Sunday, July 31, 2011

Be On the Safe Side - Think Revenge

Seemona Sumasar - Finally out of jail! (photo, CBS News)
If you are trying to extricate yourself from a bad dating or marriage situation, this story from The New York Times might sound off some internal alarms.  Imagine a business woman in a big city who meets a charming guy who says he is in law enforcement.  He insists on moving in, and won't move out.  One day he restrains and rapes her.  When she files charges and won't back down, the craziness starts.

A year later, she has spent 7 months in jail on revenge charges he invented, lost her home and business, and he is currently now in jail, claiming he is innocent and she is framing him (exactly as he framed her).  The abuse and control continues.

WNL:   People who have no personal experience with coercive control (intimate partner abuse) say "Why doesn't she stand up for herself?  Why doesn't she just leave?" Because it gets worse and not better, and control is not about divorce or breakups, it's about CONTROL.

Who needs to read a depressing story like this?  Well, if you know that something this diabolical can happen to an ordinary unsuspecting woman, you now know that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that something similar could happen to you, your sister, or a friend.  And WNL believes knowing how bad things can get is the best defense for keeping bad things from happening, and from escalating into really bad things.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You Can Tell If Someone is Lying, Right?

Now that world-famous Sofitel Hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo has given an extended interviews to Newsweek and to TV's ABC News, and everybody in the country has had plenty of practice analyzing Casey Anthony's every eyebrow movement, you can tell if someone is lying, right?  You, your friends and family, and those expert talking heads on the small screen.

Just google "tell if someone is lying" and 73 million links to articles, books, etc  pop onto your screen.  Surely a million of those must give reading microexpressions and mismatches in body language or blink rate some credibility.  Here's a typical one from Forbes Magazine if you've never explored the subject, and, unlike a lot of the lying information gurus, author Elisabeth Eaves is experienced journalist enough to put a disclaimer at the front of the article, titled "Ten Ways to Tell If Someone is Lying":

[Disclaimer:]  "Psychologists who study deception, though, are quick to warn that there is no foolproof method. Bella DePaulo, a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes that “lying is not a distinct psychological process with its own unique behavioral indicators. It does matter how liars feel and how they think.” Indeed, many of the tell-tale signs common to liars, like fidgeting and sweating, can also be signs of ordinary anxiety. It’s tough to tell the difference between a liar and an honest person who happens to be under a lot of stress."
Unfortunately, this paragraph registers with the reader the same way the "I agree" radio button impacts your brain when you are loading new software, i.e. not at all.  Yeah, yeah, but what are the 10 ways!

Time to put on the breaks with this everyman/woman as lie detector thing, IMO.  Two very capable bloggers have put the facts about lie detecting within everyone's reach, journalist Scott Henson, who writes "Grits for Breakfast", and attorney Scott Greenfield, writing "Simple Justice".  These posts which completely debunk, from inside the legal system and the law enforcement/interrogator nexus, the lie that everybody to some extent, but especially experts, can tell when someone is lying.

I recommend, for your own education, and to keep you out of disastrous personal situations where you plow ahead believing with all your heart that you have correctly assessed truthfulness and reliability, only to have the facts smack you upside the head at a later date, that you read these blog articles.  To get you started, here's a taste:
"Numerous controlled studies have shown that people are not good intuitive judges of truth and deception, typically performing at no better than chance levels of accuracy. Controlled studies have also shown that even investigators and other supposed experts who routinely evaluate deceptive behavior are highly prone to error. Moreover, Kassin and Fong have shown that police interrogators and others specifically trained in the [Behavioral Analysis Interview technique taught by John Reid and Associates] not only fail to discriminate accurately between true and false statements much of th time, but also that behavior analysis training actually lowers the ability of police interrogators to discriminate accurately between true and false denials. Further, such training inflates their confidence in their judgments. (citations omitted) [Richard Leo, Police Interrogations and American Justice pp. 98-99][bold added by WNL]
WNL:  Humility and doing the hard work of what corporate attorneys call due diligence (digging out the facts before making a deal) will serve you in personal relationships or your public duties as a juror far better than relying on your abilility, trained or untrained, to tell lies from the truth.  There is no such thing as a lie detector test no matter what you may have seen on TV (are those black boxes even plugged in?)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Video Surveillance for Victims - Looxcie LX2

Looxcie LX2 personal videocam

If you are going through something, like, say, a nasty divorce/custody thing, you've probably wished you could just videotape those hideous exchanges at the police station, or the time he stood menacingly outside the restaurant window where you were eating but didn't actually do anything you could explain to police.  That way your attorney, the children's therapist, or the minor's counsel, could actually SEE what happened rather than staring at you while you try to explain how unnerving your ex can be without actually pulling a knife.

Of course there are surveillance cameras in many public places already, and, as at the police station, there may be a video of your latest traumatic exchange, but you'll have to subpoena the PD to get it.  Have you considered being your own videographer?

How about the Looxcie over-the-ear (Bluetooth style) continuous video recorder?  While it's not perfect, like all innovations in their earlier versions, the camcorder was recently featured in Time magazine’s top 50 inventions of the year. Here's a full review from that takes you from opening the box through uploading the video onto your computer, and even includes updates as new information has become available.  Right now the latest Looxcie, the LX2, is available at for $150.00.  Don't miss Amazon reviewer "witness digital's" comments.  He seems to have been an early adopter and explains the changes in this new model.

What about legal issues?  Do you need permission?  Can you get in trouble?  Ask your attorney before you go this route (the relevant laws are almost always local).  Obviously the usual rules about playing nice are not working out or you wouldn't be thinking about doing a defensive videotape, so your situation is not the usual peeping motivation or trying to see people's PIN numbers.  While a videotape you make is likely not admissable as evidence in the courtroom, it might really help you explain your stalking/harrassment/emotional abuse situation to people you need on your team.  The link at the top of this paragraph reflects only the most general videotaping guidelines.  Every state is different.

WNL:  There are situations in everyday life, and then there are SITUATIONS that come up for people trying to get out of abusive controlling relationships that nobody else can relate to, and in these cases, a videotape can be a plus, however obtained.  The Looxcie is not invisible and that might be a good thing, both as a defense against secretly recording someone (they can see it sticking out between your eye and your ear), and as a warning.  Who doesn't modify their behavior when they know a person, or a camera, is watching.