Expert Witness in Court Role Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Armstrong was unable to retreat to the safety of her environment to rebuild her mental strength and defenses and to begin to feel safe. Her environment became fearful, because she would wait there for Mr. Payne to return, and when he did, as she had feared, he began violently physically abusing her. Her level of fear and anxiety would have been high at the time Mr. Payne arrived home, having been exacerbated by the waiting in the environment. Her fear for her safety in the future had come to the moment of the future, in that Mr. Payne arrived home.

The battered syndrome Ms. Armstrong experienced was in no small part exacerbated by her inability to sleep. She scored two on a scale of four for sleep disturbances, and, as do those people who are in the battlefield experience, her sleep was at a superficial level, which is a level not at ease, but rest, yet alert. Her body had no time to restore itself through deep and relaxed sleep, which left her mentally exhausted. This is consistent with the stress experienced by individuals with PTSD. Keep in mind, too, that Ms. Armstrong was battered daily, threatened daily, and that her environment afforded her no refuge from fear of the next battering.

Ms. Armstrong scored a two on a four scale level in concentration. In no small part due to her mental exhaustion, Ms. Armstrong found she was unable to concentrate on everyday matters, and she noted her memory was not good. She found it difficult to do the routine work in her life; housekeeping, laundry, cooking, and such things, and certainly employment would have been a problem, if not impossible.

I observed that Ms. Armstrong manifested recognizable symptoms and signs of depression; a sense of hopelessness, sadness, helplessness, and dependency, which would have contributed to her overall inability to resolve her situation and to escape Mr. Payne's abusing her. In this area, Ms. Armstrong scored a three on a scale of four. This demonstrates that she was indeed at her emotional weakest, and unable to make choices for herself wherein she might have looked to the long-term consequences of her actions. Her reaction came out of these signs of depression, and fear for her physical well being. Her action was a response to a precipitating factor -- the violence being dealt her by Mr. Payne; not a plan of action that she had formulated in her mind. In fact, her concentration and memory were impaired such that she could not have sufficiently thought through such a plan, and then carried it out, because her memory was impacted too. She lacked the mental capacity to have acted on a plan of action. All that she had that moment in time were responses to the precipitators that evoked her responses.

For instance, if I take a ball and toss the ball in your direction, your response is to try to catch the ball. Even if the ball is hard and you are not wearing a ball glove, you would reach up and respond by attempting to catch the ball -- without consideration of the pain that you might experience by catching the hard ball in your bare hand. It is a response, not a thought through plan of action, because the precipitator was unexpected, and you reacted in the moment. Ms. Armstrong's diminished mental capacity left her unable to reason, or to formulate a plan, but reacted to precipitator in the moment.

Ms. Armstrong experienced fatigue, and real functional disturbances of her senses. These sensory disturbances manifested with tinnitus, blurring of vision, hot and cold flashes, and prickling sensations. All of these are in no small part due to the lack of sleep and in overall physical and mental exhaustion. In her heightened state of anxiousness and fear, her nerve endings showed signs of stress, and this is the tingling and prickling sensations she experienced. People often describe this as raw nerves, fried nerves, because it is equated with the electrical impulses that the nerves receive from the brain. When physical exhaustion is the case, then the impulses are not being received as strongly as when a person is physically and mentally healthy.

Ms. Armstrong does not report tachycardia, palpitations, oppression, chest pain, throbbing in the blood vessels, or feelings of faintness. While most of us consider the absence of these signs good for Ms. Armstrong it was a dual edged sword. Her heightened state of anxiety would have prevented her from experiencing these senses, because a heightened state, though physically unsustainable, does not manifest these conditions. The individual's body is moving in a fast forward mental and physical condition, and it is when this ceases, that an individual is most likely to go from that heightened, high emotional and physical state of functioning, to a slowed, now, abnormal state, and then to begin to experience these other manifestations that would alert them as to the physical damage done to their bodies.

Throughout the interview, Ms. Armstrong remained moderately nervous. Her total score on her Hamilton test battery was 24 on a scale of 30, indicating that her level of anxiety was mild to moderate; although by the time she took the test she had, again, achieved a level of improved security as to her physical well being, although impacted by these current legal proceedings. She has had that respite from Mr. Payne that has allowed to rebuild her physical and mental resources, to be able to cope at a less agitated state. Because Ms. Armstrong is a battered woman, and suffers from PTSD, it is also realistic to conclude that she is in many ways at the time of the test minimizing her levels of tension, stress, and anxiety. Her own sense of helplessness and sadness would contribute to her sense of low self-esteem and self-worth, and she would rationalize that she is not worthy of the attention that might be given her if she expresses concern for herself. This is manifested by Ms. Armstrong's score of 3 on a scale of four for feelings of guilt; her present illness is a punishment, and she suffers delusions of guilt about her own role in her predicament of abuse.

Ms. Armstrong suffers suicidal ideations, without a plan to actually commit the act. She feels life is not worth living. This arises out of her inability to create a safe and better environment for herself. While she would not commit suicide at this time, the abuse she has suffered and the continuing violence being meted out against at the hands of Mr. Payne could bring death, and this would resolve her need to face life. This is certainly a contributing factor as to why Ms. Armstrong does not act in a proactive way to eradicate herself from the abuse syndrome she is in.

The areas of life from which Ms. Armstrong could ostensibly gain emotional and physical strength, have lost interest to her. She has no hobbies, or work that could contribute to gaining a sense of elevated self-esteem through accomplishment. She shares this with Mr. Payne, who does not have these outlets either, but they manifest their self-esteem in ways that are very much gender related; Mr. Payne gains strength and demonstrates strength and power by physically and mentally abusing Ms. Armstrong. Ms. Armstrong subordinates herself to the power of Mr. Payne, and this is her role, as the weaker partner in the relationship, and she is actually Mr. Payne's source of power and strength.

Domestic violence is not about love, and it is not about wrong doing. Domestic violence is a crime, but it is one that people generally assign levels of guilt by association to. Often economic circumstances, and a deep sense of commitment to the relationship keep women in these abusive relationship. Children are often a factor in these kinds of relationships. Once there is a bond created between a couple, through the child, it becomes increasingly difficult to break away from the relationship.

Domestic violence are a series violent acts and incidences from which the abuser gains a sense of power and strength that he (usually 'he') is not able to achieve from other areas of his life. The violent nature of the relationship suggests that Mr. Payne could have at some point in time killed Ms. Armstrong; however, it would be a loss to him in that he derives his power and strength through abusing her. Abusers may eventually kill their victims, and this happens often, but it would be over a long period of time, and, just as when Ms. Armstrong acted in response to the fear and anxiety she had suffered, further exacerbated by her depleted state of physical weakness and mental exhaustion, she reacted to Mr. Payne in a way that was inconsistent with the way in which she had dealt with it previously. In other words, her body, through her response to Mr. Payne, took over where her…

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