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Who's the real abuser?

  • HLN is covering the Jodi Arias trial live gavel-to-gavel
  • Arias is accused of killing Travis Alexander, but she says she did it in self-defense
  • Watch 'HLN After Dark: The Jodi Arias Trial' at 10 p.m. on HLN
Who's the real abuser?

When court is done for the day, the conversation is only just beginning. Watch HLN’s newest hit show "HLN After Dark: The Jodi Arias Trial" nightly at 10 p.m. on HLN.

Domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette testified for the defense Tuesday in an attempt to support Arias' claim that she was the victim of domestic violence. LaViolette may also have an explanation for what motivated Arias to lie about killing Alexander. Arias testified that she lied about killing Alexander and about their kinky sexual relationship to protect Alexander's reputation after his death. Alexander was a devout Mormon who had memorized the Book of Mormon, according to Arias' testimony.

LaViolette will likely explain the mental state of an abused woman, and why such women protect their abusers. On Monday, LaViolette said that, early in her career, research showed many battered women eventually returned to their abusers. Therefore, she helped create one of the first counseling programs for perpetrators of abuse to help break the cycle of violence.

HLN is live-blogging the Jodi Arias trial. Read about LaViolette's first moments on the witness stand here. Read below for minute-by-minute updates from the trial. (Best read from the bottom up.)

7:45 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens has recessed court until 1:45 p.m. ET Wednesday.

7:23 p.m. ET: LaViolette said there is no way for researchers to know if people who grow up in abusive families become abusers.

7:18 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

7:15 p.m. ET: Psychological abuse can set a mood in a relationship, and it can be more difficult to understand and perceive, said LaViolette.

7:11 p.m. ET: LaViolette said women generally say verbal and psychological abuse is worse than physical abuse.

7:09 p.m. ET:

7:06 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking LaViolette to explain the controversy of the concept of the "cycle of violence." LaViolette said people do not think it's accurate because many victims do not get a honeymoon stage when the abuser makes up for the abuse.

7:03 p.m. ET: LaViolette said when she counsels couples suffering from domestic violence issues she tries to find out what they believe is normal behavior when they get mad at each other.

7:01 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking LaViolette a variety of questions of how she counsels abusers and victims.

6:58 p.m. ET: LaViolette said she will not counsel domestic violence couples together for multiple reasons.

6:56 p.m. ET:

6:53 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking LaViolette how she begins the process of counseling an abusive male. LaViolette said she interviews the victim separately if the couple is still together, because she wants a big picture of what is going on in the relationship.

6:50 p.m. ET: It can also be a financial burden for women to follow through with charges against their abuser, said LaViolette.

6:47 p.m. ET: LaViolette said it is common for battered women to recant their abuse when they are about to testify against their accuser. Eighty percent of women will recant their abuse, according to LaViolette.

6:42 p.m. ET: Willmott asked LaViolette what happens when victims testify in criminal trials against their abusers. She didn't get a chance to answer, and now the attorneys are at a sidebar.

6:40 p.m. ET: The judge is on the bench, and testimony should begin any minute.

6:25 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens has said court will be in recess for another 10 minutes.

6:24 p.m. ET:

6:21 p.m. ET: The judge is back on the bench, and the attorneys are talking to her about something.

6:19 p.m. ET: Testimony should begin any minute. From our producer in the courtroom:

There's a stark contrast between public reaction to the attorneys. Juan Martinez has become a celebrity. At the end of the day, a crowd waits for him outside applauding and cheering his exit. People want to take pictures with him and ask for his autograph, when he's at the street corner drivers give him a thumbs up and honk with a salute.

The defense attorneys need sheriff's deputies to walk them into court and during breaks because they're getting death threats.

6:00 p.m. ET: The judge has recessed court until 6:15 p.m. ET.

5:59 p.m. ET:

“A child who grows up like this, who has this type of childhood when they’re young, do they learn how to deal with their relationships without intervention?” asked Willmott.

