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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Domestic and Family Violence: Get the Picture

I am doing a 2nd edition on my book, "Breaking Free, Starting Over: Parenting in the Aftermath of Family Violence." To the untrained eye, domestic violence and child abuse are hard to picture. We are not there to capture the screams, the blood and the tears shed. But with the recent attention the NFL has received on domestic violence and child abuse, people appear outraged. My question is what do  people think domestic violence and family violence look like? I was unsurprised by Ray Rice's actions because the video is EXACTLY what domestic violence looks like.  And Adrian Peterson's switch-yeilding beating is PRECISELY what child abuse happens. Now that we get the picture let's apply it to everyone who suffers with abuse and become intolerant. Let's stay on this bandwagon and shift our paradigm. No excuse for abuse!

People with abusive tendencies are often charismatic, good looking and successful. Unhealthy people don't always look like hunchback monsters and they live in every socioeconomic group. They are everyday people who have had violence role modeled to them as not only acceptable but effective in getting their needs met. Their actions, whether wittingly or unwittingly, are learned as children and passed down through the generations. In order to stop abuse however we need to start looking for solutions. I have worked for 30 years with people who have abused their families and most welcome healthy tools to make their lives different. To make the abuse stop however we have to be intolerant of excuses and expect healthier role modeling from those who are in positions to change society's views on battering. Athletes, for example, do not spit on referees because it's not tolerated and there are consequences that matter to them. Instead of focusing on the problem let's use preexisting methods that work to generate solutions like clear consequences and firm expectations. Zero tolerance. Maybe more importantly, telling people what you want from them rather than what you don't want, often motivates change. Give them tools to do it right. Power and control over your life is what everyone wants. When you don't have power and control that is when you want to use power and control over others. Providing tools that assist with managing life successfully, and well, naturally attrits the violent behaviors.

Our most precious commodity is our children and they are witnessing violence and learning to use it as a means to getting what they want. Everyone deserves to be heard and to get their needs met appropriately so if we listen and regard our families with respect and honor, kids will learn compassion, patience and peace. They can get what they want without anyone else being hurt. We need to reexamine what we think domestic and family abuse look like and then take actions to stop the violence

Monday, September 15, 2014

NFL & Domestic Violence: When Money Matters More…

The NFL made a monumental move by attempting to tackle domestic violence and now are rolling over because money talks, so abusers walk. It seems the league has intercepted the first ever outrage and is supporting violence against vulnerable women and children. It appears that Peterson’s team lost its momentum and seems willing to overlook assault so they can win. Money matters more so they’re going to welcome him to play. The messages sent to victims are, “You must live in fear…and nobody’s stepping in.” If the league wants to let the legal process play out maybe Peterson and his other abusing buddies should play without pay and donate the proceeds to assist victims with the therapy they’ll need to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If they really respect the game and want the privilege to play football, they’ll do what they have to do to stay in the game.  Peterson, Rice, Hardy and McDonald’s behaviors disgrace the teams they represent. They are not being held accountable. They don’t have to take accountability.

Domestic violence in the NFL has been exposed. The waking giant has been provoked and is finally paying attention. The choice to reinstate, bring back or caudle these abominations is greedy and irresponsible. What does it take before we stop tolerating this, another OJ? When are we going to take family violence seriously? The sad part of all of this, besides the obvious, is that domestic violence can be changed. It can be eradicated. People who commit family violence are simply acting out their past with societal tolerance, endorsement, reward and passivity. Abusers don’t know what they don’t know but by ignoring the atrocities we only perpetuate and guarantee further trauma.

These players need education. They need to recognize their unhealthy behaviors. They need assistance with understanding what they’ve done. Treating them like privileged elitists instead of making them accountable is an atrocity. This is a sad day for victims as they now know they can’t get away. Domestic violence is about power and control. We just taught women and children that if you love abusers you’ve made your bed and you need to lie in it. We judge victims by asking them why they stay but then we turn our backs by rewarding their assailants and judge the victims when they tell or leave. Shame, shame, shame on the powers-that-be who are more concerned with the bottom line. Letting money matter more does an injustice to families and society.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NFL Can't Change What They've Done. They Can Only Change What They Do!

