COMMUNICATION IN CRISIS SITUATIONS
It may seem unusual that a person whose professional career is devoted to criminal justice work should be interested in problems of communication. What relationship is there between providing crisis intervention in the criminal justice world and the business of communication? Actually, the relationship is very close. The whole task of crisis intervention is the task of communicating with people. People in crisis are in difficulty because communication within themselves and with others has broken down and they are unable to make any rational decisions. Consequently, there are distortions in the way they communicate with themselves and others. The task of crisis intervention is to help the persons achieve--with the assistance of the crisis intervener--equilibrium within themselves so that they can resume their normal activities.
In this chapter, basic communication theory is presented along with some of the major factors that block or impede communication, particularly in crisis situations. Once the communication problems are identified, some important ways of improving or facilitating communication will be presented. To illustrate the need for this chapter, consider the following scenario.
Two sex crimes detectives are leaving an initial interview with a rape victim. One turns to the other and states: "I don't believe her story. Anyway, 80 percent of alleged rape victims are lying!" Consider the possible responses of the other detective. Almost invariably the reply will be either approval or disapproval of the attitude expressed. Either the detective will respond, "I didn't believe her either." or he or she will tend to reply, "Oh, I don't