|Hero John Peters|
Context can prove critical to the analyst.
It is always necessary for an analyst to know an allegation being answered by a statement.
Here, context is key. A British airman John Peters was shot down in the Gulf War, 1991. Regarding his treatment he said the following (in italics) shortly after being released:
"And they hit you. They hit you with baseball bats, rubber instruments. They smash your face against the wall. And it goes on and on . It doesn't stop. It just never stops."
Is he lying?
Notice the distancing language of "you"; it is not that they beat "me"; but "you."
The subject also uses the unreliable present tense verbs.
These are two indications that he is not committed to the statement.
Is he lying?
More than 20 years later, he spoke of the ordeal and described similar events with the use of the pronoun, "me" and past tense verbs.
For the trauma he suffered, the event(s) were ongoing. The trauma was so severe that at the time of his statement, in his verbalized reality, he was still suffering.
He did not lie.
The reduced commitment is clearly related to the trauma. This is why we sometimes hear present tense language in victims of violence, including domestic violence, and from sufferers of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
This is where the skill of the analyst comes in and asks:
Why the distancing language? Is it expected here?
Why the present tense verbs?
With severe violence, we do not always here distancing language or present tense verbs, but we should remain open about it, especially where actual violent action was personally perpetrated, in an up close manner, against the victim.
20 years later: