Sunday, February 2, 2014

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Statement Analysis

  "Childhood Sexual Abuse and Statement Analysis"
           by Peter Hyatt 

C.K. Dexter-Haven and pet 


Most readers are well familiar with the linguistic indications of sexual abuse, which mirror those well known to school teachers and social workers in the physical realm.

A happy, playful little boy, often called 'a noise with dirt' lovingly, who's teacher has to remind him repeatedly to wash his hands after using the restroom, suddenly not only washes his hands, but also continually interrupts class to return to the bathroom to wash his hands.

A quiet young girl arrived in class with a brown bad, emitting a terrible odor.  Upon checking the bag, her teacher discovered that she brought in her own feces.

Children wet their beds.

It happens.

Most children will grow out of it.

Many victims of sexual abuse often are delayed in outgrowing the problem.

Any young girl can get a urinary tract infection.  If it is repeated, a doctor will seek to learn why.

Repeated urinary tract infections and chronic bed wetting, for example, can happen to anyone, but they also may signal sexual abuse.

Some victims of childhood sexual abuse are delayed in speech, or are inordinately quiet in class, especially females.

Many victims develop self - loathing, that is, self hatred.  Boys and girls often act out differently.  Boys target others, while girls often target their own selves with the inner rage.

Childhood sexual abuse destroys lives and is immeasurably painful to the victim and each person involved with the victim.

Many of the above signs, alone, may be without meaning, but when present, to explore for childhood sexual abuse is important.

I have interviewed thousands of children and parents.  In all child interviews, including those without sexual abuse allegations, the topic of sexual abuse was explored.  Open ended questions were asked and careful listening, through the principles of Statement Analysis, allowed me to intervene on behalf of children, and in a small number of cases, on behalf of falsely accused fathers, who's ex's had taught the child how to parrot language.

Statement Analysis gets to the truth.  The "thousands" number above is true.  The sheer volume and time pressure did not always produce excellence in interviewing, as shortcuts were often the norm, but learning human nature, and seeing how incredibly accurate the work of Avionoam Sapir proved to be, taught me much.

I like Pat Brown, criminal profiler and author.  She is not law enforcement, which in the minds of many, is a positive, though in law enforcement itself, 'group think' or 'peer status' may lend itself to dismiss her because she "doesn't understand because she doesn't carry a gun."  This is ignorance, yes, but it is ignorance in a place that leads citizens in need of excellence in investigations to frustration and sometimes the payment of a private investigator.  'Group think' encircles itself and it is a minority of leadership in law enforcement (like in many sectors, including state government) who reach out beyond the peer, and grow marvelously for it.  Some simply want to get to the truth and will utilize any means, while others are more interested in protecting their own, even at the expense of solving a crime.  This is where confidence in law enforcement wanes.

Pat's funny, and she is sharp, but a "criminal profiler?"

Yep.

Read her books, especially where she privileges the reader into how she learned to profile, and how experience, over and over, forced her to think.  When was the last time you heard her give a vague "middle aged white male living in his aunt's basement" type of profile?  She doesn't raid the inventory of standard, but instead takes a larger view, stepping back, and has fantastic intuition.

"Hurricane Carter."

I love Bob Dylan and loved the song, "Hurricane."

Sometime after the song came out, so did the transcripts of the trial and a lot of information.  Interesting that in almost 40 straight years of touring, Dylan's never played that song again.

Pat did an article on the movie starring Denzel Washington and picked through the lies like a skilled polygrapher, one after the other, and knew what the depravity of man looked like.  She likely made a few Calvinsts blush, yet she knew the movie was false and that Rubin Carter was not only a murderous thug, but one who enjoyed his life of rape and violence.

Working in a hospital, thinking on her feet, and volume all played a part in her development.  All this, and whether you agree with her or not, or like her or not, she is never boring in her interviews.

She is intuitively good at 'reading' someone; which is what "Content Analysis" does.

Kaaryn Gough so literally enters a statement that her analysis can feel like she's more than a fly on the wall:  she's the author!

I once posted a short statement on "911 Calls and Statement Analysis" in which a bullying, small town, smaller minded cop, threatened me.  I did not include these details.

One of our long term readers so amazingly analyzed my short post that she knew of the dispute, accusation and threat, precisely as it happened.  I care not if she is law enforcement or not, she should be doing this work, either for law enforcement, or for journalism pursuits, or to help families, or...
whatever she feels she could be best used to help society.  She is the rare natural, and reminds me of the brilliance of Kaaryn.

Statement Analysis opens up information and "reads" people.  This is not new.  The ancient Biblical text says "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh..." which tells us that the "heart" being the seat of the intellect and the affections (what we know, and how we feel about what we know) is known, itself, by words.

As Avinoam Sapir says, "Oh, but don't worry about giving away all your personal information; no one is listening!"

It is true that few people listen.

We see this in journalism where the headlines say, "So and So denies such and such" only to read all the quotes and see no denial issued.

Few are listening.

Statement Analysis not only helps get to the truth, but it can, here, help those who have been sexually abused in childhood, and now, as an adult, may be suffering.

Of those I have known, personally, suffering in adulthood, the public would be shocked if they knew.

RA Dickey, major league star pitcher, wrote a book about his experiences.  Though some minimization took place, Statement Analysis showed veracity about his experiences (he minimized some of the impact in later life, specifically how it impacted his marriage), and is a heart warming and inspirational book to read.


RA's book speaks of the journey and how poorly adjusted he was in life, all due to the exploitation of a baby sitter. It's a book that was hard to put down.  It took courage to write the book.  At the time of the writing, he did not need the money (he's very wealthy, though its interesting to read about the years when his wife and children did not have much), so the motive of money is tossed out.  As to who actually wrote it, in subsequent interviews,

In Statement Analysis, we look for signals of veracity.

Although not part of the SCAN technique, we look for sensory description in language.  For example, when I smell chlorine, it can instantly transform me to being 7 years old, and swimming at the Mineola Community Swimming pool.

We also recognize what the school teachers know about water.  There is a correlation between water and sexual abuse.

For the teacher, the little boy who kept washing his hands, showed a need to "wash" his guilt away.

Children who are sexually abused carry guilt.

It is a false guilt, but its destructive power is intense.  If the child experienced physical pleasure during the molestation, the guilt is not only false guilt, but it is complex, lying false guilt, and is many times the worse.

So it is in language, the signals seen physically by the teacher are seen linguistically by the Statement analyst.

In an investigation into missing money, I asked the female subject to tell me what she did the day of the theft, from the time she woke up until the time she went to bed.

"I got up at 6 when my alarm went off.  I brushed my teeth, got dressed and drove to work.  I got to work about..." her statement began. 

In analysis we have a principle:  Unnecessary information is to be deemed doubly important.

Look at her statement again:

"I got up at 6 when my alarm went off.  I brushed my teeth, got dressed and drove to work.  I got to work about..."

This short statement tells us a great deal.  You may wish to learn why she needed an alarm to help her get up (which caused me to ask questions about the night before), but what stood out was this:

"I brushed my teeth."

This is unnecessary since we all brush our teeth (well, at least I hope so) and less than 10% of people feel the need to include this in a statement.

It is a signal that information of a personal nature is being concealed.

It may be that it is that she is involved in a domestically violent relationship.

By listening to her, I knew that "brushing teeth" was important to her.  It was in her heart.  It was on her mind.

Why would "brushing teeth" indicate domestic violence?

A woman in a domestically violent relationship is under the control of the threat of violence.  She lives life under someone else's control.  She 'walks on eggshells'; always fearful of saying the wrong thing, looking the wrong way, giving the wrong signal, and suffers from the terrible feeling of being out of control.

For this victim, brushing her teeth, like any personal hygiene, is important enough to her to mention to an investigator because those few moments, when the door to the bathroom is locked, she feels "in control" and feels safe.

"I drove down 95 and had to stop and use the bathroom.  I did, and I washed my hands, and then I drove for another two hours..." said a suspect in a rape case.  The washing of his hands, something unnecessary for him to say, was important to him and actually fit the time line of when the rape took place.

References to "water" are important in sexual assault cases.  Notice this from Amanda Knox:

"...However, I admit that this period of time is rather strange because I am not quite sure. I smoked marijuana with him and I might even have fallen asleep. These things I am not sure about and I know they are important to the case and to help myself, but in reality, I don't think I did much. One thing I do remember is that I took a shower with Raffaele and this might explain how we passed the time.



In truth, I do not remember exactly what day it was, but I do remember that we had a shower and we washed ourselves for a long time. He cleaned my ears, he dried and combed my hair."

Misty Croslin lied about what happened to 5 year old Haleigh Cummings.  Her 911 call showed her priority to build an alibi for herself, and not report a child "missing."



911: “you can’t find what?”

Misty Croslin:”our daughter”

Misty revisits the plural language of step parenting, or a prepared or coached call.

911:” OK, what’s your address?

Misty Croslin: “(inaudible)”

911: “OK, what’s the numerical?”

Misty Croslin: “The numerical…what’s that?”

911: “the number…green lane?”

Misty Croslin: “Yes”

911: “OK when did you last see her?”

Misty Croslin: “Um, we like just, you know…it was about 10 o’clock- she was sleeping- I was cleaning…

Later, Misty, who is now in prison on drug trafficking charges, talked about washing the bed sheets.  She gives verbal indication that Haleigh was sexually abused, and was carried out, either dead or unconscious, wrapped in a blanket or sheet.

There are many other indicators of sexual activity in a statement and we are able to discern truth from deception from the words.

But what does this have to do with victims today?

Victims of childhood sexual abuse may have had natural brain development interfered with.  Small, common aspects, taken for granted in life, may be missed.  For example, if a child is sexually abused at a very young age, the child may not know what "boundaries" look like.  The part of the brain that learns boundaries and privacy is under or non-developed.  The little child runs through the house naked, without shame.  Yet, in a short time, she will learn that she would rather go to the bathroom with the door closed.  This is natural.  Victims sometimes do not understand this.  They are taught, heavily imprinted in the brain, that their bodies belong to others, and they do not have the right to say "no" or refuse.  They may even believe that pain is necessary because they do not have the "right" to say "no."

This is where promiscuity comes into play, often at a young age.

Many victims pull through, and survive the adolescence years of promiscuity and substance abuse (self punishment), though not all do.  Many who do find that they were able to recover themselves and by their 30th birthday, may even be a successful professional.

Yet, the clocking ticking against them is never silenced.

By her mid to late thirties, on to their forties, these same high functioning women suddenly find themselves with depression and/or anxiety, with no obvious cause. They may, at this time, become obsessed with exercise and become almost addicted to the treadmill.  This increases hormonal levels which alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety, but as the natural strength of youthful hormone levels recedes, the cracks in the foundation appear and she may seek help from her physician.

If she is referred to a therapist, it is a roll of the dice to find a skilled one.  Skilled therapists are often very expensive.  This skilled listener may then find signals, verbal and evidentiary, that the subject (client) was sexually abused in childhood.

If so, the work begins to alleviate this pressure on the brain, from the horrific early imprints.

The therapist is seeking to help the victim remember and confront this memory, in order to process it.

Those who "froze" in fear suffered the most.  Those children who fought and resisted, often had less impact of the abuse.

All of this is far too much for this short article.  On to the help:

Besides seeking the assistance of your medical doctor and mental health professionals, there is something you can do on your own which has been shown, repeatedly, to be of great value in alleviating your suffering.

The first thing to do is to begin exercising.

Walking is natural and provides great health benefits also far beyond the scope of this article.  Get yourself a walking partner, even if it is the canine variety seen above.

Walk. 

Once you get past about 20 minutes of the walk, each extra minute becomes golden.  It will impact your physical and mental health in wonderful ways.  You and I were created to walk and to communicate, so begin a walking program.  If your weather is such that makes walking difficult in winter, get yourself a treadmill or join a gym.  Treadmills can be reasonable, especially for non-motorized ones that operate under your own leg strength.  Although you may choose swimming or cycling over walking, this is more due to personal preference.  The notion of getting your body in motion is critical if you wish to deal with childhood sexual abuse.  We were not made to be stationery and depression lends itself to couches more than movement.

Write

Studies have shown that writing in a very specific way can help alleviate the pressure the brain has experienced, not only in the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, but in all traumas.  A very specific formula appears best:

You are to write three things.

Get yourself a journal.

Begin with the first part by writing what you remember.  Do not include any emotional factors; just the details of what you recall.  By doing so, you may find that your memory picks up certain things and recall improves, especially since you are now exercising.

Part One of your trauma writing is to write out everything you can recall.  Start with what you can recall in the trauma, and then move on, with as much detail as you can, of your life.  This is not a day's work.  You will need to write about what important things you remember in the First Grade, for example, and when you were 10 years old, 13 years old, and so on.  Just the facts.

Next, part two.

Researchers have found that journaling out trauma can be very beneficial to overcoming the impact of trauma.  Here is the key:

In Part Two of your writing, you will focus upon what emotions you have experienced, both what you recall from the past, and what you experienced in growing years, and so on, how you felt when you turned 13 years old, and so on.  Part two is a recount of part one, but with the addition of the emotions you experienced.

Your life is a life worth living, and therefore a life who's story is worthy of telling and analyzing.

Part Three is Statement Analysis.  This goes beyond the scope of what most recommend (two parts) and is added for those here, who seek even deeper insight.

You can do self analysis by simply following the principles you have learned here, and when you apply them to your own journal, you will be confronted with missing information, minimization and so on, and able to challenge yourself:

Why did I skip this time period?

