The murder trials with convicted felon Jodi Arias and accused murderer Oscar Pistorius are being heralded as trials of the century. There is something about these trials that has us all on the edge of our seats waiting for justice to be served. The most important thing to remember during these high profile murder trials is the victims.
This is why trials are reported, this is why trials are analyzed, and this is why laws are changed after analysis when trials finally come to a resolution. Is there anything that can be learned about the Jodi Arias trial for the murder of Travis Alexander? Or the Oscar Pistorius trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp?
Both of these trials are bringing to light the issue of abuse. Both trials have presented mountains of evidence chronicling the last days of both of the victims, and those last days for both of those victims were days filled with fear, manipulation, and narcissistic behavior from their abusers. Those abusers are still displaying many of those traits and qualities.
But these trials are so confusing for many because they are the results of the least known kind of abuse. And this is why it is so important to talk about. To shed a light and expose the truth about the kind of people that can become killers if they are not stopped. These are the types of secret killers that nobody wants to talk about.
The kind of people that make boyfriends and girlfriends say to their friends and family, "If anything ever happens to me, you know who it was." Those are words that Travis Alexander was quoted as saying to his friends about Jodi Arias.
The cases of Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp are not the only 2 isolated cases in the world. The statistics of abuse are overwhelming.
The Canadian Women's Federation reports that every six days, a woman dies in Canada at the hands of her intimate partner. 67% of Canadians have reported in a survey to the Canadian Women's Federation that they know someone who is the victim of some kind of abuse. That is, 2 out of every 3 people you meet at your next cocktail party, know someone who is a victim.
The Canadian Center for Justice has reported that approximately 40,000 arrests are made annually for domestic violence in Canada, and that this number represents 12% of the total crime in Canada on any given year. They suspect this number is on the low side, considering only 1 in 5 people that are actually abused ever report it. The most common reason abuse victims do not report it is because they are terrified of being hurt or killed by their abuser.
The police also report that their approximation is that 1 in 5 Canadian women are stalked annually, while a 3 in 5 Canadian women reported to The Canadian Women's Federation that they have been stalked at least once in their lifetime.
The Department of Justice reports that approximately $7.4 billion is spent every year on domestic violence. In the State of Arizona, in the last year alone taxpayers have already spent over $2 million on the Jodi Arias trial. The $7.4 billion spent in Canada annually on abuse includes everything from legal fees, incarceration costs, to hospital visits.
Abuse is happening. In some cases, the only way to stop it is to get out, and to take the steps to stop it yourself. But that does not mean that you are alone. There is support in every city in North America that can assist you in a safe exit plan. If you wait for your abuser to free you from this prison, you may wind up like Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp.
In many cases of domestic violence where the violence is physical, those that are being hurt by someone else's hands know that they are being abused. Those women and men can see bruises on their body and call the police and have their abusers taken away in handcuffs and then be taken to safety and shelter. That is how the law is written.
But there is no law to date that is written to protect the victims of domestic violence whose hearts, souls, and self-esteem are being battered and shattered by their abusers every day.
These kinds of abusers are not your stereotypical abuser. They are not tattooed bearing and undershirt wearing drunks that slap their woman around once in a while. They are more cunning and often more educated than what many people think as the average abuser, and this is what makes them so good at their craft. They know the law. And they know how to get around it, and will spend months or years emotionally controlling and manipulating their victims as much as they can.
When those abusers lose control, or even worse, just feel like they have lost control, tragedy almost always occurs.
The statistics of emotional abuse are much more difficult to report because women and men that are the victims do not know it is happening, or still feel some form of intimacy or affection for their abuser that they don't feel it's serious enough to do anything about it. There is also fear of their abuser that stops them from doing anything about it, for fear that they will trigger their abuser into another one of their episodes. This fear is used by their abuser to manipulate and control the victim.
In many cases, and certainly in the cases of Reeva Steenkamp and Travis Alexander, the victims don't know until it is too late. As well, the law as it is written now in most states and provinces in North America requires physical evidence in order for the police and authorities to do anything from a legal standpoint.
In most states and provinces, charges can not be laid when someone hurts your feelings or makes you feel afraid, unless there is evidence of the matter. You can't even get a restraining order in some states unless you have physical evidence. Sadly, fear or terror is not often considered enough physical evidence in the eyes of the law.
For Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp, by the time there was enough evidence to charge their abusers, they were dead.
Victims of emotional abuse can not and will not be protected until there is enough physical evidence to prove abuse. They have to protect themselves, and we have to help them, because in most cases, the law won't help them. How can we accomplish this goal?