“They would not have the skills to deal with an intimate relationship because they didn’t learn the skills to deal with an intimate relationship. Most of us probably haven’t seen our parents fight a lot. Some parents will go behind closed doors, and they’ll have their arguments and whatever. But if your parents acted out a lot in front of you, you’re shaken up in a different way than if you don’t see that,” said LaViolette.

“The worst kinds of violence tend to be perpetrated by the people who’ve lived in the worst kinds of environments,” said LaViolette.

5:56 p.m. ET: The following testimony may hint at Alexander's background. Alexander's parents were drug addicts, and Alexander was eventually raised by his grandmother.

“A child who grows up in an environment like that, who is neglected, who can’t bathe all the time, who has parents who are violent to each other, who has parents who are drug addicts – would you consider that abusive?” asked Willmott

“Yes, it’s an abusive family environment…” said LaViolette.

“So even though that child necessarily wasn’t hit, do you consider this type of environment for a child to grow up in, is that abusive?” asked Willmott.

“It’s very abusive,” said LaViolette.

5:53 p.m. ET: When children grow up in abusive relationships, they can feel powerless in their own intimate relationships when they grow up. When they feel powerless, their reaction is to fight back.

5:51 p.m. ET: LaViolette said children who grow up in an abusive relationship learn a lot of negative coping skills.

5:48 p.m. ET:  The attorneys are at a sidebar.

5:46 p.m. ET:

5:43 p.m. ET: LaViolette said when she is counseling abusive men she tries to change their beliefs about their use of aggression. She also works with men to be more empathetic towards others and their partners.

5:40 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar.

5:38 p.m. ET: LaViolette said generally woman can be overly empathetic, and will even have sympathy for their abusive partners.

5:34 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

5:31 p.m. ET: Willmott asked LaViolette if there is a difference between how society views angry men and angry women. LaViolette can be judged more harshly when they are angry, and even when they are assertive.

5:28 p.m. ET:

5:26 p.m. ET: LaViolette said there is a difference between how men and women fear. Women can be more cautious and more aware of their surroundings in public.

5:23 p.m. ET:

5:20 p.m. ET: Willmott is now asking LaViolette to explain the "cycle of violence." LaViolette said tension between the two partners builds to abuse, and then there is the honeymoon phase afterwards where the couple makes up. Hope grows in the honeymoon phase that the violence won't happen again.

“The cycle of violence is basically a tension building phase, an episode and a honeymoon phase. So that what happens is, there’s tension – it builds – there’s an incident -- whether that incident is emotional or that incident is physical, whether that incident is verbal – that happens and then there’s the honeymoon. And the honeymoon phase is where they make up, there’s that rekindled hope again. There’s that belief that things will change,” said LaViolette.

5:17 p.m. ET:

5:15 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining again how the periods between violence give the victim hope, and can keep them trapped in an abusive relationship.

5:13 p.m. ET:

Willmott asked, “Is that something you find in treating men that have been perpetrators of abuse, about their self-esteem? That it’s low?"

“It may not appear that way at all. They may be very successful, they may be very charismatic, they may have positions of power on the outside. But it’s more how you feel on the inside. And it’s more how you feel in that intimate situation. Because you can feel very powerful anywhere else, but in that intimate situation, you can still feel powerless,” said LaViolette.

5:11 p.m. ET: Now LaViolette is explaining Stockholmm syndrome where hostages start identifying with their kidnappers, and how it relates to domestic violence situations.

5:10 p.m. ET: LaViolette can eventually begin blame themselves for the abuse, and will become stuck in abusive relationships.

“If they’re early enough on, [the victim] usually will blame themselves but feel like they can change it. And that’s the hope – the hope is you can change it, the belief is you can change it. And by the way, the perpetrator of domestic violence usually believes they can stop it,” said LaViolette.

