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This is the story of eight women all killed and their bodies disposed of in and around the small town of Jennings, Louisiana, between the years of 2005 and 2009, local law enforcement said their deaths were the result of their high risk lifestyles. Their cases remain unsolved. This is the story of unanswered questions and families looking for answers and closure. This is the Swedien, a project season one, the Jennings A. You can listen anywhere you listen to podcasts.
You can also follow the podcast on Facebook and Instagram as well at Swedien. A project. Voices for Justice is a podcast that uses adult language and discusses sensitive and potentially triggering topics including violence, abuse and murder.
This podcast may not be appropriate for younger audiences. All parties are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Some names have been changed or omitted per their request or for safety purposes. Listener discretion is advised. My name is Sarah Turny and this is Voices for Justice and this episode of Voices for Justice.
I explore the psychology behind Alissa's case, and I speak with Dr. Shilo and Dr. Scott from the L.A. Not So Confidential podcast. They will each speak to their own experience and background. But Dr. Shilo and Dr. Scott are both very experienced psychologists that have worked with families, law enforcement and more. I asked them to come on the podcast to speak about Elyssa and the case in a very general sense.
Essentially, I wanted a better understanding of what Elyssa was going through and how her very unique upbringing and relationship with our father could have impacted her life. That being said, I want to add a large disclaimer here. We are not in any way trying to diagnose my father with anything without having treated him directly. Neither doctor is able to ethically or correctly diagnose my father with anything. And to be honest, that isn't something I would feel comfortable putting on this podcast.
Even if they were. We are simply having a conversation and referencing their knowledge on general psychology and how it is applicable to Alissa's case and how we grew up. Also, we ended up talking for a long time because there were just so many things I wanted to touch on, so this episode is being released in two parts, but without further introduction. Here is the first half of my conversation with Dr. Shiloh and Dr. Scott from the L.A. Not So Confidential podcast.
Thank you guys so much for being here. I just want to start with your background. Let's start with you, Dr. Shiloh. Thank you, Sarah. It's our pleasure to be here and we appreciate the opportunity to talk with your audience and give some input. So thanks for asking about our background, because I think that would be important to them.
So I'm a forensic psychologist in Los Angeles and I have worked in a couple different areas under that umbrella, primarily for about well, going on 14 years. I always say a decade, but I have to admit it's been longer than that.
I worked with prisoners coming out of incarceration and specialized in high risk sex offenders.
So all the way from contact offences with victims in real life to Internet facilitated sexual offences and with population.
I did psychological assessment and treatment group, both group therapy and individual therapy. And then I also do that in my private practice now a little bit as well with what we call pretrial offenders.
So these are individuals who realize they're being investigated and want to get into therapy before they're going to prison.
So it's a little bit, as you can imagine, sort of managing anxiety and depression and the fears that are there, as well as wrapping their mind around what prison is going to be like and prepping them for that. And then a good deal of them, especially those that come to me of their own volition, definitely want to start working on why they got in trouble and want to start figuring that out before they even go to prison. So so that that's been the majority of my psychological career.
I now work in law enforcement psychology. So I am a psychologist that works directly with and for a police department where officers are my clients. So I might see them just for any sort of given life issue that they want to come to therapy for or if it's after some sort of critical incident that they've been involved in as part of the job. And that is full circle for me, because before I was a psychologist, I was a police officer for seven years with a local police department here in Southern California.
And it was a fantastic experience and definitely has set me up for everything that I am doing now.
So I feel like I have worked three different careers in one lifetime already.
But, yeah, that's that's a bit about me. Dr. Scott, would you like to introduce yourself and tell everyone a little bit about your background? Sure. So I and I started out in this career after a long time in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and various various areas of the last couple of areas I worked in were casting and producing documentaries and talent management. And I thought that I was going to be going back to school to become a marriage and family therapist, which is a master's level clinician, providing services to like families, individuals, couples.
And I got about halfway through my program and I realized I was just so fascinated and I wanted a really deeper and wider breadth of education. So I got into a doctoral program that is a clinical psychology program. So I'm also a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as being a licensed psychologist. And although Dr. Shil and I have the basically the same basic foundational education in our doctoral work, my emphasis was on clinical work with sort of like a minor in family forensics.
So I have specialized training in being an expert witness and doing custody evaluations and really kind of doing deep dives into family dynamics right out of school. I went to work in the state prison system out here, did that for several years. Then I worked in the jail system here in Southern California and now I partner with a law enforcement entity as a partner. I go out on a daily basis with a law enforcement officer or detective in order to help people that are at risk of becoming a danger to themselves and the community.
And we try and reconnect them to services. And that's that's sort of like the small description version. We do a lot more than that. We also educate law enforcement officers on how to use the escalation techniques. We also train people on sort of hostage negotiation. That's not really my specialty, although we've both Shiloh and I have been trained in that. And Shiloh and I met years ago at our internship working with sex offenders, and we became fast friends and we our offices are just a few blocks from each other.
And three years ago, we were walking home from coffee or walking back from coffee. And Shiloh said, oh, we should do a podcast. And here we are. It's crazy how things like that work.
