How does the use of a Divine witness impact language?
"I swear to God that..." indicates the subject has a need to call upon a Divine witness to his words. It may be that the subject is telling the truth in this point, but is not elsewhere. Habitually dishonest people will feel a need for affirmation of their words. It belies the lack of confidence one may have in his own words.
What of prayer during an assault? It is a signal of emotion. It is not that the person prayed that we analyze: it is the entrance into the language.
This was from an assault investigation:
"...and as he grabbed me I just prayed 'Lord help me' and ..."
An interview in an assault case produced this sentence. As the Interviewer listened, he was convinced of the pain he was hearing in the woman's voice. He asked me to listen to the audio and provide feedback into whether or not she was truthful.
I had said that the pain is real, and the assault is real, but she's lying about when this took place and by whom.
...and as he grabbed me I just prayed 'Lord help me' and..."
In the interview she produced sensory description which is something that can signal that it was experienced but exactly when it was experienced...years ago, or today, as the crime is being alleged, is not answered.
Perseveration can be indicated in adults with developmental disabilities as well as trauma victims.
This is where one repeats detail from an earlier assault, yet states it in the present, with a new subject accused.
It is challenging to discern.
Then there are those who are outright falsely accusing someone of an assault and when they deceive, it is impossible to do so from a vacuum, therefore they choose wording from somewhere:
a movie, book, story, or...
from an actual event from the past.
In this interview, I believed that not only was she lying about what happened now within a criminal investigation, but she was truthfully reporting what happened to her years ago.
The inclusion of her emotion tells us that this account has been processed by her, which takes time. This assault was reported to have just taken place.
Discourse Analysis: listening to an interview.
If one can picture a system of (+) and (-) as an interview 'goes by' audibly, this can help.
It is sometimes difficult to follow the formula for reliability at first, but with practice that is specifically done with audio and then transcripts, the twain do eventually meet.
As the audible goes by, each signal of reliability is given a mark on the notebook that shows a (+) and each signal of sensitivity is given a (-) and when there is a near balance of the two, such as
It is something that must be further explored because there is enough signals that memory is at play, but there are also enough signals that deception is at play, too.
People often want easy answers, but human nature is complex.
Sometimes people reliably report an assault, but will indicate selfish, illicit or exploitative motives.
The motive does not negate the reliable reporting.
Another may report reliably some facets of an assault, while being deceptive in others.
For example, one who was reliably assaulted may also reveal the use of illegal drugs during the event. This can undermine credibility, yet we seek to separate the allegation from possible attendant crimes.
...and as he grabbed me I just prayed 'Lord help me' and..."
The word "as" speaks to time and the reaction to being suddenly grabbed is hormonal---fight or flight survival.
"just" compares praying to something (or everything) else in the mind. It takes time to think of alternatives to compare prayer to.
When initially recounted, the commitment is strong:
"He grabbed me and I screamed..."
This is to report what happened. There is no equivocation and there is strong psychological presence in the pronouns.
When this has been processed via re-telling often, the emotions are added as the subject has had time to speak of it, allowing for deeper thought. Each time the account is recalled, the subject ponders further (which often produces, "why?" in assaults, which may lead to distress).
I believed the subject experienced an assault, and that her pain was real, but the assault was not current, and not from the man she has accused.
This is where someone is lying but using experiential memory to do so. It is something to specifically train for.
I said that I believed this particular allegation would lead to a failed polygraph in spite of the strong sensory description and the affect of the subject during the entire interview.
I watched the video of the interview.
In listening to the subject, I too heard the pain coming from her and the accurate description of an assault, but I did not hear her connect the assault with the accused.
I also noted "Divinity" in her statement.
"Divinity" within the interview, in various wording, when used to affirm one's words, is a red flag for deception and beneath it is a desire to persuade someone. It may also be a form of ingratiation where the subject hopes the interviewer will pity the subject, with emotion clouding judgement.
"I am a God fearing..." in a criminal investigation is to say 'we wouldn't do such a thing because of our belief...' rather than "I did not..."
It is similar to one accused of pedophilia who says "I am a happily married man..." rather than to deny the accusation.
The signal in the statement above shows that this event had been long processed in the brain and the fear of it something that was reflected in the voice.
She failed her polygraph.
It is not so much that a person uses some form of Divinity in a statement but the context of the statement, audible or written that is key.
An assault victim in counseling will have emotions within the statement as exploration of thought and reaction has taken place. This is a form of contamination that must be considered. Repeat interviews can cause it as well.
This was a police investigation of a crime that was alleged to have just taken place.
If you wish to study deception detection, please visit Hyatt Analysis Services.