5:08 p.m. ET:

“In sexual assault, we might look at the way somebody is dressed or who they’re hanging out with or if they were drinking or whatever… in domestic violence, there’s a lot of times the issue of provocation. People will say, ‘Well you shouldn’t have said this or done this and you’re provoking the person.’ So there’s this cause and effect attachment – if you hadn’t done this, then I wouldn’t have done this back to you kind of thing,” said LaViolette.

5:06 p.m. ET:

"You can't keep hurting people you love and feel good about it," said LaViolette.

5:05 p.m. ET: LaViolette said abusers will blame the victim for their own anger.

5:03 p.m. ET: Arias looks sad as she watches LaViolette talk about examples of how a victim of domestic violence can behave.

5:00 p.m. ET:

“Most people get in a relationship and they’re attracted to the person where they are. And that’s true for people who are abusive as well. So as your self-esteem goes down, you become another person. And usually the person who is mistreating you stops respecting you at all as well. So it is easier to mistreat you,” said LaViolette.

4:58 p.m. ET: LaViolette said victims become withdrawn from the world, because they don't think they can tell anyone about the abuse.

4:55 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Willmott asked LaViolette to explain how a victim of domestic abuse can become isolated from loved ones.

4:53 p.m. ET: Many women do not have proof of physical violence, because they don't make police reports, said LaViolette.

“A lot of women have no proof of physical abuse because they haven’t reported. When I’m working in family law cases, you very seldom have evidence because most people don’t make police reports… You’re not wanting to get your partner in trouble so you don’t make the report, you don’t tell anybody and you lie about what happened in the medical report,” said LaViolette.

4:50 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining all the reasons why people will stay in abusive relationship. She said people will endure an abusive relationship for cultural, religious, and monetary reasons.

4:48 p.m. ET:

4:47 p.m. ET:

4:44 p.m. ET: Victims of domestic violence learn to be helpless, according to LaViolette. Between episodes of violence, victims fall back in love with their partner and this hope can keep people stuck in abusive relationships.

4:41 p.m. ET: LaViolette is walking through an example about how abuse can start in relationship. After about a year in a relationship, the abusive partner will usually get mad, and then the anger will progress. Eventually, the abusive may throw something at the wall. Most people tell LaViolette said at this point most people tell her they will not leave. In another argument, the abusive partner may hit their intimate partner, and again LaViolette says most people tell her they would not leave the relationship at this point.

“Most of us could live with someone who is abusive for about a year… and if we were in love, we wouldn’t notice because they would be on their best behavior for a period of time. The energy of new love is bigger than the energy of fear,” said LaViolette.

“You get in an argument and this argument is a little different than the other arguments you’ve had. During this argument, your partner picks up something that you care about and throws it into the wall and breaks it. And I ask people, ‘Would you leave now?’ And most people say, ‘No,” said Violette.

“In this argument, your partner slaps you across the face. You’re very involved in this relationship and you love this person. Do you think you’re going to stop loving and liking somebody because they hit you? And most people say, ‘No,’ that is not true for them… Most people believe that in a relationship you should be treated well… But they also have a clash of values at the very beginning of that relationship. And the clash of values is, I shouldn’t be mistreated but I should be a forgiving human being, I should be a compassionate human being, I should be an empathic human being, I should stand behind somebody thick and thin, ” said Violette.

4:37 p.m. ET:

4:34 p.m. ET: The domestic violence continuum LaViolette created has been peer-reviewed.

4:32 p.m. ET: LaViolette is back on the witness stand, and Willmott is asking her if she has used her domestic violence continuum in court before. She said she has used it before, but mostly in family court.

2:57 p.m. ET: The judge has recessed court for lunch. The live blog will pick back up at 4:25 p.m. ET.