And of course, all of us met through the podcasting community as well. It's it's a great, really cool community of so many people that care. I'm just honestly so grateful.
We have met the best people. We talk about that all the time. Just the quality of individuals that we get to meet and work with has been so just I don't know where else I could have gotten that, but it's it's been really rewarding and just I love it, like just the caliber of people, the caliber of talent and just nice, nice people, which is such a so unexpected.
It was it's been great. Yeah.
I mean, I'm just so grateful to have you guys on because when it comes to, you know, the psychology of all this, I'm just completely out of my realm of experience. And I don't want to comment on anything if I don't have, you know, firsthand experience or knowledge on that specific topic, if you will. So I'm going to hand it over to you guys, because you have created a wonderful list of topics that you think are extremely applicable to speak on in terms of Allissa situation.
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Yeah, I mean, when we first started collaborating with you and just bouncing ideas back and forth, you know, it's sort of when we started talking, what, like eight months ago. And so since then, it seems like the focus has changed because the entire situation has shifted for you. And as a result, I think that sort of informs how we'll be talking about what we're talking about. So what I came up with Dr. Shiloh was some interesting things that just in listening to your podcast, listening to the interviews and your back and forth, the things that sort of jumped out for me, and especially from my particular training previous to becoming a psychologist as a marriage and family therapist.
One of the things that really jumped out to me is this concept of parenting styles. So, you know, in the world of parent education and family education, we look at basically that there are overall four broad distinct categories of parenting styles. We have authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved or disengaged. And really only one of them is really great and that is authoritative and authoritative is sort of like the best kind of combination of of qualities that a parent can bring to the situation to the best of their ability.
And one of the things in listening to so much of your recordings, as I see these markers for authoritarian parenting and when we're talking about authoritarian versus authoritative. We're talking about parents who have really excessively rigid rules and excessive punishments and, you know, one of the major roles that parents are supposed to play in a child's life is to socialize that child to the values and the expectations of their culture and people who are authoritarians and are very rigid about rules in the House and the rules of life, quote unquote, basically don't really do a great job of parenting their child in that way.
And so authoritative, like we're saying before, is considered to be optimal and then authoritarian and permissive or uninvolved, disengaged or are all problematic. So parents with an authoritarian style, authoritarian style tend to have really high expectations of their children, but they don't provide a lot in the way of feedback and the necessary nurturance of that child in order to develop their adult skills. Mistakes tend to be punished really pretty harshly. Corporal punishment yelling are really commonly seen in the style.
And, you know, a lot of the research shows that parents who work from this paradigm are status oriented and obedience oriented, and they expect their orders to be obeyed completely and without any explanation. So punishment is used rather than discipline. The parents are generally not willing or they're not able to explain the reasoning behind their rules. Or if they do try and explain the rules, don't make any sense or they're arbitrary and they change all the time. So authoritarian parents tend to see themselves as like these knight songe in shining armor.
They're champions of morality. But what we find out is that kids that grow up in that kind of environment end up becoming less evolved when it comes to regulate like self-regulation and making moral and ethical judgments later on in life. So it's not the greatest bag for someone who grows up in that environment. So let's talk about this. Are there any is there anything good about this type of parenting? So I'm going to try and find something good out of this particular example.
Kids raised by authoritarian parents can be goal driven because they they're used to basically abiding by really strict instructions and rules. So there's a benefit to that. Kids can figure out, oh, these are the steps that have to be taken in order for me to accomplish this goal. So that's one sort of positive we can find. Another one is that authoritarian parents really place a strong emphasis on safety. So they like and usually physical safety. So they try and minimize the types of behaviors.
For a kid, that might be risky. But the problem is down the line is that growing up as a kid, you're supposed to go through these developmental stages where you take risks and you experience the consequences of your actions. And if somebody's an authoritarian parent is hovering around all the time with these threats of punishment, then a kid doesn't really have the opportunity to explore in that area. So the other thing that could be possibly thought of as positive is that, you know, of the kids of authoritarian parents, they are absolutely the best behaved in the room, like they really, really are noticed to be by other people of like, oh, your kid behaves really well because there's a really clear line about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
And they're also usually, like, really highly attuned to what the negative consequences are going to be from any kind of wrong behavior. So they avoid stepping out of line. The problem is, is that kids are kids and they need to explore with being their own person, which means they're going to come in conflict with that authoritarian parent. So now let's talk about those were the sort of. Possible pros, the cons are really significant. So all the studies show that kids that grow up in that kind of environment have lower self-esteem.
They depend on others to reflect back to them their confidence, and they sometimes struggle in social situations or new environments. They can be emotionally withdrawn. They're not comfortable expressing their emotions because their emotions are generally and validated by their parents. And then sometimes they can become themselves overly dependent on rules, rigid rules. And the world doesn't work that way. You know, the world is all about shades of gray having to be flexible, and that can be difficult for a child that grows up with that environment.
And then one of the other really significant things that can happen is that the kids, especially into the teen years, can get so exhausted by constantly trying to find a way to adhere to all these rules. They basically just throw in the towel and they become rebels and they rebel, they rebel and behavioral ways or emotional ways, which then only cause more conflict with the parent. So that's a mouthful about authoritarian parenting. Do you feel like I just dumped on you right now?
