Jodi Arias case - What I believe and why. Domestic violence -Batteredwoman syndrome.
I have been following the Jodi Arias case closely these past couple of days, for those of you who are not familiar with it, the case involves a young woman accused of brutally killing her long time on and off again boyfriend Travis Alexander back in 2008. She is currently on trial and faces the death penalty if convicted. The focus of this case has been primarily the intense dysfunctional, abusive and sexual relationship the couple had and how Mr. Alexander was so obsessed with sex as well as verbally and physically abusive toward Jodi, that eventually it led Jodi to kill him.
The defense team's main focus is to prove that Jodi was suffering from battered women syndrome, low self esteem and an array of other conditions, derived from the abuse she endured during the relationship. The prosecutions main focus is to prove that Ms. Arias was a willing participant in the sexual activities which included role playing and sexual humiliation, to name a few, also that she was manipulative, and she is using the battered woman syndrome as a way to get a lesser sentence. Prosecution also want to prove her actions in murdering Travis were premeditated. Jodi's attorney's want to convince the jury that she participated in these sexual acts and endured the abuse because not only does she have a history of abuse and neglect in the relationship with Travis, but she also has a history of abuse well before the relationship. The defense wants to convey to the jury that her need to please Travis is one of many behaviors that most women with a history of abuse display, which is why Jodi appeared as if she was a willing participant, due to the symptoms associated with the syndrome.
While I do not condone murder under any circumstance, I do however believe, from the testimony I have heard so far, that Jodi was and is suffering from many symptoms related to battered woman syndrome. I believe she felt emotionally stuck in the relationship and probably, many times, desperately wanted out, but did not get the proper help to do so in a healthy manner. Although, in the tapes presented in court she sounds like a willing participant, I believe mentally and emotionally she was not. I believe she would have said and done anything to make Travis want her and find her appealing. My opinion, of course.
Why do I believe this? For many reasons, but I will share one with you for now. I have a friend, I will call her Beth, My friend was in a similar relationship that nearly destroyed her life. While she never contemplated murdering or hurting her than boyfriend. She did however suffer immensely, consistently doing things for him sexually that she did not enjoy just to please him, she also behaved as if she enjoyed them, when she did not. I recall one particular incident when she went out looking for him in the middle of the night, when just the day before he had pushed her to the floor. Frankly, I couldn't understand her behavior, and at one point I contemplated breaking off our friendship, because I simply couldn't grasp why she kept looking for him.
Beth would do and say almost anything for the fear of losing him and to keep him happy, she would cook his favorite meals, where outfits he favored, go where he wanted, speak and sound as she thought he would like, etc. Eventually, physical and verbal abuse came into play.
As her friend I tried desperately to talk with her and convince her to leave him, sometimes she would, but only for short periods of time, she would tell me he was like a drug and no matter how much she tried to stay away she couldn't, either she went looking for him or he for her. There were times she felt like it was love, but it was clear, that it was not. This relationship brought Beth to her Knees and for the first time ever she volunteered to get hospitalized in a mental health facility.
Eventually, my friend Beth found a 12 step program called love addicts. Today she is free from this relationship and is a better person emotionally and spiritually. I am so proud of my friend, there was a time she was so consumed in that relationship that I did not know who she was. At one point I remember asking her, "who are you?" she just cried, because not even she, knew who she was anymore. Beth is back, and I am ever so proud of her. I spoke with her the other day and she sounds like the Beth I met and knew way before that horrid experience of that relationship.
Going back to the Jodi Arias case, again I do not condone the horrific acts she committed nor support them in any way. However, I do believe she was and is a victim, who unfortunately never got the right help to pshycologically heal and learn how to have healthy relationships.
Domestic violence is a two way street. Men also suffer from physical, verbal, emotional and mental abuse. Another one of my beliefs, is that the issue of abuse on men is quite often over looked and should be discussed more often, as well as there being more preventive education and help accessible for the victims.
For more information on the subjects discussed, I provided links below.