Jodi Arias has had two expert witnesses testify on her behalf, Dr. Samuels and Alyce LaViolette. Though many people were less than satisfied with the testimony of Dr. Samuels, it did not cause the negative reaction that is occurring in response to the testimony of Ms. LaViolette.
Ms. LaViolette has spent her entire life working in the domestic violence field. She has written a book on domestic violence and has given many public presentations. I am sure that if you were to ask her if she were an advocate for victims of domestic violence, she would undoubtedly say yes. If you were to ask her if she had helped domestic violence victims, she would likewise say yes.
In addition, if you were to ask her if she thought that she would be seen positively in the eyes of domestic violence victims, she would again say yes. This is where she may be wrong.
There is a backlash. There is a group of domestic violence victims who are having a very negative reaction to Ms. LaViolette. The very people that one would think should be championing her efforts, actions and work (the victims of domestic violence) are instead denigrating her and her efforts.
This is not to say that all domestic violence victims are attacking Ms. LaViolette. This is not to say that Ms. LaViolette does not have her supporters. The intensely negative reaction to her testimony makes me more interested in her detractors. It would seem obvious to me that she should have supporters, after all she has been an advocate of the abused spouse. Shouldn’t all victims of domestic violence support her?
What is most interesting, is the fact that many victims of domestic violence are having a very intense, negative reaction to her. In essence they are saying that her describing and finding Jodi Arias to be a victim of domestic abuse, is incorrect and does a grave disservice to real victims of domestic violence. Their reaction is intense and visceral. It is not simply a negative critique.
Tanya Young Williams is an advocate and representative for the DV Hotline. She is the estranged wife of former NBA star Jayson Williams. She is a well-known spokeswoman for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She is an advocate for victims of domestic violence. She has appeared on many national television programs and even more national radio programs.
Remember that Ms. LaViolette, has concluded her examination and has determined that without a doubt Jodi Arias is a victim of domestic violence. Tanya Young Williams does not agree with that conclusion.
Here’s what she had to say about the possibility that Jodi Arias was a victim of domestic violence.
“…Therefore, with great contemplation and some apprehension, I voice my anger in Jodi Arias’ attempt to use the Battered Woman Syndrome as the nucleus of her strategic subterfuge…
…Still, after listening to seemingly endless hours of her testimony, I do not believe that Jodi Arias was a battered woman…
…The need for the Battered Woman Syndrome is paramount. Therefore, anytime a defendant like Jodi Arias lies about being a battered woman, the hard work of domestic violence advocates everywhere is undermined.”
It is interesting to note that Ms. Williams is espousing a commonly held theme. Jodi Arias is not a victim of domestic violence and her claim of victimization, and its use as a defense in the murder of Travis Alexander, does harm to the real issue of domestic violence. It is also interesting to point out that someone with the national presence of Tanya Young Williams and the national credibility of Ms. Williams, finds it impossible to conclude that Jodi Arias is a victim of domestic violence.
It appears that Ms. Williams is very sure that Jodi Arias is not a victim, whereas Ms. LaViolette is very sure that she is a victim.
Both cannot be right. We are not talking about shades of gray. One is right and one is wrong. Logically, Jodi Arias cannot both be and not be a victim of domestic violence. Someone is very wrong. There are many victims of domestic violence who disagree with Ms. LaViolette. In fact, they are screaming their disapproval.
Ms. LaViolette’s book is reviewed on Amazon.com. Since her appearance on the witness stand, Ms. LaViolette’s book has received over 500 reviews. Though I have not read all of the reviews, I have read the majority. The reviews are scathing. They are overwhelmingly negative and disparaging. Her books’ rating has fallen to one star, from a possible five stars. I should also note that it is impossible to rate a book lower than one star on Amazon.com.