All TMZ did was report the average day in the life of every battered woman in this country and it doesn’t matter why it took so long, it only matters that society isn’t burying its head in the sand anymore. The assault against Janay Rice is what domestic violence looks like—sometimes even worse. It is the reality for victims and their children. Their plight has been minimized and disregarded for generations.

Domestic violence advocates, myself included, have been championing for justice but our “rants,” as novice people call them, have been ignored because society believes domestic violence is a private matter.  I have boycotted professional sports for 25 years because of the assaults players have been able to get away with because of their status. I literally walk out of a room or I leave the building when a game is on because of my appalling distaste for the tolerance for violence against women. People considered my ban silly, but protesting was important to me. I shouted my disdain from the mountaintops as an international speaker, author and director of a nonprofit called CHANCE (Changing How Adults Nurture Children’s Egos) to train professionals, parents and partners about the devastation of family violence.  The mission at CHANCE goes one step further in the campaign to support families: we provide replacement skills to people to assist them with getting their needs met the right way. Here’s the most amazing part: when people are given healthier tools and see that they can be heard and regarded the right way, they use them. Violence is a learned behavior based on the inability to cope and emote properly but more importantly violence is violence because we allow it.

Being perpetrators or victims are not life sentences. I see people change everyday but it starts with intolerance. In the past, I’ve heard some of the most asinine excuses for athletes’ behaviors like, “I know he tore the hinges off the door, but he’s such an awesome hockey player” or “That girl is probably lying about the rape but this guy sure can shoot a basketball like nobody’s business.”

The cover up for domestic/family violence is insidious and reaches way beyond professional sports leagues. The police officer who charged the victim in this case is no different than a lot of the police officers serving our cities and our nation. I know countless accounts of law enforcement not only failing to serve and protect but also grossly carrying out miscarriages of justice. Advocating for victims has been frustratingly perplexing because champions for the cause have experienced unconscionable roadblocks generated by people’s willingness to turn away or even punish victims for their predicaments. The catch-22 is if victims stay they are blamed for making their beds, but when they leave they get blamed too. The legal system goes beyond police officers and a victim trudging through the system is like trying to push their way through a Hong Kong traffic jam. The courts are just as guilty, insensitive and infected, as they use ridiculous terms like Parent Alienation Syndrome to describe victims’ protection of their children. Victims are forced to co-parent or often lose custody of their children to their perpetrators under the guise of failure to protect…but more disturbingly is that the courts then give custody to the very persons who abused the victims.
Case in point: one officer arrested a pregnant woman whose perpetrator had been starving her 8-year old daughter and her. They had been held prisoners in a locked room and she literally clawed her way out by scratching and overpowering him. Visualize that picture. Although this guy had four prior domestic violence convictions, the police officer arrested her and labeled her the primary aggressor!  Due to her conviction, she was ineligible for victims’ shelter because she was now labeled as an abuser. And the perpetrator taunted her because there wasn’t anything she could do. Now he didn’t even have to lock the doors because she was trapped in isolation.

Another victim was sleeping in her bed when her ex-husband broke into her apartment and commenced choking her. The police in that case arrested her because the assailant had significant scratch marks on his arms during her attempt to pry his hands away from her neck.  These stories are not the exception; it’s the reality for battered victims and their children. And unfortunately, the buck doesn’t even stop here. Judges, often female ones at that, refuse to give restraining orders to victims even when the evidence is overwhelming that the victims are in peril. What the average citizen fails to realize is that domestic/family terrorism is the reason we have so much mental illness, so much crime and so much violence, period. In my practice 100% of incarcerated prisoners I’ve worked with have witnessed or experienced family violence—one hundred percent!