By exposing the abusers for who and what they are and taking them down. Those who control with emotions and manipulation tactics are clearly the scariest abusers of all.
The National Coalition for Men is one organization that is beginning this fight to expose abusers for who they are. In a brilliant release, they have already sought for more "closer scrutiny of violent women who abuse men in light of Travis Alexander’s murder by Jodi Aris".
View the slideshow to see the 5 creepy similarities between Jodi Arias and Oscar Pistorius that will do just that, expose abusers for what they are. Does this sound at all like you? If you are breathing and reading this, it's not too late to get help.
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Their victims felt fear, long before they died.
The text messages between both Travis Alexander and inmate Jodi Arias are shocking, as were the texts between Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius. Both victims told us a lot from the grave about where their relationship stood.
Travis Alexander did not hold back. He used words like "sociopath" and "evil". He had clearly reached the point where he knew what he was up against when it came to Jodi Arias. He also told people if anything ever happened to him, Jodi Arias was the one to send people to.
Reeva Steenkamp also spoke to us from the grave. In her chilling text messages to Oscar Pistorius just weeks before she died, she told him she was afraid of him.
Most people in loving and healthy relationships do not use words like afraid or sociopath. If someone is sending messages with those words, they are sending them to an abuser. Period. Only victims use expressions that chilling in nature. Period.
They both had undiagnosed mental health problems.
These are the kinds of people that many refer to as the "slip through the cracks" types. They spend their lives just squeaking by without many people noticing there is something really wrong with them. And the people that do notice often don't do anything about it, because the little something that is wrong with them, makes people afraid of them.
It is consistent with the Anti-Social Personality Disorder, one of the personality disorders that was defined in the DSM-IV as a Cluster B Personality Disorder on Axis II.
Other personality disorders in the Cluster B profile include Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorders. These disorders are defined a little differently in the new DSM-V, but nonetheless, they are still categorized diagnoses today.
People with disorders on the old Axis II go through life leaving people with strange impressions with people. "I can't put my finger on it, but that one's a little off." People that have never met them call them jerks, because they just behave in very strange ways that are not consistent with standard social norms.
In an article called "The Sting of Stigma" that I wrote for the Winter 2014 Issue of SZ Magazine, the only international magazine dedicated to schizophrenia, I talk about that link between mental health and violence. In that article I discuss how the mental health stigma has been created based on those slipped through the cracks types, and not on the realities of mental health diagnoses.
In other words, the most violent abusers are not the ones that have a diagnosis and are being treated, they are the ones that "slipped through the cracks". If either Jodi Arias or Oscar Pistorius had undergone extensive psychiatric testing before even meeting the lovers they killed, we may not be talking about them today, because they would have gotten help.
Now, they are both using their personality dysfunction to delay their accountability.
At the time of press, Jodi Arias has been formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and a lot of testimony has come out that many people thought of her as one of those odd types that they could never quite put their finger on. Justice for Travis Alexander has been delayed because her personality dysfunction has led to one delay after another and has already cost, and is still costing Arizona taxpayers over $2 million dollars.
At the time of press, justice for Reeva Steenkamp has been delayed as well as Oscar Pistorius undergoes a 30 day psychiatric evaluation.
They both have big egos, are known to be born performers even.
This brings us back to the Axis II Cluster B Personality Disorders, but this time it is Narcissistic Personality Disorder that these abusers also display traits from.
The Mayo Clinic defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as the following:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
One personality trait consistent with NPD is the evidence of low self-esteem. A lot of people have argued that neither Jodi Arias nor Oscar Pistorius suffers from low self-esteem, as they are both grand performers on the stand and in every-day life.
To many, they look like the most confident, successful people in the world. Or at least many people think that they want to look like the most confident, successful people in the world. The word ego is often used with convicted felon Jodi Arias and accused murderer Oscar Pistorius.
But that does not mean that they feel that great about themselves. The reason they hurt others is because they feel terrible about themselves. The worse they feel about themselves, the worse they treat others. We saw how little Jodi thinks of herself in the way she decimated Travis Alexander. She really, really hates herself.
People have a hard time accepting this because she is such an ego maniac, but the truth is that is her play, that is her show, she is desperately trying to keep it together so we don't discover the truth about how awful even she thinks she is. Expose abusers. The amount of pain they inflict is a direct reflection of the pain they are feeling inside. Their ego mania is simply a grandiose delusion coming to life in the way of performance.
