The Forensics of Relationships: Emotional Crime Scenes
“Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti.
When you were a child there were crimes committed in your presence. Mother was screaming, father was drunk, or your brother pummeled you on the back with his fist. You watched mother throw your baby brother down in his crib.
You saw dad slap your mother. You heard grandmother say your mother was stupid and worthless. You walked in when mother held a gun pointed at her face. You saw your father punch your brother in the face. Your brother walked in on dad having sex with the neighbor lady. Your brother’s best friend touched your genitals.
Your sister told you that you were retarded and she wouldn’t let you hang out with her and her friends. Dad died in the car accident last summer and you survived. Mom died of cancer and dad is missing somewhere inside his head.
Mother is in rehab for a meth addiction. Dad is a wanted felon. The kids at school said you were fat. The kids at school say you’re stupid. You dropped a large rock on the baby bird in the back yard. You shot the cat with a BB gun.
You made fun of your sister. You yell at your friends if they make a mistake. You steal from work because they owe you. You feel anger and rage at your wife. You want to hit your boyfriend because he was talking to another girl.
Life provides no shortage of crime scenes. Crime scenes may become points of trauma; they may become life markers; they may become defining moments. Most often they are points of trauma and we keep returning to the scene of the crime. How we return will be discussed a bit later.
How do we know we have a residue left from one of our crime scenes?
A crime scene is the site of a crime. A crime is any activity that is a violation of the law; an offense of any kind that violates morality; an unjust, senseless or disgraceful act or condition; an evil act; or something to be regretted.
In relationships there are many crimes committed. Sometimes these crimes are physical or sexual, as in domestic/interpersonal violence. Other times crimes are emotional in nature and may or may not qualify as domestic violence.
For our purpose in this blog a crime scene is a time in your life when things went bad, so bad that if you took a picture of it emotion would flood the viewer. It is a place where the hurt began or where it has learned to continue. It is filled with shame and that shame likely has continued into other of your relationships. Sometimes you were the witness in a crime scene, other times you were the victim, and still other times you were the perpetrator. At times, you may have been all three.
The first step in understanding the forensics of your relationships is to be able to recognize a crime. We are going to look at a number of crime scenes. Sometimes people have become so comfortable with crime and violence that we no longer pay attention to the everyday crimes. Television, news, computer games, and dislocating from one another by email, social network groups, and texting have all contributed to a certain insulation factor. We have been so over-exposed to crimes that we have become comfortably numb to the experiences taking place every day in front of us and within ourselves.
Childhood Crime Scenes
Michael awoke in the middle of the night. He had to pee. He rolled over and placed his feet on the floor. At the moment his feet touched carpet he felt a sensation of fear. There were noises coming from the living room. Mother was screaming and using the F word. Father was calling mother bad names. There were other voices he did not recognize. He heard words like syringe, spoon, bag, and lighter.
He crawled back in bed and pulled the covers up tight. He squeezed shut his eyelids and his forever green eyes were sealed against intrusion from the outside. He repeated to himself, “Round and round, round and round, the merry-go-round goes round and round.” He urinated; the warm fluid relaxed him as he felt it flow across his stomach, legs, and eventually his feet. He fell asleep.
He had school in the morning. Mother awoke him and his sister, “Get up you lazy kids, get to breakfast or you won’t have any food until tonight.” Mother came into his room. The smell of urine permeated the room. She screamed at him, “You’re f—-ing twelve years old and still wetting the bed. What’s wrong with you?”
The above vignette is a crime scene. We have a time, place, and action taking place. We have feelings and we have the inevitable tell-tale warning sign of a crime scene: shame.
Shame is one of the secondary feelings of the primary feeling known as fear. Fear takes place as a result of a mixture of biological/emotional responses. Fear is usually linked to the fight or flight phenomenon. Fear can be caused by any number of things, but fear is linked to trauma.
Generally speaking, if you have trauma you had fear; if you had fear you may have some level of traumatization. Most traumas in a lifetime are not seen as that serious. I would disagree with this. I believe there is a great deal more post-traumatic stress disorder in the general population than statistics suggest.
In the next blog we will further explore emotional crime scenes and look at how to spot when you are returning to an old crime scene by way of your relationship.
Take care and be well!
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, PhD
 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
Burton Mongelluzzo, N. (2012). The Forensics of Relationships: Emotional Crime Scenes. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/angst-anxiety/2012/04/the-forensics-of-relationshipsemotional-crime-scenes/