I say kudos to TMZ and the NFL for exposing the Ray & Janay Rice case, but the work is just starting. Janay’s life is in potential danger because batterers externalize their behaviors. He’s going to blame her for losing his job.  The police officer’s response enabled Ray Rice to blame her. Taking this to its logical conclusion, what’s going to happen when he blames her for losing his $50 million job? Social tolerance allowed Ray Rice to get to this point because he didn’t spit on refs, he didn’t beat up other players, and he didn’t punch his coach...because those behaviors were against the rules. Let’s move away from why it took the NFL so long to switch gears and get it right. What matters, is they did. I would like to see similar intolerance for this heinous crime throughout the rest of society. Police officers need to serve and protect, judges need to hand out restraining orders whenever anyone is or feels endangered—regardless, and education and training need to be given to both perpetrators and victims alike so each can make an informed decision about how to live their lives differently. TMZ painted the picture of domestic violence for us all to see, but now it’s time for action. 

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Touchdown! Goodell Scores with NFL’s New Domestic Violence Policy

According to Fox News, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stiffer penalties for players found guilty of domestic violence. A paradigm shift of this magnitude has the potential to change history literary and family advocates across the country are singing his praise. This is truly one of those small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind. Fox News reported that Goodell made a commitment to take steps that “Properly reflect our values…Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."
I have been a family advocate for 30 years; and have championed for the rights of children who witness the interpersonal violence their parents inflict upon one another and Goodell’s new stance is music to my ears. I founded a nonprofit organization called CHANCE (Changing How Adults Nurture Children’s Egos) and our mission is to put families’ worlds back together piece by peace. Victims and perpetrators in our programs change their unhealthy behaviors when given more appropriate tools that give them control over their lives. When supported in a non-judging way they want to do the right thing for their families but it starts with zero tolerance. Goodell’s proposed plan allows players to make a choice to have a promising future or to maintain their commitment to violence. Money talks and ignorance walks. When expectations are clearly lined out and implemented correctly, people will change for the prestige of being a professional athlete. If particular athletes don’t want to play by the rules then they should go and not let the locker door hit them in the @$$. Football is a privilege and the sport deserves to not be marred with blemishes from those few spotty players who feel entitled to bully others.
The consequences of stopping violence and strengthening healthy behaviors promote wellness for society as a whole. Kids need role models who show them how to live well. The exponential impact is far-reaching and the national football league's new perspective is a catalyst that starts a wave of peace. Behavioral professionals claim it takes approximately three generations of natural selection to prune unhealthy behaviors and reinforce new healthy ones. This means today’s football players can eradicate violence for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s children simply by adding integrity and honor back into the game.

Goodell isn’t letting his players drop the ball anymore and I hope we can create a social media challenge that sweeps the nation and allows other professional leagues to pick up the ball and run with it. Thanks NFL you have a new fan!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Intimate Terrorists

A discussion on the talk show Outnumbered and an online article from the HuffPost reported research claiming women’s aggression is just as violent as that of men. I'm perplexed as to why we want to continue finding someone to be the villain. Courts already struggle with calling it domestic violence because of the implications and consequences that label brings. We are at an impasse; our heels are dug in so deeply that fault has become the objective. I once spoke on a panel where men were cheering the praises of research with findings very similar to these. One audience participant proudly announced, “It’s terrific to finally know that men are right!” I retorted, “Why do we have to be right, why can’t we just make it right?” I knocked him off the blaming bandwagon and it was hard for anyone to argue my suggestion as it made sense.

Nevertheless, it seems someone has to be wrong, which creates a lose/lose situation in which nobody can really win. Family violence is everybody’s business and responsibility to thwart...everyone deserves to feel safe regardless of gender. We would be foolish to pretend that society doesn’t endorse violence whether is patriarchal, matriarchal, racially motivated or from affluenza (a disease sparked by wealth and privilege)…we see it everyday. Perhaps the difference now is that women’s aggressive behavior is being glamorized, promoting more violence. The study also noted that women are most aggressive toward men, while men are more aggressive toward other men. So what? Violence is violence no matter how it's packaged. We have bred protective instincts out of our DNA by rationalizing that couples fight, relationships are hard or finding a damsel in distress is good for the soul. It’s not. Let’s recognize the word stress in distress and stop minimizing poor communication skills by writing them off as bad days. Behavior is progressive and gets worse over time when people aren't given boundaries and limitations. The study also focused on young people in their late teens and early 20s. This is a time when hormones are raging and the brain's frontal lobe is not fully developed. These young adults aren't always capable of recognizing consequences. They don’t have a voice yet. They haven’t fully emancipated from their parents to develop healthy coping skills. They haven’t matured or discovered who they are yet. Is it fair to research an under-developed population and treat them as representative of stereotypical behavior or to make blanket statements that one sex is more aggressive or controlling than another? What’s the point? We need solutions not more problems. The money used for this study can have been better allocated to programs that teach resiliency, protective factors or assertiveness training.