This may help you remember.

Why did I use passive language here?

This may help you put responsibility of your abuse where it belongs:  on the abuser, and the possible abdicator or neglector, who left you vulnerable.

I have yet to meet anyone or read of anyone who has not helped greatly by this method of journaling, even though they do not know Statement Analysis.  Simply writing out what was experienced first, and then what the reactions and emotions were next, helped victims marvelously.  

How this method was discovered is in some form of debate.  Some reference a wealthy author, from the 1930's, who experienced the trauma of having his wife cheat on him.  Reportedly, he went to his cabin in New England to commit suicide, and started a "good bye" letter to his grown children.

As he wrote, although acutely depressed, he found the strength to explain himself, and in doing so, over several days time, he found that his appetite slowly returned, and the pressure he felt on the brain began to lift.

He did not commit suicide.

There are a number of good books you can purchase via Amazon that are, in one form or another, a display of the two step writing format.  Self analysis is, in my opinion, a wonderful bonus for those who have embraced its principles and wish to dig deeper into their own thinking.  Yes, it takes higher emotional intelligence, and stronger self awareness and self honesty, but the results are even more rewarding.

In a recommended book list, I find some ethical struggles as most seem to include not just the two step writing format, but struggle to refrain from moralizing on the trauma events, which I find to be a useless tangent. Yet the books do show strong evidence that journaling trauma indeed assists in healing.

I strongly recommend journaling for anyone who's suffering from the ill effects of trauma. Childhood sexual trauma can be a most debilitating life long event that warrants intervention.

Exercise and Journaling.

It is a one-two punch against the damage of trauma.

Whether it is the childhood sexual abuse, or the trauma of having lost a loved one, divorce, or other life changing events, exercise and journaling works.

You can get better.  You can feel better about yourself, and your life.  Your life is worth living, worth analyzing and worth sharing.

Please do so.  

9 comments:

Trigger said...

Great post, Peter

I still have trouble "listening" but I am still trying to learn to listen with more careful analysis.

I often test my skills that I learned here on TV shows like dateline and 48 hours. I can now see and hear the words of a liar and pick up on their skilled deception.

If they don't say it, then I can't say it for them.

I think that my favorite lie is:

"I never slept with Amy Fisher"
by Joey Buttafucco

President Clinton's lie was a kick also.

"I never had sexual relations with that woman Ms. Lewinsky"

Trigger said...


Has anyone heard Woody Allen issue a reliable denial about Mia's adopted daughter Dylan's public accusations about sexual abuse?

first person singular
past tense verb
allegation specific

As far as I know it has not happened

AB said...

I found that writing poetry helped but I'm going to try exercise and journaling. It is hard to find somebody who will listen. Feelings of muteness in adulthood are debilitating. Thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I am absolutely blown away by your blog. I have stayed up late every night for the past three nights reading it.

You've made Statement Analysis (a new concept for me) come alive and I feel like I now have an amazingly powerful new mental model/lense for thinking about the world.

I have a burning question for you. I've read your analysis of Amanda Knox's various statements, emails, etc., which are fascinating. And I find myself wanting to read your analysis of the transcript of her Diane Sawyer interview. I can't seem to find it on your blog. Did you ever do an analysis of that interview? If not, would you? It would complete your thorough analysis of her statements thus far.

I imagine that the "truth leakage" from her words in that interview might be less than in some earlier statements, because she must have prepared pretty intensively for the interview. But I still imagine that there is some interesting raw material for analysis there.

Please let me know if your analysis of that interview already exists or, if not, if you'd consider doing a blog entry on it.

Thank you for this amazing blog.

Anonymous said...

Peter, im a long time follower. You are a good man. Thank you for this wonderful blog. Reading it is a part of my daily routine. I've learned so much....about others and about myself ad well.

trishapatk said...

Peter, Can you recommend any of the books you refer to on journaling for this reason?

I realize you said there are several but a recommendation from you would be helpful in narrowing it down.

Thanks!
Patricia

Peter Hyatt said...

Patricia,

Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions
James W. Pennebaker


best wishes,

Peter

PS: He wrote the good book on pronouns...."The Secret Life..." which is consistent with Statement Analysis.

Peter Hyatt said...

Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives
Louise DeSalvo

Peter Hyatt said...

Psychological Trauma and the Adult Survivor: Theory, Therapy, and Transformation, (Brunner/Mazel Psychosocial Stress Series, No. 21)

this is trauma in general as well. Childhood sexual abuse is acute trauma.

Peter