For Oscar Pistorius, it was weeping and sobbing on the stand. So much so that he was even accused of attending acting classes. Yet, his own social worker said that on the day after the killing that he never even said sorry. A lot of drama when the cameras are on, when they are alone by themselves at night they are either kicking themselves for sucking at life once again [In Jodi's interrogation interview she knocked herself for not putting on makeup first] or they are coming up with their next plan and their next show for tomorrow's performance [Oscar Pistorius enters a psychiatric clinic for 30 days].
The biggest reason narcissists are such grand narcissists and grand performers is because they feel terrible about themselves. They have the lowest self esteem in the world, and they compensate for this through their grandiose delusions of ego and their grandiose displays of performance.
Does your boyfriend, husband, or lover have a grand ego but not a lot of snuff to back it up? Name dropping with people they've never met, elaborated descriptions of their meager life? This could be an abuser who is conning their way into controlling every move of your life.
They both have a flat emotion or flat affect in response to deeply disturbing events.
Lack of affect or emotion after a deeply traumatizing event is consistent with anti-social personality disorder and sociopathic behavior according to the the DSM V, Psychology Today, and the May Clinic. It is indicative of a lack of remorse, lack of accountability, and an inability to truly claim responsibility for actions taken.
That is because the anti-social personality really does not care, they have no affect or capacity to feel empathy for others. They will react inappropriately emotionally, because they know they are required to react emotionally, but they don't really know how to so they just kind of wing it as they go along. And they usually mess it up.
According to Psychology Today this personality profile is also the most likely to engage in violent acts, because they lack the remorse or empathetic outlook necessary to stop them from hurting others. Psychology Today describes the anti-social personality in detail.:
Sociopathy is chiefly characterized as a something severely wrong with one's conscience; psychopathy is characterized as a complete lack of conscience regarding others. Some professionals describe people with this constellation of symptoms as "stone cold" to the rights of others. People with this illness may seem charming, but they are likely to be irritable and aggressive as well as irresponsible. Due to their manipulative tendencies, it is difficult to separate what they say about themselves that is true from what is not.
One thing Jodi Arias has been highly criticized about is lack of remorse, and Oscar Pistorius has been accused of precisely the same thing. Jodi Arias has to date yet to hold herself personally responsible for the brutal slaying of Travis Alexander. She has referred to the murder as "the death of Travis Alexander" and offended abuse survivors all over the world with her outrageous claims that she killed him in self defense.
In the video shown here we hear a co-worker of Jodi Arias describe this flat affect as well. Whenever she was in trouble, it just never seemed to phase her. "So far deep in trouble and not blink an eye" reports the co worker of Jodi Arias. Although this affect has been anything but flat when the cameras are rolling.
Oscar Pistorius has also been accused of not saying sorry for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Does your lover shift blame every time you bring up an issue that bothers you? You are allowed to have needs in a relationship. If there is a history of lack of accountability, know this will not change, will only escalate, and get help to safely exit this experience.
Creepy text messages.
Perhaps the most chilling similarity between the victims Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp is the fact that they call out their abusers in their texts before their deaths. This is chilling, because this means that, if their abusers had been truly exposed for who they were and what they were maybe a little bit sooner, maybe Travis Alexander and Reeva Steenkamp would be alive today.
Both of them tell us in those text messages from the grave that they were very afraid of their lover. Reeva says,
"You have picked on me incessantly…I understand that you are sick but it's nasty. Yesterday wasn't nice for either of us ….I'm terribly disappointed in how the day ended and how u left me. We are living in a double standard relationship…. when u are very quick to act cold and offish when you're unhappy. …I'm so upset I left Darren's party early. SO upset. I can't get that day back. I'm scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me and how u will react to me."
That text was written by Reeva on January 26, 2013. She was dead on February 14, 2013.
Are you constantly picked on like Travis and Reeva were? Have you ever actually changed something in your life because you were afraid of how your lover would react if they found out? Does it feel like your lover never really cares if you have a problem, or worse, blames you for it? Is there something a little off with them?
All of these red flags are not just red flags in the relationships of accused murderers. These red flags are also the red flags that are consistent with the signs of abuse and domestic violence. Some of the simplest things in life and within relationships are perceived as perfectly harmless, even though what is happening is actually wrong, and love or even lust often blinds one to those red flags.
Then, the victim enables the abuser to get away with a little more, and a little more, and a little more until they are overwhelmed in a sea of red flags and don't know what to do next. Their partner keeps stretching their boundaries whenever and wherever possible and this means escalation to the point where options are few and far between.
When one feels they are left without options, violence becomes a very realistic possibility. Run do not walk from a relationship that makes you feel fear in any way. There is help.
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