A little bit.
But that's OK, because I like while you're speaking, I'm thinking of so many things in my head, of course, and so many examples of Elyssa, because I feel like she was she was kind of both right. There was this aspect of her that I think really wanted to please our father and kind of, I guess, put him at ease and get him off of her back. But then, yeah, there are so many instances in which Alisa kind of acted out, you know, said inappropriate things towards teachers, calling them names in response to them not being nice to her or whatever, just things that I think are pretty normal teenage things, at least from my point of view.
But one thing that really struck me while you were speaking is that I feel like, you know, in my opinion, our father was was both ways. Right. He was very controlling over Elyssa. But then when it came to me, he was completely the opposite. So at the same exact time, he was doing two different parenting styles. So I would love to get either of your opinions on that, because that's that's what confuses me. It's not as if he was just one way.
He was acting in two separate, different ways to listen. And I both at the same exact time. Which is even more damaging because if you had if two children, two siblings are treated exactly the same way, at least there's an ability for them both to have this shared experience where, you know, you know, you as a sister can turn to her and you can both go, wow, this is a really crappy situation, but at least I'm not going crazy.
You know, like like there is something that we have a commonality here. You can validate my experience. I can validate your experience. But that's also, you know, that was just the tip of the iceberg that Shiloh and I were bringing up as far as issues. Because what you're saying is exactly what we're going to talk about next and why you guys might have been treated so differently.
So the before you go into that, Scott, I just I wanted to, you know, go back even with the the positives or the good outcomes, that kid that you mentioned, how incredibly confusing it could still be in a child, because like you said, with these strict rules that there is no answer behind it. It's just because I said so or because I'm the parent. So there's no development of critical thinking for this child or explanation, like let's sit down and talk about it and why I have these rules for you.
It's just very black and white.
So you can see how that then could develop how that child becomes when they grow up and how they think about the world and how they start taking everything in. And it's just it's so damaging when you are essentially forming someone's thinking patterns in an erard way right off the bat, because, you know, at first you don't think like, oh, am I going crazy?
But you just think, OK, this is the way it is.
This is how I have to put up with it, especially thinking your parents are all knowing and unconditional.
Right. We all would love to think that they mean well and they're doing their best. And that could just be terribly conflicting.
Right. Right. It's I think you hit on something so important is that it's so intrinsic to the individual's ability to develop critical thinking skills so that they can become a fully functioning, healthy adult. And what's crazy is that you can have you can put a child in the worst parenting situation we can possibly imagine. And Shiloh and I have seen a lot of horrific parenting situations. And yet. Because of our sort of innate resiliency that's built into us so that we can survive as a species, people generally can get through it with relatively little damage.
But if it's chronic and severe. Of this treatment, you know, what we're doing is setting up some for some real fallout later in life, and especially, Sarah, what you're talking about, that you're seeing both of these because we're getting into the next concept, which is splitting.
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So sibling alienation, where you do exactly what you just described, which is one child becomes the target child. Who is the one that's the problem maker? It's the one that's always messing up, it's whether or not they're actually rebelling. They are described as rebelling. They're described as the troublemaker is the one who needs all this attention and constant constant maintenance versus the one who is the golden child or the favorite child. And neither one of those positions is great.
It's not great being the favorite child, because when you're the favored child, you're not necessarily getting the correct containment and the correct positive or negative consequence and reinforcement that you need in order to develop into the healthiest functioning adult that you can. So why would somebody do this? And it's really why would a parent do this? It's simple and it's really sad because by luring each child into what they think is the favored status or over disciplining one child in comparison to the other and then badmouthing the targeted child to the golden child, the parent is able to secure at least one of the child's loyalty and then weaken the relationship between the two kids.
Because you're putting one kid in the position of C, C, look at your sister. Your sister is just such a mess up. She can't do anything right. And you're fine. I don't have to worry about you. Go live your life. I've got to be over here constantly taking care. So what it does is it keeps the entire family dynamic off balance. You as siblings are never allowed to really figure out your own relationship. And one of the most heartbreaking things in listening to your your sessions, your podcasts, and I've listened to most of them several times, if not a minimum of to some some of them.
Three is you give examples of these moments between you and Elyssa that are really sweet and poignant, that in spite of this sort of separation that was instilled between the two of you, you really do come away with it from these moments that you had where there were really emotional, nurturing moments between the two of you. Does that feel familiar? Absolutely, I mean, everything you say is just resonating with me so much. I mean, that's exactly how it was growing up, was that Alissa was, you know, the bad one.
She was the wild one. It was always look at what she's doing now. Look at she's screwing up. Now, you know, my entire life I grew up listening to our father yelled, Alissa, you know, he would do things like put poster boards up on the walls with rules for her and say, well, you can't remember them. So I need to post them for you to see because you're just so stupid. You can't remember them.