Practicing Good Law or Playing the Devil’s Advocate? You decide!

A miscarriage of justice and humanity seems to have happened once again in the recent trial about Travis Alexander's murder. What has our country come to when defense attorneys are permitted to guilt and blame jury members by suggesting to them that deciding on the death penalty would make them responsible for a convicted murders' demise? Isn't Jodi responsible for the heinous slaughter of Travis Alexander? Isn't Jodi responsible for being convicted of first degree murder? Wouldn't Jodi be responsible if the jury decided on a death penalty verdict? Unfortunately, the American legal system has created loopholes and “protections” of rights that provide the opportunity for such a twisted placing of blame on the jury. If this were the exception and not the rule I would just say this case has bad form. But unfortunately, there is a pattern of behavior that shows numerous other instances where cold-blooded murderers are forgiven and – sometimes even set free – because their defense attorneys twisted the law, skewed the truth and used emotional extortion to win their cases. Our justice system appears to no longer be about fair trials, but rather who can use the law and bend the evidence to keep clients out of prison and, in the end, keep abusers on the street. Is it any wonder why men, women and children of family violence are killed, maimed, scarred and psychologically tortured in droves? Don't we blame victims by judging them and asking why they stay in these abusive relationships? One thing is clear: we collectively tolerate family violence and abuse. We don't have tough laws against abusers and we don't enforce those we already have on the books. When we finally decide we want to put an end to this barbaric practice, things will change. Not before.
Laws that were intended to ensure defendants were not unjustly accused show that loopholes now help set murderers free. Judicial dog and pony shows minimize domestic murder and crime making such rulings a joke. What is more disturbing is the aftermath and the decisions made now ensure that it will be even more difficult for victims to flee safely because no one believes them or even cares about them. The resounding message sent to terror victims is that even with a preponderance of evidence that proves premeditated murder, you cannot win against your abusers—even in death. You cannot fight back. You can only die or stay in the abusive relationship and silently suffer for the rest of your life.

Every behavior has a consequence. Do the defense attorneys' efforts to save their clients sacrifice and jeopardize others? What happens when clients are set free as a result of these types of legitimized and tolerated maneuvers? Have we gone too far to protect the rights of the accused? Or do we need these types of safety nets? Will murderers kill again if they are set free? Who do we hold accountable if they do kill again? If blaming the jury is invoked to save a convict's life, who is to blame when the same convict is eventually released and kills again? What do defendants learn when they are allowed to blame others for their actions? Is it right for jurys to be manipulated by defendants and attorneys dressing alike – diffusing guilt of the client through paired association? Should victims be the brunt of character assassination and false accusations when they cannot be proven and the victim can't defend their reputation? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I question whether the tactics used reflect a good legal defense or being an advocate for The Devil. In any case, I am sick—sick for all the victims in the future that will be impacted by what took place on May 23, 2013 and the preceding 141 days. May peace come to all victims and their families who have lost love ones to violence; I’m truly sorry for their losses.

Perpetrating Parents: They’ll Make You Crazy

There comes a point when victims leave their abusers because they have finally recognized the significant and damaging impact the emotional and physical violence has had on their children. Often when victims are asked why they stay with their abusers, they say because of the kids. But when asked why they left their abusers, ironically, they admit for the same reason—because of the kids. Abusers controlled their families during the relationship but after the victims have fled with their kids, the batterers must find ways to forces the victims to return. This is when abusers exploit, recruit or threaten some type of harm toward the kids. The abusers’ escalating deviant behaviors becomes so outrageous that the average person cannot imagine the hell these victims face. Victims try to report the atrocities but they are minimized, ignored and even told they are crazy. The persistent negative reinforcement by society creates confusion for the victims and they start to believe that they are the problem.