2:55 p.m. ET:

“Sexual humiliation is where you’re having people do things that they might go along with but lowers their self-esteem. And it can be any kind of thing that’s humiliating or degrading to someone in a sexual way. Or using sex as a way to control. So it could be anything, it could be something that the other person is comfortable with, they go along with. It could be forcing somebody to be sexual and there are strange things that happen in that area… I find that victims of domestic violence do not like to talk about sexual abuse because they feel that they’re as responsible as the other person… they blame themselves and they hold themselves accountable for the sexual abuse,” said LaViolette.

2:53 p.m. ET: LaViolette said abusers are usually victims of abuse themselves, and their history of abuse can impact how they abuse their partners later in life.

2:51 p.m. ET: From our producer in the courtroom:

LaViolette's style of story telling and anecdotal evidence appears to be resonating with jurors. Even those jurors who are prolific note takers are not taking notes and are completely attentive.

2:47 p.m. ET: A "terrorist" can be abusive without ever laying a hand on someone according to LaViolette.

2:44 p.m. ET: LaViolette she sees victims all the time that are worried about hurting the reputation of their abusive partner. This may support Arias' claim that she lied about killing Alexander and their kinky sexual relationship after his death to protect his reputation.

2:42 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining how abuse victims can become extremely isolated from the outside world, because they want the world to like their partner.

“Isolation can be that you’re not talking to anybody about what’s going on in your life. And that’s common in domestically violent relationships that people don’t talk to other people. They don’t to their friends, they don’t to their family about what’s going on because they want people to like their partner. They want people to care about them, they want people to hang with, they don’t want anybody to think they have lousy taste. They care about that so they tend to keep it to themselves,” said LaViolette.

2:40 p.m. ET: Sometimes abusers will become physically violent with family pets according to the LaViolette.

"You talk about torturing pets. Is that something you see?” asked Willmott.

“I’ve seen that but I haven’t seen that much. Partially because I think people who do things to animals are reluctant to talk about them, so there are many things that aren’t talked about,” said LaViolette.

2:39 p.m. ET:

2:37 p.m. ET: Abusers will threaten to kill themselves or their victims in the most severe type of domestic abuse according to LaViolette.

“If you’re with somebody you love and they threaten to kill themselves, it is terrorizing to people who love you. It is terrorizing to anybody in that family. It’s terrorizing to children in that family. When you talk to families where there’s a  threat of suicide, it can control the entire family because they’re so worried that that could happen,” said LaViolette.

2:34 p.m. ET: LaViolette further explains that victims suffering from hostage syndrome only see the situation through their abusers eyes. She calls this a "monopoly of perception."

2:32 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking LaViolette how some abuse victims can be trapped in a hostage syndrome, where they don't feel free to function in the world with other people.

2:28 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining the most severe type of domestic abuse. She calls this type abuse as "terrorism," and she describes it as stalking like behavior.

“When a relationship ends, most people – there usually is one person who isn’t ready to have an end. And that’s for any of us -- most of us have had relationships where they ended before we were ready to have them end… and you’re not quite ready to have an end so you might call that person just to hear their little voice on the answering machine. Or you might drive by their house or something to see if they’re there. You might show up somewhere where you think they are,” said LaViolette.

2:26 p.m. ET: LaViolette said as the abuse becomes more severe victims will become withdrawn and isolated. Every relationship is different, and it is difficult to predict how long this change can take to happen.

“[The victim] can be friendly, they can be more self-confident, they can be even gregarious, they can be the person that plans activities for friends. And then over time what happens is they become more withdrawn, they become less self-confident, they become more self-blaming, their self-esteem goes down. So you see a real change,” said LaViolette.

2:25 p.m. ET:

“How is jealousy controlling?” asked Willmott.

“Well, if you’re dealing with someone who is jealous, what happens is they let you know in lots of ways and they don’t have to be in obvious ways… they can be in ways that -- I give you silent treatment when you come home after you spend time with friends and I don’t talk to you for awhile. Or I ask you a lot of questions and I interrogate you,” said LaViolette.

2:22 p.m. ET: LaViolette said domestic violence usually escalates over time. For example, anger and yelling can eventually turn into physical abuse.

