Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial Part II: Victim or Abuser?

Following up Tuesday's post about Travis Alexander and some of the predictors that could have revealed impending violence, today we look at factors to be considered when determining whether Jodi Arias was a victim or an abuser.

Factor 1: Before victims come to the agonizing conclusion that murder is their only option, most will exhaust every possible means to avoid the abuse and make every effort to fix their relationships. This is supported by volumes of research data and has been confirmed by my professional experience. Sadly, victims will do just about anything to make things right with their perpetrators because they have been conditioned and groomed to take ownership of the abuse. The duration and severity of the psychological torment that accompanies domestic violence leaves most victims desperate and fearful. Victims who have been cornered and trapped psychologically truly believe there is no other way out but murder. Many of these will have suffered in silence and been severely abused for years before they reach the point of lethality. Yet, contrary to common opinion, domestic violence victims have a great deal of resiliency that they build up over time – this is how they endure abusive relationships for so long. Early in relationships, victims are able to manage the psychological and emotional abuse that prepared them for eventual physical assault by their partners. Victims overcompensate to prevent abuse, yet they can often anticipate the next psychological blow. They make every effort to thwart the attacks—always assuming they can control the violent outbursts. Unfortunately, time and lack of accountability move abusers from subtle or implied threats to physical assault. Battered women’s syndrome is a process not a single event. It's not about the electric bill or someone not taking out the trash. Victims are groomed and isolated so abusers can indoctrinate them.

Factor 2: Battered victims who resort to lethality have doubt, reservation, hesitation and remorse. Based on interviews, news clips, and testimony, the behaviors in this case do not demonstrate that any of these conflicted feelings existed. Jodi indicated in her testimony that she had lied to preserve Travis’ reputation. I believe every behavior is motivated by an intention. Jodi's stated concern for Travis' reputation appears to contradict her leaving Travis naked and exposed after his murder. In my opinion, extreme humiliationnot preservation of reputationwould be the likely result of leaving him this way. Because most victims truly love their abusers, most would have covered up the perpetrator after committing murder to protect and preserve the victim's dignity.

Factor 3: Perpetrators meticulously maneuver to strip victims of their income, friends, family and resources to distort the victims’ perceptions. Most abuse recipients are not permitted to control their own lives; this manipulation by perpetrators is rooted in their deep fear of loss and abandonment. Therefore to launch a successful assault, abusers must control the propaganda to achieve and maintain brainwashing. It doesn’t appear that Jodi experienced any captivity—she was free to come and go as she pleased. She still had external input, access to money, a safe physical distance and a support system that she could depend upon.

Factor 4: Perpetrators don’t physically abuse until they feel they have to, and only after they interpret they have lost emotional control. A repetitive cycle of tension, explosion and relief occurs. In the early stages of abuse, remorse for bad behavior often accompanies the assaults where the perpetrator begs for forgiveness. The perpetrators’ tender regrets confuse the victims because the words and the actions don’t match and victims start feeling as if they're crazy. Perpetrators can lie much better than victims can tell the truth. Eventually a psychological break occurs and the victims become convinced they are the problem. The cycle then mutates and escalates up to tension and explosion—the honeymoon is over. When pleas for apologies become insincere in the victims’ eyes and their abusers know it, that is when the abusers feel the need to strike. While the cycle is different for everyone, in cases of physically battered personsespecially those experiencing syndrome patterns of behavioremotional assaults are rampant long before a hand is ever raised. This does not mean that if you are emotionally abused you will be physically abuse, but it does mean if you are physically abused, the psychological blows came first.

Factor 5: Comparing her physical size to his, Jodi had to have caught Travis off guard in order to overpower him. Victims who have a gun would most likely lock their fingers on the trigger and rapid fire to ensure their assailant was stopped. The distance gives them the advantage to overtake their assailants. When there’s a pointed gun and the threat, “Stop or I’ll shoot” most people would comply. However, it seems more likely that Travis was trapped in the shower fighting for his life. Multiple stab wounds to the back, head and heart indicated a close-in attack.

Factor 6: Travis cherished his position in the community and most likely would have allowed Jodi to run out of the house, had she felt threatened, to preserve his flawless reputation. Based on friends’ comments and Travis' own statements, it could be argued that his community standing was more important to him than she was. Travis' behavior strongly suggests that he welcomed Jodi's departure from his life on many occasions, yet is not indicative of an abuser. He would not have wanted to risk the embarrassment of such exposure.

Factor 7: Jodi indicated that she experienced shaking like a Chihuahua when verbally confronted by people like Travis or prosecutor Juan Martinez. This textbook depiction is how many battered women describe their nervousness during domestic violence episodes. However, when retelling their stories, victims typically reenact the violence through their body language, tone and facial expressions. Jodi's observable body language during testimony and while making statements outside of court displayed no evidence of a personal and emotional recounting of traumatic events.  

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