In this series I will share stories of outrageous violent behavior in hopes that knowledge of perpetrator behavior may assist families trying to escape the madness. The first case involves an abusive mother who wanted her ex-husband to pay for “abandoning” her. She started threatening her children and telling them that their father would stop loving them like he stopped loving her. She didn’t like that her children were close to their stepmother so she inflicted high levels of guilt on them saying she carried them in her womb for 9-months, that she was their mother and that the kids owed her. She accused them of caring more about having fun than being loyal. After months and months of emotionally beating her children up, they decided it would be best to live with her so maybe she would stop being so angry and vengeful. She recruited her children to lie and make excuses for not wanting to visit their dad. She threatened to expose them for saying bad things about their stepmother stating that their father would hate them. Their fear of being completely abandoned by their dad dissuaded them from engaging with him and his new wife. The children were forced to suffer in silence.

She wanted to punish her victim financially, so she refused to let the kids see him and she was able to demonstrate to the court that she had them more overnights than he did. Not only did his lawyer (and hers) rewarded her for being a bully, but worse, they claimed that he was being irresponsible as a father and that his children needed to stand up to their mother and stop being sissies if they didn't like their situation. The system disregarded her accountability and left the victims feeling helpless and alone. The victim reported that this abuser stalked, harassed and emotionally abused those around her but they ignored his pleas. 

Moving from Survivor to Thriver

I was given the most amazing honor to publish this letter from a woman who has moved beyond violence and is learning to live again. She identified herself as a survivor, but after more careful examination I would elevate her to a “thriver” as her words show just how strong her constitution is and, in my humble opinion, she is on her way to greatness. To thrive means to grow vigorously and healthily and to be successful. This compelling letter touched me and is truly representative of those who no longer want to identify with being victims. At the end of her message I will add a commentary to assist others who desire to move beyond their past.

Survivor – one who lives through affliction?
Survivor – one who survives in spite of adversity

To survive is to – remain alive or in existence. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; and to persevere; to live and persist; to cope with trauma and remain alive in existence; to continue to function and withstand.

I, Andrea, am a survivor. I have the ability to withstand the abuse.

I withstood your abuse. I withstood your abuse even after fleeing from you physically.

I conquered (to gain mastery over or win by overcoming obstacles or opposition, to overcome by mental or moral power) my fear – YOU. I prevailed over your abuse.

I reached the top of the mountain and overcame the rough rocky journey. I prevailed through all the cuts, bruises, falling down, and sexual, physical and mental pain.

I prevailed over years of abuse and continued abuse through the courts, your words and actions.

I have strength (the quality or state of being strong – capacity for exertion or endurance).

I have a strong attribute – the ability to withstand. I have the capacity to endure much. I resisted attack – beat down after beat down – I resisted the death!! I resisted the death of my soul and spirit. I resisted the death of myself – only to live again but now with much more faith and love and beauty and strength.

I have great physical strength – I have great physical power to endure beat down after beat down – kick after kick, slap after slap, bruise after bruise, batter after batter – I am still standing – all physically in one piece I had the physical power to endure all that and more and not strike back.

I am tenacious – I have showed the power to resist and endure stress, pain and mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, sexual and physical abuse.

I have a strong determination of spirit to make a better life for my kids than living in fear and walking on egg shells, being controlled by guilt and fear. Being told I never did anything right; to have or feel any kind of love was conditional on whether I was doing things HIS way and HIS way only. I have the strong determination of spirit for my kids to be happy and healthy. To be loved unconditionally and to feel secure in whom they are and what they do. To feel secure enough to speak their mind and have their own feelings and not live each minute because of guilt or fear. I have the strong determination of spirit to stop the cycle of domestic violence and addiction. I have set a higher standard of self-worth for my children and to strive for and know the best.