“Usually when you’re looking at domestic violence, there’s an escalation over time in intensity and in frequency so you don’t see things, generally, real drastically at first. Occasionally, you’ll see a very drastic episode,” said LaViolette.

2:21 p.m. ET:

“[The abuse] doesn’t have to happen every day to create a mood. It could happen every two months. It really depends on the nature of what’s being said, the nature of what’s being done and how the person receives that,” said LaViolette.

2:18 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining all the ways abusive men can control their partners. She said men can even use technology like gps monitoring and cell phones to keep constant tabs on their partners.

2:17 p.m. ET:

“For the most part, in these relationships… they occur within the family and these people, many of them are very well-thought of in the community, they are very well appreciated because it would surprise anybody to think that this person was acting out at all. It would throw people off. And so they’re more concerned with how they appear to other people,” said LaViolette.

2:14 p.m. ET:

2:11 p.m. ET:

LaViolette is explaining how the abuser who fall in most severe columns in her abuse continuum believe abuse and violence have belief systems that reinforce their attitudes about abuse. They believe violence is ok way to handle things.

2:08 p.m. ET: The programs LaViolette has created for men help them understand how their actions affect their loved ones even if it isn't physical.

2:06 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining the difference between name calling and character assignation. Now she is explaining the difference between verbal and psychological abuse.

2:04 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Willmott asked LaViolette if a high-conflict couple is abusive. LaViolette said there is controversy over whether a relationship where anger has eroded goodwill is considered abusive.

2:02 p.m. ET: LaViolette said usually a male partner can become more aggressive when the female is aggressive as well.

2:01 p.m. ET: LaViolette is now explaining that a more severe stage of aggression is when anger, becomes a problem in the relationship and it erodes the relationship.

1:59 p.m. ET: The continuum begins with isolated acts of aggression that don't necessarily mean someone is abusive.

1:57 p.m. ET: LaViolette is explaining a continuum of abuse she created that shows the range of abuse can appear in relationships and families.

1:53 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

1:50 p.m. ET: LaViolette's pay rate for forensic analysis is $250 for research per hour, and $300 for appearances per hour.

1:49 p.m. ET: The defense retained LaViolette in the Arias case in the Fall of 2011.

1:47 p.m. ET: LaViolette said she turned down a case yesterday, because she did not have time to dedicate to it. She has also turned down cases, because of a lack of evidence. She said she has testified about 18 times in different criminal cases.

1:45 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Willmott is asking LaViolette if she has every turned down the chance to testify in a criminal case, and why. Martinez objected to the relevance of the question, and now the attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

1:44 p.m. ET:


1:42 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

1:41 p.m. ET:

“I use humor in my trainings because it’s such a serious topic and because it’s hard for people to listen. And some of my trainings are all-day trainings, but even if they’re two-hour trainings, it helps people to take it in. It’s easy to listen if you can occasionally laugh and spend some of the tension that you have when you’re hearing about things like this,” said LaViolette.

1:38 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Willmott and LaViolette seem to have a warm relationship. LaViolette cracked a joke and Willmott giggled and smiled. Arias is wearing a black shirt, and has part of her hair pulled back with a clip today.

1:35 p.m. ET: LaViolette is back on the stand talking about her professional experience and how she has worked with police officers about how to handle domestic violence situations.

1:30 p.m. ET: Testimony should begin any minute.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez dropped a bombshell Monday when he accused Jodi Arias of being a perpetrator of physical abuse, potentially creating uncertainty as to who the real abuser was in her stormy romance with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

Arias testified earlier in the trial that it was Alexander who brutalized her and said that his alleged physical and sexual abuse culminated in a fight, forcing Arias to kill him in self-defense.

Watch: Will the jury hear about Alexander's slashed tires?

On Monday, Martinez grilled defense witness Richard Samuels, a forensic psychologist, on whether Samuels knew about Arias' alleged past physical abuse of her mother when he diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

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