You may be interested in a new resource we have on this topic published April 2020 Attachment theory in practice by Sally Wassell.

Attachment, abuse and neglect

Child care workers often encounter children who, despite abuse or neglect by their parent or main carer, nevertheless demonstrate strong attachments to them. It is often difficult to fully accept the extent of such loyalty and attachment, especially in cases where the impulse is to 'rescue' them.

However, an appreciation of the instinctual and biological basis for making attachments can help with understanding how deep the ties go. The need for an emotional base is a primary emotional requirement and even the shakiest of bases will be clung to in the face of the unknown. If faced with the prospect of separation from parents with little understanding of what may be the alternative, even very ill-treated children can show separation protest and anxiety.