The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 21, 1986 · Page 6
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 6

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, January 21, 1986
Page 6
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Living Today The Salina Journal Tuesday, January 21,1986 Page 6 Rape trauma testimony debated By The New York Times NEW YORK—For more than a year after the rape occurred, the woman was haunted by it. She wept about it by day and dreamed of it at night. She lost sleep and gained weight. She was tense, fearful, unable to concentrate on her work. She stayed away from friends, avoided sex and severed an important romantic relationship. In short, she was transformed from a healthy, well-adjusted individual into one who was emotionally adrift and floundering. What she was suffering from is not uncommon. It has, for the last 11 years, had a name: rape trauma syndrome. It has been recognized by psychiatric authorities as a legitimate disorder. And it is now the focus of a legal debate over whether testimony about it ought be used in court, and if so, for what purposes. Judges do not agree among themselves, nor do prosecutors, nor do feminist litigators working to change rape laws. Rape trauma syndrome received recognition in 1980 when the American Psychiatric Association incorporated it into its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The organization categorized it as a form of posttraumatic stress disorder, the essential feature of which, the manual says, "is the development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically traumatic event that is generally outside the range of usual human experience.'' Discussion of rape trauma syndrome moved from the offices of therapists and rape crisis counselors to the courtroom in the early 1980s, although not with ease. The most prevalent misconception about expert testimony on how rape affects victims is that it is used to prove a rape occurred. Actually, the judgment of whether or not a rape occurred is largely based on the credibility of the defendant and tile complainant. Legal authorities say most rape trials center on the issue of consent. The defendant does not deny he had intercourse with the complainant. Rather he contends it was with her consent, and she must prove she did not acquiesce. With the corroboration of a witness no longer necessary, jurors are increasingly expected to weigh his words against hers. Calling on an expert to describe rape trauma syndrome experienced by the woman is intended to demonstrate that she did not consent. If she had consented, she presumably would not have demonstrated the symptoms. Discussion of rape trauma syndrome is also used to help juries understand the victim and her behavior. "Jurors still expect a woman has not actually been raped if she has not put up ferocious resistance," said Mary Ann Largen, policy analyst for the Center for Women Policy Studies in Washington, who is visiting several cities to interview judges and lawyers on the need to revise rape laws. "In the final analysis, it's the person on the street who determines whether justice will be Kansas court rules By The New York Times Since 1982, the question of whether a description of rape trauma syndrome is appropriate in criminal cases has been deliberated by the highest courts of seven states. It has been upheld in Kansas, Montana and, in the most recent decision in May, in Arizona, and has been denied in Minnesota, Missouri and Oregon. In California, a decision sharply limited use of such testimony and there is disagreement over whether the ruling struck down such testimony. In other places, trial courts and intermediate-level appellate courts have issued contradictory opinions. In New York State, Elizabeth Holtzman, the Brooklyn district attorney and an advocate of using such testimony, said: "No case has yet gone to the highest court and there are some the court could have taken. At the intermediate level, it has been upheld." done, and it's clear that despite the massive public education that has gone on over the decade, the majority of people who end up sitting on juries still do not understand what rape means to the victim. Decisions are still made on the basis of her life style, behavior, physical appearance. Hopefully, once jurors understand what is normal behavior, then the conviction rate will improve." The way in which testimony about rape trauma syndrome is used can depend on whether the case is a criminal one — in which the state tries to prove the defendant guilty and impose a prison sentence — or whether it is a civil matter in which the woman charges negligence, generally by a third party, such as a hotel or employer, and seeks damages. But winning court acceptance of such testimony has been difficult. In a recently published book, "The Ultimate Violation," which is subtitled, "Rape Trauma Syndrome: An Answer for Victims, Justice in the Courtroom," Patricia Rowland, a former San Diego prosecutor, detailed the difficulties she had using testimony about the syndrome in four criminal cases. Two of those cases went to appellate courts, which ruled the testimony inadmissible; one ended in a conviction that was not appealed, and one was dismissed after the jury failed to reach a verdict. "I realized there was a pattern," Rowland said recently, "but I had to wait for the right victim to come along to try it in court.'' That one, she said, was a woman "who had done all the right things to save her life — as police officers now advise women, she had not resisted too adamantly — and all the wrong things to prosecute. "I decided it was necessary to show in court why she had taken actions that appeared to be acquiescence or bordering on consent," Rowland