Zuma trial: Trauma specialist testifies

Trauma specialist Merle Friedman was questioned at length on Tuesday and said the reaction of Zuma’s 31 year-old accuser to the alleged rape was consistent with most survivors of the traumatic experience. Friedman was questioned on the characteristic effects of trauma following the testimony by Zuma’s accuser that she “froze” and could not shout for help or fight back when Zuma allegedly raped her. “Based on recent literature, freeze, flight, fight, fright, faint provides a more complete description of the human acute stress response sequence than current descriptions,” Friedman said, while reading her 12 page assessment of the complainant to the court. “When the attack is completely unexpected and the victim is awakened from sleep and perceives herself to be trapped, it is probable that her response would be to freeze and submit, rather than to fight. “Also, the history of the relationship, as that of father-daughter, and the respect in which she held him, would further reduce the chance of her fighting. “She did say ‘no’ twice to him and turned her face away and closed her eyes, which was some attempt at not being there or fleeing. The first response to a traumatic event is to freeze and some people come out of it and other people stay in the freeze,” Friedman said. Two weeks ago, the woman, who allegedly flounted before Zuma in nothing but a piece of cloth in his study, stated that she had not stopped Zuma when he started having intercourse with her and had ‘frozen’, although she had asked him to stop when he had started massaging her prior to the alleged rape. In other evidence brought before the Johannesburg High Court last week, Dr Mupata Likibi, the doctor who examined the woman on the day after the alleged incident said she was slightly injured and had a small tear to her private part. Likibi, who works at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital , said the tear indicated that the woman had not had sexual intercourse for some time and therefore he believed “very passionate” or violent sex could have caused the tear. Early on Tuesday the court also heard that in his first statement to the police when they began their investigation Zuma indicated that the incident had taken place in the guest bedroom and not in his own bedroom as he told the court. Police Commissioner Norman Taioe said when he asked Zuma to point out where the alleged rape had taken place, Zuma took him to a guest bedroom on the ground floor of his Forest Town home. Zuma has told the court that he had consensual sex with the woman in his own bedroom on the first floor, while the woman claims that he raped her in the guest bedroom.

March 2006
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