Most interesting to me, were the reviews from female victims of domestic violence. I was impressed with how well thought out and heartfelt they were. Many were long and included the history of their personal abuse. These should be read, if for no other reason, to help the reader understand the insidious, decimating nature of domestic violence. If one were interested in the heights reached in moon exploration, it would be good to read about the experience of astronauts. If one were interested in the depths of negative human experience, it would be good to read about the lives of domestic violence victims.
I found one review by a female victim of domestic violence very compelling (an Amazon.com review) and I will quote it here. She is speaking of Ms. LaViolette.
“…in this woman’s paradigm, all men are abusive monsters, and all women, even murderers, are victims…
…This philosophy is not only unfortunate, but, it does a great disservice to the millions of real abuse victims…
…I was in a terrifying abusive situation, classically modeled by Alyce’s model, but, I did not feel justified in murdering my husband, mutilating him, and then slandering his memory by telling the world he was a pedophile and monster…
…This woman has a smug superiority that is offensive to the senses of anyone with a fair view of the world…
…The relationships between people are complicated, and cannot be generalized by any one view, or made into pop iconic generalizations, like this philosophy portends. In fact, it is outdated…
..she has called Travis Alexander the monster, and even supported the liar killer’s claim he was a pedophile, with NO proof…
…And finally “I am so offended by her stance as an “expert witness” in the trial of Jodi Arias, that I have no objectivity towards her work.”
Obviously, Ms. Laviolette’s testimony has been quite offensive to many domestic violence victims. There is much additional evidence to support that conclusion. For instance, there is a new Facebook page entitled “Alyce LaViolette Is No Longer A Voice For The Voiceless.”
The page exists for two reasons: one to support Travis Alexander, his memory and his surviving family. The other is to “not allow real domestic violence victims to be insulted.” Though only recently constructed, the page already has hundreds of likes.
There also exists a petition to ban Ms. LaViolette from speaking at abuse seminars. As of the writing of this article, the petition have been signed by over 5,000 people. It is interesting to note that the petition cannot be signed anonymously but instead requires a unique email address and the signers first and last names. Here is the opening statement, from the website, describing the intent of the petition.
“Alyce LaViolette should no longer be given the opportunity to speak at abuse seminars based on her testimony in The State vs. Jodi Arias Murder trial.”
USA Today reported that Ms. LaViolette is receiving countless emails and phone calls at her Long Beach counseling office. The communications have become so intense, that Ms. LaViolette had to be seen at an emergency room for anxiety attacks and heart palpitations. Some legal experts question whether or not the public’s backlash towards Ms. LaViolette constitutes witness tampering. A retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge, Kenneth Fields, believes that nothing can done. “If it’s just the general public and there’s no intention (by the prosecution), then there’s nothing to be done about it.”
Ms. LaViolette once flew under the radar. Her credibility and expertise went unchallenged. Her expertise was simply assumed, after all she has worked in the field for 30+ years and did a lot of public speaking. She has also testified in some low profile or no profile trials. That’s all changed now. Her theories are being challenged, no longer are they passively assumed to be true. Her every word, every conclusion, is now being judged for its’ wisdom and underlying biases.
Is it fair? But of course it is. Ms. LaViolette voluntarily accepted the job of expert witness, in a high profile trial, and she didn’t do so as an act of charity. She is being paid $250.00 an hour for her out-of-court time and $300 an hour for her in-court testimony. When it’s all said and done she could walk away with $30,000.
Actors and actresses are scrutinized. They are scrutinized both professionally and in their private lives. Baseball players, that underperform, our ripped by the fans and the media. Individuals running for political office, know that their private lives and their personal histories, are now open for public scrutiny and know full well that the scrutiny will be intense.
Ms. LaViolette is now a national public figure. There is no reason, for her or her supporters, to assume that she should be above the intense scrutiny that occurs with national public figures. Perhaps she did not realize that this would be the price that she would pay. However, it is quite fair for her to pay this price and any outcries to the contrary, are naïve and uninformed. Perhaps, even biased.
She is being paid but she is also paying. She is trading dollars for her reputation. In the mind of this writer, it is a poor trade.