said. So far, the results in the judicial arena have been mixed. According to Eugene Borgida, associate professor of psychology and adjunct professor of law at the University of Minnesota, who has studied court decisions on cases involving rape trauma syndrome, the primary consideration is "the helpfulness of the testimony." Courts want to know, he said, "how helpful is it to the jury, is it prejudicial or not, will the jurors give it undue weight, is the expert going beyond professional assessment and rendering a legal judgment." Borgida was one of several authorities to speculate that the recent recantation by Cathleen Crowell Webb of charges that Gary Dotson, who served six years in prison in Illinois, had raped her, might provide additional impetus for using such testimony. "That case may create greater skepticism on the part of jurors and therefore we may see more expert testimony introduced by prosecutors, "he said. Opponents of testimony on the syndrome contend there are these objections to its use: • An expert witness projects an aura of special reliability that may unfairly tip the balance against the defendant. • Defendants may call in their own experts, turning trials into' jousting matches between psychiatrists. • The evidence is based on after-the^fact impressions and not on demonstratable fact. • The subject matter is not beyond the reasonable understanding of jurors without the help of expert testimony. • The stresses attributed to the syndrome are common and may be unrelated to rape. Elizabeth Schneider, an associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School who teaches women's rights,^said although she would not forbid expert witnesses on the syndrome, she had serious questions about it. "Rape trauma syndrome," she said, "sets up the situation where a woman says, 'Believe me because an expert will show how badly I've been hurt.' But if a woman doesn't conform to a stereotype, then she may not be believed. Do we really want to grant there is a unique and special harm done only to women? I understand why prosecutors want to use it; I know we must get convictions to demonstrate to women they won't be raped a second time in the courtroom. But in the long term I worry about what this approach says about society's view of women." Excessive doses of pain reliever hazardous Dear Dr. Donohue: Please settle something in my family. My daughter takes 12 to 14 Extra Strength Tylenol per day. She says she has a headache and is nervous. I say it is bad for her. She says there is no harm. Are there dangers in this? — Mrs.V.T. Your daughter isn't acting rationally about this. The manufacturer states clearly on the label you're not supposed to take daily doses totaling more than 4,000 milligrams. An extra strength tablet has 500 mgs. You can do your own arithmetic. Also, the label will tell you that you aren't Doctor Donohue NEWS AMERICA supposed to take it for more than 10 days. I hope you've settled this on your own before now. High doses, such as your daughter is taking, can cause a drop in the white blood cell count, and that can lead to infection. It It's Okay To Visit. You Can't Catch It. Some people are somewhat superstitious when it comes to discussing their own funerals. Luckily, that's all It is — superstition. In fact, planning a funeral is a major business decision, done most effectively before, not (luring, a time of grief. Prearranging allows you to choose your own services rather than burden your family with those decisions oil the worst day of their lives. You can evaluate each service and its cost rationally, choosing only the services that arc appropriate for you and discarding those that would only add needlessly to the price. By doing so, you guard against emotional overspending by your bereaved family. Most importantly, paying for your funeral now freezes the cost at today's prices. This guarantees thai your funeral expenses won't rise with inflation, and saves you interest and carrying charges. To talk about your funeral, call for an appointment or have a member of our staff drop by your home. Because decisions, not superstitions, determine your funeral. RYAN'S 137 North Eighth VES, I would like a member of your staff to contact me. NAMK. ADDRKSS. CITY .STATE. .ZIP PHONE. SALINA'S FUNERAL INFORM A TION SOURCE. might even cause some kidney damage. But there's another matter of concern, and that is the headache. You must realize that daily headache is not the norm. Pain is a gift, a stop sign that's saying something is wrong, take care of it. The answer isn't pain medication. It's finding out what's wrong. Dear Dr. Donohue: Please explain hypoglycemia.—S.S. Hypoglycemia means too little (hypo) sugar (glyco) in the blood (emia). In a very few people this can be traced to disturbance of the pancreas, which produces insulin, a hormone that "burns" blood sugar. For example, a tumor of the pancreas, if it is producing insulin, might cause too low a level of sugar in the blood. Most hypoglycemia arises from a different scenario. The pancreas is basically OK, but it tends to produce a bit too much insulin when it encounters carbohydrate from foods. The result is the same from this "reactive" form as from the tumor kind. For people with reactive hypoglycemia, the answer often lies in diet manipulation. For example, they can take more frequent meals that emphasize protein over carbohydrates. Dear Dr. Donohue: How does a doctor determine whether or not scoliosis (spine curvature) is serious enough to treat?