While I was over here, you know, kind of begging for attention, not having to go to school, doing whatever I want. I mean, you know, when Elissa had to sign the contract stating that she had to, you know, not be alone after nine p.m. or whatever, I was out at my friend's house all the time, you know, till one, two, three in the morning, just doing, you know, not not great things or whatever.
So it's it's so crazy to see exactly how differently we were treated. And, you know, to your point, yeah, Elissa was extremely nurturing. Despite her going through this experience with our father, she's still picked up that maternal role for me. She still cared for me so much in ways that my father didn't even care for me. You know, she was basically the only one cleaning the house, taught me how to do laundry, how to do dishes, how to really have all of those skills.
You would need to take care of yourself as a person. So while Elissa was doing all this and, you know, in my opinion, our father was kind of pitting us against each other, it just caused so much contention between us because we both thought the other was, you know, the favorite. But even despite that, Elissa was caring enough to realize that I needed that motherly role while she didn't even have one herself. So, yeah, I think you hit the nail right on the head.
You know, part of this strategy is in. In any other situation, whether it was political or business, it's basically divide and conquer. So by keeping each child in a completely different paradigm, a family experience, you're trying to keep both of the kids off balance. And even in spite of that, the resilience that both you and Alissa had was able to create a relationship that with someone help that. You mean one of the things that. Probably got pulled out of Syria as a result of her experience, which she was parenticide in some ways, and it really feels like there was this role that was placed upon her that was more of a spouse role than a child child role.
And one of the things that we see in people that are chronic misogynists, you know, men who really have this internalized misogyny, this really view of women as lesser or other beings, is that they have very rigid role expectations. And you can really tell if a guy has a problem with women because he can be on the surface, can seem like the nicest guy in the world. But once he perceives a woman to step outside the role that she's supposed to inhabit, if his reaction is really huge, then you know where he's coming from.
You know, he's coming from like a really sort of twisted view of what a woman is supposed to be in the world and in relationships. So, yeah, sorry.
I mean, just to stop you there, I saw that all throughout my father's relationships, even before I was born. You know, from the second he divorced his first wife, his first thought was, where do I find another to take care of these kids? And he did he. He remarried right away and, you know, after actually while our mother was dying, he expressed that he needed to find another woman to come take care of the kids and take care of the house.
It wasn't until, you know, he had this girlfriend, teacher of Alissa's, when Elissa said, you know, I'm having sex with my dad. It wasn't until after that that he completely stopped dating and completely stopped looking for that other person. So, yeah, I think, again, as always, you were hitting the nail right on the head.
And I think your audience, everyone knows that if you and Alissa had been able to grow up even more together, that your bond would have just gotten closer and closer, you know, as you gained your independence away from your father, that even with the situation, that dynamic that Dr. Scott's explaining, you guys would have risen above that and had such a wonderful relationship as adults.
Yeah. And I mean, what's heartbreaking about that that I don't mention in the podcast is that before Alyssa was gone, that is when we really started getting closer. You know, I wasn't going totally wild yet or whatever. But, you know, like I mentioned, I was staying at a friend's house. We were staying up late. We were, you know, whatever talking to older boys, all the all the things that I thought were so bad that Alyssa did.
I was starting to try and, you know, it was developing into this different relationship. You know, for example, it was a really big deal to me when she finally let me and my friends take the city bus and go to the mall with her, with her and her friends. It was like the first time that I felt like I wasn't the annoying little sister. And we were we were finally bonding. So, yeah, I think you're exactly right.
I was seeing that. And that's, again, just one of the most heartbreaking aspects, as if I just had one more year with Alyssa. I feel like maybe she would have been able to confide in me and what was going on, and we could have, I don't know, worked it out together and got out together.
Right. Right. Yeah. I definitely feel like it was just a matter of just a little bit more time, and that would have made all the difference.
I was just going to say, I just think it's still going that that resiliency with everything that the two of you experienced, what you have shared with us about your sister illustrates to me that she was able to overcome so much of it. You know, the criticism and the comparison that you relate that your dad kind of put upon her. Why can't you be more like Sarah? Why can't you do this? Why are you so blind? You know, just sort of fill in the blank there the way he criticized her.
You know, so many kids that are subject to that kind of behavior grow up to think of themselves as underachievers and outsiders. And they don't know how to celebrate their strengths because they've never really taken in any other voices except their their parents negative voices. And a lot of people in that situation can't even take it in from the outside, even though we know, like in the worst situation for a kid, if they have one or two positive mentor role models, a teacher, a boss, or even a literary character or a TV character, they like that.
That can be sort of the anchor for them. And I'm just amazed that given the severity I mean, it's so hard to wrap your mind around. A teenage girl of her accomplishments and her abilities, having to live in this environment with poster boards all around with these rules she has to follow. I mean, that's just it's almost unimaginable. And if I was a family there, you know, if I was working as a family therapist and a parent brought that as like, oh, yeah, this is the way I do things, I would I would be horrified.
I really would. Yeah, of course, I mean, I think that one of the reasons that we were so different to is, you know, I was always told that I was smart and I could do anything I put my mind to. And I really, really believed that. And, you know, despite, you know, being somewhat neglected, in my own opinion, that's really what drove me forward, is that I always had this confidence that I am smart, I can do whatever I put my mind to.