I am resilient to all the attacks and beat downs you may aim at me and have aimed at me. I am a strong, resilient, intelligent, capable, loving, lovable, outgoing, fearless-of-you woman. I can and have endured many nightmares, many blows to my head, heart and spirit! But look at me – I am still standing strong and even stronger than before. My kids are beautiful, my life is beautiful and the joy radiates from their hearts because I, Andrea, AM A SURVIVOR. This is what I have given myself and my kids: the tenacity to endure when the mountain gets too steep and keep on climbing because after all the hard work, sweat, heartache and tears – I have overcome, I have reached to top of the mountain and the air is clean, the sun is shining ever so beautiful and I am FREE – I AM FREE. My heart is open and I can breath – I can feel and I can smile – I am FREE I am FREE. I have endured! I have with stood and I have overcome….I am a strong survivor.

Andrea, your words strongly resonated with me and I’m sure they will with others who have traveled on similar paths. The picture you paint demonstrates the journey you have taken. As I felt your words, I could visualize the peak of the mountain and could see you taking another trail down on the other side. Taking this new route makes it possible for you to recognize new unfamiliar beauty that has not been seen before. Each scenic view is exciting and fresh but most importantly the breathtaking views have no reminders of your past. Thrivers truly have moved forward when they stop letting abusers rent space in their heads. Thrivers really have left the relationship—not just physically but emotionally as well. They no longer replay the horrific snippets of their history but rather they chose to move forward and strong. Thrivers hit the delete button and only allow positive thoughts to consume them. They have stopped asking why they were abused because there is no why. Andrea, you have survived and I believe you are also thriving on many days. An old Chinese proverb suggests that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. You are well on your way. Thank you for your strength and inspiration!

Jodi Arias Trial Part IV: Questions for the Expert

Continuation of Jodi Arias Trial Part III: Questions for the Expert

Jodi Arias Trial – Questions for the Expert

Isn't it true that isolation is the primary root to domestic terrorism that forces victims into murder? Victimization occurs through indoctrination, which requires isolation. In order to control a victim's mind, no other input can be available so that the perpetrators can promote their propaganda. In this case, it doesn’t appear that any lifelines had been severed. Ms Arias had complete freedom to come and go as she wished as was evident by her trips between California and Arizona. Without isolation, it is highly improbable for her to have become a victim of this type of terrorism. Nor is it possible that any gaslighting was going on here. In the final analysis, victims who murder do so because they are cornered and have no other way out.

Isn't it true that victims leave and go back to their perpetrator several times over the course of the relationship? Isn't it possible that a victim might call or go on vacation with their perpetrator during one of those times, even if the victim was fearful? Yes and yes! Victims leave an abusive relationship an average of seven times before they terminate completely. Many times victims go back because they are promised that things will change; at first perpetrators may demonstrate good behavior and infuse the rekindled relationship with positive experiences such as good sex and wonderful vacations in an effort to make the relationship better. The victims will then rationalize that this time it will be different. They think that maybe the couple just needs to get away from the stress in their lives. But the good feelings are temporary and the abuse resumes, often with a new heightened level of escalation. Sadly, during post-relationship treatment, victims often report that they cannot believe how stupid they were. As discussed earlier, victims take full responsibility for the abuse instead of blaming the perpetrators for their actions. Notably, Jodi Arias has never taken responsibility for her alleged abuse.

How would you describe expert witness bias? A therapist is never supposed to say that a client feels this way or that way. They are supposed to make assessments using verbiage such as, “The client appeared to be fearful as was evidenced by…” Nobody can determine what another person feels or thinks and a therapist is supposed to back everything up with concrete behavioral responses that might support that feeling. Because other people were not thoroughly questioned to challenge the reports of abuse, the DV expert's opinion is inappropriate. It is unethical for an expert witness who is assessing guilt or innocence to act as a defendants’ therapist. Giving books and magazines to assist accused so they can formulate a story to excuse murder is a gross miscarriage of justice. When someone fulfilling an expert witness role provides therapy to the clients it is referred to as a dual relationship and, in Colorado anyway, the expert/therapist would be grieved and sanctioned by the regulatory agency for misconduct. Giving how-to manuals to murder suspects is like giving a bomb making kit with instructions to a terrorist. Knowledge is power and in this case, textbook examples are being used to defame, discredit and dehumanize the murder victim. Finally, in my opinion, it is a moral and ethical obligation of any professional to adequately prepare for the job they are being paid to do. By not reviewing all available sources and questioning eyewitnesses to case issues, the expert appears to have turned a blind-eye toward the defendant and placed the finger of blame squarely on the murder victim.

