teenage girls in addition to an indictment for child pornography. While Jocelyn’s father claims she has Stockholm Syndrome, Jocelyn insists she’s “in a happy place.”

So who’s right?

This type of situation has long been of morbid interest to me because I was held against my will until the age of thirty-one. This experience has given me the “inside dope” on just how subtle, how convoluted, how disguised being held against your will can be.

Are you being held against your will? Well, here are ten weird signs from my own experience that show you might actually be a captive.


1. The “That’s Weird!” Facial Expression

If co-workers’, friends’, acquaintances’ faces twist into that familiar, “That’s weird!” expression with one raised eyebrow when they hear about your living situation, that’s a clue! It’s a clue that your situation is not normal, it’s not healthy…you may even be held against your will.

When I finally got permission to move out, my boss said in his adorable accent, “I’m glad you’re finally move out. It was time.”

“But,” I wanted to scream, “it wasn’t me! I wanted to move out years ago, but…”

2. Keeping the Secret

“…I wasn’t allowed to move out. I wasn’t a weirdo!” But I never said that to anyone. I kept the secret, preferring to look “weird” because it was even more embarrassing to admit that I wasn’t “allowed” to move out. It was my deep, dark, shameful secret.

So I made excuses. “My parent needs me cause they have cancer,” was the usual one. Yep, I played the “C” card…and people appeared to buy it.

3. Reluctance to Go/Leave Home

This is a weird one, because it doesn’t seem intuitive. If you’re being held against your will, wouldn’t you be excited to leave your home? Ah, not necessarily.

In the throes of Stockholm Syndrome, you may discover that you’re talking yourself out of going anywhere, doing things, pushing the limits…even to have fun. On the flip side of this same dynamic, is a reluctance to go home at all. If you’re working longer and longer hours or finding all kinds of excuses to not go home, that’s a clue!

4. What Do They Gain?

What’s in it for the person holding you? Money? Favors? Domestic labor? Sex? What!?! Because they aren’t holding you merely for the pleasure of your society! So, what in it for them?

Too late I realized there was a lot in it for those who were holding me. Hundreds of dollars in monthly rent as my mother so eloquently said, “Why should you pay a landlord when you can give the money to us?”. All errands done for free. Transportation to doctor and even dentist appointments. Domestic labor. Help with the lawn, the plumbing, the cars, everything. Taking care of an agoraphobic woman who had no friends. In addition, they were the beneficiaries of my Will and the holders of my Power of Attorney. Later on, they also became beneficiaries of my hefty life insurance policy.

Oh, they had a lot to lose if I got away from them.

5. Mind Games

It can be extremely difficult for the person being held against their will to realize they are being held against their will. And yet, aside from an intervention, you are the only one who can help yourself. When I spoke to the police about my situation, even Law Enforcement had no defined protocol for handling situations like I, Jocelyn Savage and perhaps even Jana Duggar find ourselves in. After all, we had transportation, so we were “free to leave.”

Right?

WRONG!!!

One of the weirdest clues that “all is not well in the Kingdom” is how much thought it takes to convince yourself that you’re in a good place, a happy place, the place where you should be. It simply takes too many mind games, too much work, too much effort to try to be happy.

When I was held against my will, the Mind Games were daily affairs. As soon as I left the office to return home, my mind raced around the same circle of thoughts. I want to move out, but “they” told me such-and-such, “they” needed me to do XYZ, blah, blah, blah. The mental track was well-worn and full or ruts and potholes from being trod day-in and day-out.

If it takes that much thought to reconcile yourself to your living situation, you’re probably in the wrong living situation.

6. No Friends / No Family

In 2005 I joined MENSA and started attending their monthly local dinners. Most fun I ever had! But now and then a dirty joke or two was told…and my mother influenced me to stop going because of it. A few years later, my cousin invited me to her wedding. Again, I wasn’t allowed to go because the venue was “too far away.” No friends were “good enough”; no boyfriends were wholesome enough. I was alone.

If your captor is preventing you from attending family functions, going out with friends, having romantic relationships or generally enjoying yourself, watch out! You’re being held against your will.

7. Putting on a Smile

Every time I picked up the phone to call home for my mandatory check-ins, I put on the happy voice. Every time I stepped in the door, I put on the happy face. It was a conscious choice and extremely draining. But it was necessary. Required. Sadness, depression, moroseness were verboten. Yet, they were my frequent companions.

If it takes that much energy to look happy, sound happy and convince yourself you’re happy in your living situation, then you aren’t happy in your living situation.

8. Fingers In All the Pies

While not much is known about the intimate details of R. Kelly’s life and partners, there are rumors. They say his women are only allowed to wear “modest” (i.e. baggy) tracksuits so no one can see their figures. Rumor also has it that the women in his “harem” must ask for permission to eat, bathe, etc. The word is that they are only allowed specific cell phones and R. Kelly must approve of all their contacts and he employs a chauffeur (e.g. deputy) to control their movements and whereabouts.

In other words, if someone else besides you has their fingers in all the pies of your life, you are also being held captive. Oh, you may have some freedoms. You may even have a car, friends, etc., but are you truly free?

Do all decisions have to be discussed and decided together? Can you go when and where you want to without shame, guilt, drama? The excuses of “morality” or “safety” are just that: excuses to control you.

If someone else has their fingers in the details of your life, you may be held against your will.

9. Weird Fascinations

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If stories about people in cults, people held underground, people held against their will are one of your weir fascinations, that too is a clue!

Although you may be in denial, your unconscious realizes the similarities between those stories and your own genteel captivity.

10. Put It in Writing

Last year, I was shocked to find that I had put my situation in words when writing to a long forgotten friend. “I live here…” I wrote, “against my will…” There it was. In black-and-white. Irrefutable proof. Look back through your journals, your emails, your texts, your IMs. Did you put it into words…without even realizing it.

…and one more just for luck…

If you feel sorry for your “captor”…if they “need you so much”….if they sob when you mention moving on or get angry and yell “FINE! Why don’t you just move out then!” as my mother did…if you’re scared to move on…if the phrase “the weak have great power” describes your captor…

Oh yeah! You’re being held against your will for sure. It’s called Stockholm Syndrome, baby.

Remember, even a gilded cage is still a cage. I’ve tried life both ways. Genteel, comfortable captivity and poverty-stricken freedom. Gimme freedom any day. No amount of money or bribes makes captivity a worthwhile existence.


Being held against your will can be done so subtly, disguised under so many altruisms, that it’s almost impossible to discern what exactly is going on. I hope the “weird” clues above are helpful to those who are uncomfortable in their homes. If home makes you miserable and so-called love hurts, you may be held against your will!