And unfortunately, I Elyssa did not have that same mindset. I can tell you that. And it's just it's heartbreaking.
Well, and that's the the power of suggestion, if you will. And I think that's a good Segway for me to dive into a really specific tactic that we see in some of these family dynamic type situations and and others.
They can be we most often think of it in romantic situations, but it can be at work and politically. But that is gaslighting, which is a very trendy term these days. I think almost everyone is sort of using that in vernacular to talk about specific characteristics of abusive relationships. And so just a basic definition of gaslighting would be.
A manipulative psychological tactic that's employed to make someone doubt their sanity, and in this the manipulator tries to get the the target or the victim, however you want to say it, to question their reality and their perceptions and are gradually sort of sowing the seeds of doubt for that person.
So this comes from a movie in nineteen forty four, which was originally a play in 1938 called Gaslight. And it was about this abusive husband who tries to make his wife believe she's gone mad in order to send her off to an asylum. And he is doing things like dimming and brightening the gas lights in the home in order to manipulate her reality. So it it is a form of psychological abuse. It can be used, like I said, in personal relationships, professional relationships.
You could have a boss or a coworker that does this to you or it can be more of like a public figure that's trying to manipulate us as a population or as voters or how however they can using media.
But the common thread is that the victim ends up questioning everything about their own judgment.
Can I trust the information that I'm taking in from my very own senses? Is there something wrong with me? Is, you know, maybe I'm the crazy person here. Those are very common thoughts for someone who's being gaslighted.
It tends to be a tool that narcissists love to use in their relationships.
So just very quickly, narcissistic personality disorder is is a pervasive mental health disorder that falls under the category of personality disorders.
And there is a as we're starting to find out with a lot of mental health issues, a biological basis perhaps, as well as a enviromental.
Impact in developing the sort of personality disorder with somebody and they typically can't self validate, so they're constantly seeking other people's approval or validation or they just make up their own, that everything is so great and wonderful in order to believe their own lies, to pump themselves up. And what stood out to me as we were talking about just right now, sir, when you were talking about.
Him wanting to replace wives essentially as soon as possible is that narcissists tend to see people in their lives as merely characters, they're just characters in their own script.
They really don't mean much to them and therefore can be replaceable, especially if they're not meeting the needs of the narcissist, if they're no longer useful to that person.
So that just kind of gave me chills when you were talking about him seeking that, you know, very quickly after each marriage or before your mother had even passed away.
So they really they can be compulsive liars. They want to keep up this facade to everyone else of this flawlessness.
Oftentimes, they will be really hesitant to want to share what their partners or other family members to share, maybe just regular bad things that are happening in the family or failures.
They really want to keep that in-house. They don't want anyone to know that they're even experiencing just the little things you and I experience on a daily basis that aren't going well. And they also like to play the victim in order to evoke sympathy or some sort of pseudo love or support from others.
So. So that's a narcissist. I don't want to get too much into that. But narcissist love using gaslighting.
And it's very effective if they can isolate the victim from others, because you can imagine if you start to isolate from other people and other thinkers and you're only getting the information from that person and potentially an authoritarian parent, that that is going to change your thinking into what they want it to be.
I mean, what I was just going to jump in because you're hitting on all those points. One of the really tragic dynamics that can happen in that situation is when you get someone when the target of gaslighting. Has been taught that. They will get a better result by pleasing the person who is in the position of authority than that only reinforces the authoritarians ability to gaslight. Absolutely, because then they don't want to disagree with the contradictions. You know, your emotions can be contradicted.
Your you're what you're seeing, hearing, feeling, experience, all that can get wrapped into this denial of your experience. But you don't want to push against it because you still want what little love or reinforcement you can get from that person.
Yes. So it becomes this vicious cycle of the victim being more and more reliant on the manipulator, which that's what they want. They want total utter control over that individual. So a couple of things that jump out to me that are sort of sub tactics of gaslighting is name calling.
You know, it usually doesn't start with this, but the easiest way to put someone down is kind of this last ditch effort is to call them things like stupid or dumb. And, you know, not only is it does it seem like Alissa was hearing those things, but then that's being relayed to you in the family as well. Your not only is Alissa having to see these poster boards, but you're walking by them every single day. So now it's it's reinforcing this this way of thinking to everybody who's in the household.
So name calling is definitely one that we see shaming.
So opening past wounds that might be hurtful to someone or telling them you should be ashamed of yourself for the way that their thinking is a really good way to make somebody feel small and insignificant and like they don't matter.
And then the last one, I think is, you know, another verbal one that is important is sort of these tasteless jokes, like very condescending at the expense of the victim. And it's a way to be abusive, verbally abusive. But then it comes off as like, oh, it's just in a joking manner. What's your problem? And if you're not laughing, then what's wrong with you? So it can constantly be flipped as to there's something wrong with you and why you're not getting what I'm saying.
So all of those things.