—Mrs. R.U. An X-ray of the child's spine will tell how serious the curvature is. If the angle of the side-to-side deviation in the spine is less than 200 degrees, he will probably recommend postural exercises and periodic checkups to see how well that is working out. If the deviation angle is greater, bracing will probably be needed. Another reader, Mrs. T.V.L., asks about electrical stimulaton of the spine for this problem. This can be used in cases where bracing isn't needed. The little electrical device is worn only at night. It sends electrical current to the back muscles in hopes of strengthening them that way. Stronger muscles might resist the curving pressure of the backbones. On the subject of bracing. The "Milwaukee" was once the brace of choice in most cases of scoliosis. It is somewhat cumbersome and meets with a lot of child resistance, for the child has to wear a brace for almost 24 hours. Today, there are less cumbersome braces, the Boston model, for example. Many severe cases of scoliosis have been detected through school screening examinations, a program I applaud. Country sees rebirth of patriotic attitude By The New York Times NEW YORK - Quite suddenly, sounds and symbols of a reborn American patriotism are everywhere. They are in the campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty, a quintessential national symbol now engaging the energies of everyone from corporation presidents to schoolchildren. They are evident in events like last September's Farm Aid concert, with its repeated invocation of the family farm as an American tradition worth saving for moral as well as economic reasons. They can be seen in the reactions of people from coast to coast who fairly gushed with pride after the Navy's capture of the Palestinians who had hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered a passenger, Leon Klinghoffer. They are part of virtually every public appearance by President Reagan, who has become the nation's head cheerleader, taking every opportunity to reinforce the patriotic spirit, whether he is lighting the national Christmas tree, comforting the families of dead servicemen or plumping for tax revision. But if patriotism is in vogue, so, it would seem, is something very much the opposite. Legitimately, 1985 could be called America's Year of the Spy, with nearly a dozen major espionage cases having been exposed. The experts point out this breed of spy is different: money, not ideology, has become the main motivation. The same would seem true of the defense contractors who, in the last year, were accused of inflating expenses and of sometimes delivering flawed or nonfunctional weapons and equipment. These unsettling events provoke sharp questions about the nature of the new patriotism. While some people are happy simply to see expressions of national pride again, others worry this patriotism is wide but not very deep. They believe it badly needs nurturing, especially among the nation's youth. They also contend the civic values eroded by modern social and educational trends need to be restored. Until recently, even the word "patriotism" was suspect in many quarters; academics remain leery of it. "The word has become very loaded," said Richard Madsen, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego. "It's difficult to distinguish it from jingoism, xenophobia and so forth.'' Madsen and four other scholars recently published "Habits of the Heart," a study of how Americans in the 1980s strike the balance between private concerns and public responsibilities. Although patriotism would seem an essential consideration in such a study, the book's index contains only one citation for the word. The authors avoided it intentionally. "We were concerned about how Americans try to define good citizenship," Madsen said. Morris Janowitz, a University of Chicago sociologist, wrote "The Reconstruction of Patriotism" in 1983. But while he used the word in the title, he drew a sharp distinction in the book. "I find- the words national and patriotic limiting and offer the term • 'civic consciousness,' " he wrote. "It refers to positive and meaningful attachments a person develops to the nation-state. It involves elements of reason and self-criticism as well as personal commitment." Reason and self-criticism are not as important as self-respect to Dale Renaud, national commander of the American Legion. Patriotism, he said, is "not so much a love of country as a love of self, a self- respect." Renaud is delighted with the nation's new pride, which he dates from the stirring opening ceremony at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. That event, he said, seemed to unlock the floodgates of pent-up national emotion. Charles P. Murray, a retired Army colonel who is president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, sees the patriotic renewal as a sign that "the Vietnam thing has been overcome." "Just a few years ago, people didn't seem as proud of their country," Murray said. "They wouldn't stand up for the flag and the national anthem. Now we're more patriotic. I'm convinced of it." Call or mail your news tip to The Salina Journal; up to $45 in cash prizes awarded for the best tips every week. A Marketforce Affiliate ECLEN-MED INSURANCE Savings Good January 20 through PLANT All Green Plants And Hanging Baskets. Buy One At Regular Price And Receive A 2nd Plant Of Equal Value Or Less For Only A Penny. Hurry, Quantities Are Limited. All Plants, Except Dish Gardens. DESIGNS Flowers of Distinction 528 KenWOOd Park Dr. 2 Blocks South Ol Bicentennial Center 827-5581 WEDNESDAY SPECIAL CATFISH OR COD ALL-YOUCAN-EAT Skipper's® is going down-home with an old- fashioned fish fry. All-You-Can-Eat for just $2.99/Kids$1.29. That means all the tasty, tender fish fillets you want. And all the golden french fries and creamy coleslaw you can eat. Come on down to Skipper's today for a deal of a fish meal. $2.99 *1.29 uitiUr 12 On 1-35 and Crawford in Salina

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