Jodi Arias Trial Part III: Questions for the Expert

Prosecutor Juan Martinez challenged the domestic violence (DV) expert witness in the Jodi Arias trial this week and, in my opinion, was able to blow many holes into her theories. After listening to the cross examination, it seems to me there were a few more questions that could have been asked to finish off the discrediting Mr. Martinez had already started. I will address profiling components regarding some victim and perpetrator behaviors that were not mentioned in an effort to cast a reasonable doubt about who the real victim was in this case.

Can a person have a fight AND flight response during the same episode? The DV expert testified that immediately prior to the murder, Ms. Arias had a Fight or Flight response. Jodi Arias' testimony indicated that she initially ran, stopped to retrieve the gun, then shot Travis Alexander. According to her version, after the gun failed to stop Mr. Alexander, she again fled and retrieved a knife and stabbed him to death. This run, shoot, run, stab, slash sequence is impossible as determined by the fight or flight response. The Fight or Flight response occurs when a stressful event invokes fear and the reptilian brain forces us to make a split-second decision as to whether we are capable of fighting off an assailant—or we can’t. In this response, stress hormones then flood our extremities and permit us to fight to the death or run like hell. If a person’s reptilian brain determined that the best course of action were to run, then a Forrest Gump-style sprint would have ensued and the runner could have gained an amazing head start back to Yreka before the other person was able to put his britches on. However, the brain – particularly the reptilian brain – is not physically designed to tell us to run, then stop, do an about face to go back and fight. The decision is EITHER to Fight OR Flight, not to Flight AND Fight.

Are DV victims really silent about their abuse? This expert claimed at one point that victims try to change their perpetrators’ behavior. This is absolutely false. Victims are groomed from the very beginning to believe that they are the problem and the consequence for them is that are berated, put down, chastised, humiliated and beaten into submission. Victims desperately look for ways to change their own behavior because their perpetrators tell them that it’s the victims’ fault they were abused. The true dynamic is that abusers want victims to change—not the other way around. Victims only want to appease their perpetrators in order to stop the abuse. So victims often reach out for answers—to “fix” their own inadequacies and modify their behaviors so they can end the abuse. Victims are groomed to believe they caused the violence and, as a result, victims assume ownership of the abuse. Perpetrators are pessimists and their negative opinions keep their victims from placating them. The victims simply can't successfully stem the tide of abuse because the perpetrators are not looking for resolutions—they are looking for blame. No matter what victims do, perpetrators twist and distort reality, leaving victims defeated and helpless. This is commonly referred to as “Gaslighting” and it is a high-level form of manipulation because perpetrators can lie far better than their victims can tell the truth. Victims will discuss their abuse, but not by complaining about the perpetrator; rather by explaining and minimizing their partner's culpability or seeking a way fix themselves. Silence doesn't become the rule for victims until their support system starts telling them they are being mistreated and that it isn’t their fault. Victims then defend their perpetrators say things like others don’t understand what their partners have been through.

Would a victim try to protect a perpetrator's reputation, even after they commited murder? Here’s a glaring problem I see with the Jodi Arias as DV victim scenario: the murder victim’s body was seemingly posed in the shower naked with legs spread for the entire world to see. His reputation was then smeared by accusations of pedophilia and wanting his playmate to wear braids and dress up in Spiderman underwear. Every behavior – and I mean every behavior – is motivated by an intention. Real victims of domestic violence genuinely love their partners, even if the world doesn’t understand why. Before victims resort to lethality they have doubt, reservation, hesitation and remorse. Therefore, even in death, victims will protect their abusers. A real victim would have covered their perpetrator's body to protect his/her reputation. Given Travis Alexander's reputation in his community, exposing him as Ms Arias did was the ultimate humiliation...a classic treatment of a perpetrators towards their victims.