Yeah, I was going to say that one in particular completely loops into what you're going to touch and touch on a little bit later, which is the idea of grooming behaviours and sort of naming a younger person to inappropriate comments about body image or sexuality. Sure. You know, it's it's it's like taking something, a tasteless joke that has a sexual innuendo, you know, should never be shared between a parent and a child. That's just like absolutely outside the borders of any kind of appropriate parenting.
Yeah, it can be a way of testing. You know, is this is this person comfortable with this topic yet? That sort of thing.
But all of this speaks to that triangulation that Dr. Scott was talking about. If you think of a triangle with, you know.
One family member like the manipulator being at one point, the other person in the family that they're trying to get on their side at another point and then the victim way out and sort of this very pointy, almost like a flag or a pin on their way out on their own. And here are the other two sort of together on the same team.
That's, you know, a lot of these tactics can be done to make that happen. So it's it's very tragic.
I think most people, again, think of this in terms of a romantic relationship, that someone's trying to manipulate them or gaslight them and to think they're crazy. But it's really hard to wrap your mind around a family member, especially a parent, doing this, because, again, you think they're supposed to unconditionally love me. They are right. Our parents can sort of do no wrong until we grow up and realize they're human, too.
But that can make it so hard to really see what's going on and it's very hard to get out of.
I mean, people need some specialized help because there are some really long lasting effects to gaslighting. Yeah, I mean, I feel like you guys have brought up 30 plus years of memories for me during this conversation because there's just so many examples I can point to that, you know, mirror what you guys are saying. And, you know, like, for example, the reason the main reason I stayed home from school so often is because our father always said that he was going to give us away or run away.
And I was genuinely afraid that one day he just wouldn't be there, which caused me, of course, to latch onto him even harder and created this relationship between him and I where I felt that we were best friends, which also meant I would tell on unless I was that little sister that would tell on her every every chance I got, because I really thought that she was a danger to herself, like I had been led to believe, especially when I was younger, not so much towards the end before she left, but when I was younger, I was genuinely afraid for Alyssa.
And I thought that by telling on her, I was helping her in some way.
Sure. Like helping rescue her or save her. Exactly.
Exactly. Getting her back on on track or whatever she would need. In terms of that, I really thought I was helping. But there, you know, there are some what I feel are inappropriate instances in which our father had people speak to us about our behavior. He had an aunt call us and she she literally called and said, you guys are going to kill your father. You're such bad children. Oh, gosh. Yeah. And another incident where his psychiatrist that we were close with, he had been going to him for, I think, five plus years.
At that point, his psychiatrist brought Alissa in and said that basically the same thing, that you guys are being naughty and it's really affecting your father and it's hurting his feelings and you shouldn't do that. So it's crazy because it wasn't only him.
It was as if he, I guess, talked people into believing this reality about us when we weren't we weren't doing much. We were maybe jumping off the roof, onto the trampoline, into the pool, but we weren't robbing banks or doing hard drugs or or being that crazy. So I would honestly love to get your opinion on the fact that a psychiatrist sat us down and told us those things as children. Let me pull my soapbox out.
I'm ready. You know, I got to tell you and Shiloh knows this is something that like this gets me so hot. I it is absolutely infuriating. First of all, we as mental health professionals, whether you're a psychiatrist who is a medical doctor with an emphasis on mental health treatment, that includes prescribing medications. But whether you're a social worker, MFT, LPC psychologist, psychiatrist, we have ethical and moral and legal duties to hold the framework of what we understand about an individual that's in our treatment, given the parameters of family and the sort of one sided information we get.
You know, and if you start thinking that a client is coming to you and giving you the whole picture, then that's a big problem right there. So I'm just going to say very definitively that psychiatrist really it doesn't matter that he was manipulated by your dad. It doesn't matter. What matters is that he didn't have the professional acumen and the professional judgment to discern at some point like. Huh, I wonder if I should look for some inconsistencies in the story that this guy is bringing me and then to cross a boundary even further, which was probably at the direction or request of your dad.
Will you please talk to my daughter? I'm like, I'm falling apart. I'm dying. It's just killing me. Will you please know what he was able to do was manipulate this person into his world and sort of create this false narrative, which is part of the gaslighting paradigm that Charlotte was talking about. So on one hand, like the psychiatrist fell for it. On the other hand, he absolutely should not have. That's our job, not to fall for that stuff.
And it's not to say that we don't. I have family members come in and join sessions all the time.
And I do that and I tell them, you know, I am not your psychologist.
We do not have a therapeutic relationship. You are here to be an additional source of information for me.
We call them collateral. A collateral source of information can be a person.
And what I want in that session, whatever I'm working on with their, you know, partner, parent, what have you, is to know from their eyes, you know, how is how do you see your husband functioning at home? What are some of your concerns? Because they're with them in the home all the time. And so to get some more information, but I wouldn't be telling them. To do anything, and so, I mean, I could even see in the situation or explain the psychiatrist, have you come in and saying, hey, how are things at home?
Like, what's your perception help?
And it would help inform him to what your dad's story is like.
And then he needs to figure out how to best meet the treatment goals for your father. It's not about trying to control the household from his office, if that makes sense. Yeah, that makes total sense.
I think even when I was younger, I was like, this is weird because they were extremely close. I believe this man worked with our father for over ten years, if I remember correctly, and went to him, you know, about twice a week. It was court mandated as a part of his disability agreement, at least according to my father. So, yeah, I mean, there's just so many instances and I feel that Alissa was really treated in such a way that it didn't enable her to have independence or make her own decisions.
You know, even a lot of one thing that's brought up a lot by her father is something called the Ames test. It's it was a newer test that was implemented before you could get your high school diploma. And Alice's class was undergoing testing. It wasn't a it wasn't a formal test. It was brand new. So they were just giving it to juniors, I believe, and senors to see if they would even pass it to kind of test this before it was implemented.
But even then, he didn't even give her a chance to take it. He heard about it and fought for it immediately for her to not have to take it. So she never even in my opinion, she never had a chance to even test her abilities. You know, every night after school, it was him doing homework with her. She was never just left to do it and see how she would do on her own. And I think that it really was a part of why she felt so down on herself all the time.
And I think that, you know, again, there's so many examples, but that's just the first one that comes to mind.
Yeah, that's a that's actually a perfect example, though, Sarah, because what you're illustrating there is that there's this hovering parent over her shoulder, never, never letting her independently figure out a math problem or diagramming a sentence or how to construct an essay. But so she doesn't develop the facility to fail a little bit and then sort of recover from her failure and build mastery of any of those skills. Although I don't believe for a second that she had a learning disability because nothing else in the in the life that you have described in her ability to work and her ability to function in other areas does not indicate a learning disability.
But I will say this. I mean, that's a classic mark of a narcissist. If if a test was going to completely prove that this young woman was high functioning and without any intellectual disabilities or cognitive disabilities. Oh, no, I can't let her take that test because. Then she won't be able to be under my thumb anymore. Right, as well as the school, because he had had, you know, possibly a school convinced or other people can be that the jig would be up at that point.
Yeah, that makes total sense to me, honestly, and he did fight for that diagnosis so hard. And, you know, for the record, I have not been able to find a an actual diagnosis anywhere. There have been some rumors that that psych that psychiatrist that I spoke about that brought us in and spoke to us was the one that diagnosed that I've heard. It's from a teacher, from a principal. But none of those are actual sources in what you would get that type of diagnosis.
And she was, you know, not on medication for it. I think in my opinion, it was just a mental tactic to keep her down because she was extremely high functioning there. You know, to be honest, she had a better memory than I did. So it's really interesting that you say that there are a few topics that I want to touch on, too. And I don't know if it fits here in the conversation or if you'd rather address it later.
But two things I really wanted to talk about as well was the fact that, you know, our father was giving us pretty, pretty heavy prescription medication at young ages and, you know, as far as I can tell, throughout our entire lives. And then I also want to touch on, you know, the contracts and see where that fits in the grand scheme of things.
You know, of course, our father made her sign many contracts and he stated that he learned this approach in a parenting class. So, yeah, whichever you want to start with first, I would just love to get your thoughts.
All right, guys, this is where I'm going to leave you for now, but come back for part two because there is so much more to talk about. And as always, thank you. I love you. And I'll talk to you next time.
Voices for Justice is hosted, produced and edited by me, Sarah Turny, if you want to learn more about Elyssa story and how you can help with the case, visit justice for Alyssa Dotcom. And if you love the show, it would really help if you gave me a rating in review in your podcast player. Thank you so much and I'll talk to you next time. All right, guys, you made it this far. Welcome to The Secret after show moment we've created here.
So, of course, I have to thank Dr. Shiloh and Dr. Scott, I don't want to give a full overview of this episode because this is only part one. But I can say that I was really excited for this.
Dr. Shiloh, Dr. Scott and I have actually been working on programming around Alice's case for a long time. It started back in November of 2019 when we were trying to put something together for an event and that event fell through. And since then, we've been trying to plan something for crime con.
So hopefully that still happens. But it's given us a lot of time to go over what we kind of think about in this case, and it's given them a lot of time to review the podcast. So I'm super excited for part two. I'm super excited for this whole episode. But, yeah, I think it's a really cool addition to these experts I'm having on. That's kind of the focus right now, of course, is getting experts in their field to talk about Alissa's keys, which, to be honest, is a challenge because the case is up in the air.
Not everyone is really willing to comment on it. So I really appreciate, of course, Todd McComas, as well as Dr. Chilo and Dr. Scott for coming on here in just discussing their feelings and personal thoughts about the case, you know, as it is relevant to their experience.
But I have a lot more in store for you guys, including a sneak peek, I actually talked to a medium and I get it, if you are totally out right now and you're like, I don't do mediums, I don't believe in it, I don't care, I get it. And that's fine. You don't have to listen. I totally get it. But I am really open minded to all those things. And to be honest, I get asked about psychics and mediums all the time.
So it just so happened that I was introduced to this medium who actually works with police departments, you know, to help solve cold cases or help solve cases in general, I should say. So I'm super excited for you guys here that I feel like it's not just a psychic medium episode because he does have this relevant experience with law enforcement. I think it does lend some credibility there.
So, yeah, that's just a little sneak peek. I'm not going to say more because I could go on forever and ever and ever, but I'm really excited about these episodes. They're very different than the timeline episodes. They won't last forever, but there are a few more to come. But let's get into questions. So this time I have two questions from Miss Justin. Hi, Sarah, my name is Justin, come in here from Idaho and I have two wildly inappropriate questions, hopefully don't consider them to be.
My first question is it's a bit naive. But just out of curiosity and the beginning stages, when they finally decided to formally investigate the disappearance of Elyssa, did they entertain her still being alive and being held captive? And if so, what were the steps that they took? But as they do. Secondly, so with the power of positive thinking manifestation, once your dad is finally imprisoned with whatever charges come his way, do you see yourself taking the time to go and see him in prison during the visitation and getting that satisfaction of finally seeing justice being served?
If so, have you prepared what you would say to him? I love what you're doing. I have nothing but the utmost of respect and admiration for all the time and dedication that I've been putting into this for al-Assaf. I have a sister myself, and I would be doing the same fucking thing. So I'm going to continue supporting and sharing Alicia's story and doing whatever I can. But these. Hey, thank you so much, Justin. Thank you for your questions and also your awesome and I appreciate you sharing Alice's story.
So question number one, did the police entertain the idea of Elyssa being alive and being held captive? So this isn't something that I have discussed with them. This isn't something that I found in the case file. But the thing is, you know, theories aren't going to be in the case file. They're also not going to share every single theory they have with family. So I imagine that that thought had to have crossed their minds. I mean, my goodness, I feel like as a detective, almost any possibility would cross your mind.
But I didn't find me find anything in there officially. So I don't know your second question about me visiting my father if he gets convicted. No, I would not go visit my father to speak my piece to him.
And that's because if this does go to court, I will have the opportunity to do that. If he's convicted, I believe the way that it works is if he's convicted. You know, at the sentencing hearing, I believe I get to say something somewhere in this process. I get to say something if he's convicted. And that is definitely something I have thought about so much.
And every time I think about what I want to say to him, I cry because to explain to him, oh, my gosh, I'm going to cry right now to explain to him how his actions have impacted my life.
You know, specifically, and especially if he gets convicted of Lissa's murder to explain to him how him murdering Elissa has impacted my life.
I could go on forever. I could make an entire new podcast about it. And yeah, I mean, there's so much I want to say. You know, if it comes out that he is convicted of this and he's the man that took away my sister, I mean, my goodness, Elissa was my only mom, you know. And to you know, on top of that, I like to let me live with the guilt that comes from her note.
You know, that line that says, Sara, you wanted me gone. Now you have it. You know, if he had something to do with that runaway note or even if, you know, again, if he's convicted of murdering Elissa, for him to let me live with that.
Is so cruel, so cruel, I mean, of course, the whole thing is cruel and awful, but there's so many specific things that, you know, in my mind would be just so unnecessary for him to do.
You know, why did I walk into her room first?
Why did that note say what it did? Why pick that note? Yeah, I mean, there's so much how do you explain to someone how they've completely devastated and ruined your life?
It's so hard, it's so hard, I think I would say all the things I think I would take months and months probably to prepare my statement to him because, my goodness, I mean, to say that this has affected all areas of my life is an understatement.
I have given up friends. I've given up, you know, significant others. I have given up my career. I have given up, you know, my sanity at times, my health at times.
I have given up everything to get justice for Alessa. And it's worth it.
It's not something I regret. It's not something I have a grudge about, if you will.
But, yeah, to be able to look him in the eyes and say, you've affected my life and in these ways would be enough for me, that would be enough for me to do it in court.
I don't think I would ever have the urge to revisit that with him, to go visit him in prison to rehash that. I think, you know, that's what justice looks like, right?
It's a conviction in court. We'll get of her justice and me being able to speak my piece to him in a setting where he is not allowed to interrupt me, he is not allowed to gaslight me, he is not allowed to speak back would be justice for me to. So long story short, now, I hope I get to talk to him in court and then I never have to talk to him again, you know, I haven't had a relationship with him in so many years and I have no desire to have a relationship with him.
And that won't change if this goes to court and he gets convicted. Absolutely not. But all that being said, you know, at this time, there are no case updates, I'm still just waiting for the state to make their decision or the county, I should say. I keep saying state you guys, it's the county prosecutor's office. So, yeah, I'm just waiting every single day checking to see if my father's been arrested, you know, because at this point I don't even know how how I would be contacted or notified.
I don't know if the county attorney calls me. I don't know if the police call me. I would imagine, like other things in the past, I'd probably just hear about it on the news, which is why I check all the time. So, yeah, that anxiety is still here and extremely crippling and awful, you know, but there's no case update is the long story short of that, I am really rambling in this after show, so I hope you guys enjoy it.
I hope you enjoy these random ramblings from me where I kind of explore these topics. But yeah, as always, if you guys do have questions for the after show, please submit a voice memo to Sarah at Voices for Justice podcast Dotcom. And I would love to answer your questions and have you be a part of our secret after show moment. But that's it. So thank you. I love you. I'll talk to you next time.