‘I Froze’

This morning, I want to tell you about a story that’s difficult to read but also eye-opening. Jen Percy, a contributing writer for The Times Magazine, has spent months reporting on a frequently misunderstood aspect of rape — why victims often freeze rather than scream or fight back.

Jen’s story opens with a list of examples, some well-known and some from her reporting. “I froze,” said a woman who was assaulted during a military training exercise. “I just absolutely froze,” the actor Brooke Shields said, describing how she felt while being raped. “I just froze,” Lady Gaga said, about being assaulted when she was 19. “I was like a dead person,” Natassia Malthe, a Norwegian actor, said. One study of rape victims at a Boston hospital found that more than one-third of them reported experiencing a version of this freezing, which in its extreme form is known as “tonic immobility.”

Researchers say that it is an automatic defensive response with roots in evolutionary behavior. There is a cliché, dealing with a different kind of threat, that captures the same idea: a deer in the headlights. Jen writes:

For more than a century, scientists have studied similar phenomena in animals, and over the years they have been named and renamed — animal hypnosis, death feigning, playing dead, apparent death and thanatosis, an ancient Greek word for “putting to death.” Tonic immobility is a survival strategy that has been identified across many classes of animals — insects, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals — and draws its evolutionary power from the fact that many predators seem hard-wired to lose interest in dead prey. It is usually triggered by the perception of inescapability or restraint, like the moment a prey finds itself in a predator’s jaws.

As Amy Arnsten, a neuroscientist at Yale, says, “Under stress, your brain disconnects from its more recently evolved circuits and strengthens many of the primitive circuits, and then these unconscious reflexes that are very ancient kick in.”

Yet many people remain ignorant of the frequency of freezing during sexual assaults. Instead, friends ask victims why they didn’t fight back or yell for help. Doctors and nurses are sometimes confused, too. Most significantly, police officers have long treated reports of freezing as a basis to doubt an assault allegation. That attitude is one reason that such a small portion of reported rapes lead to criminal charges.

All of which suggests that more widespread understanding of the freezing phenomenon could change the way that both the medical system and the criminal justice system handle sexual assault. In her story, Jen describes the work of Nancy Oglesby, a prosecutor, and Mike Milnor, a former police officer, who teach a class that trains investigators to recognize freezing and respond appropriately. In the class, Oglesby and Minor teach police officers how to conduct empathetic interviews that gather potential evidence.

Afterward, Milnor said, officers sometimes get emotional as they reflect on prior cases that they have mishandled — a feeling that Milnor said he himself had. “I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve had these tough, seasoned, burly cops coming up to me with tears in their eyes,” Milnor said, “saying how they’re thinking about the victims that they treated poorly, not out of malice, but out of ignorance.”

You can read Jen’s magazine story here.


Hawaii Wildfires

President Biden traveled to Hawaii to tour the aftermath of the wildfires and meet with survivors. “The devastation is overwhelming,” he said.

These maps of Lahaina show at least 1,900 buildings and other structures that the wildfires damaged.

Officials in Hawaii knew for years that wildfires were coming. Now, residents are asking how they were so unprepared.

Tropical Storms

Tropical Storm Hilary brought record rainfall to parts of Southern California, but caused little damage. “We were very lucky,” an Orange County official said.

The rain reduced the risk of wildfires in the region, at least for a few weeks.

Tropical Storm Harold formed overnight less than 200 miles east of Texas and was expected to move inland today.

Republican Debate

The field is set for the first Republican primary debate: Eight candidates will participate tomorrow. Donald Trump will not.

“A royal rumble”: Democrats hope to see Republicans take unpopular positions on abortion and Social Security.

Chris Christie had hoped to goad Trump on the debate stage. Will his attacks land if Trump isn’t there?

Trump Indictments

Trump said he would turn himself in on Thursday to be arraigned in the Georgia election interference case. A judge set his bail at $200,000.

Prosecutors pushed back against Trump’s request to postpone his federal election interference trial until 2026.

A new poll found that Trump’s lead among Republicans in Iowa, the site of the party’s first caucuses, grew after he was indicted in Georgia.


China made a smaller-than-expected cut to a key interest rate in the face of its economic slowdown. Stocks fell in response.

The Chinese government has often addressed economic troubles by spending more on infrastructure and real estate, but heavy debt will make that playbook tough to follow.

While the Biden administration is trying to reset the U.S. relationship with China, state governments are enacting sweeping rules aimed at severing trade ties with Beijing.


Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary chief who led a brief mutiny against the Russian military in June, appeared in an unverified video, seemingly in Africa.

Japan intends to begin discharging over a million tons of radioactive wastewater into the ocean this week. The plan complicates its nascent friendship with South Korea.

Cambodia’s prime minister transferred power to his son after nearly 40 years.

A British nurse was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the killings of seven newborns.

Other Big Stories

Six months after he entered hospice care, former President Jimmy Carter is still holding hands with his wife, and his family is planning for his 99th birthday in October.

One-year-olds exposed to more than four hours of screen time a day had developmental delays.

Investigators missed signs that sheriff’s deputies in Mississippi suffocated a man while subduing him, experts said.


Tennessee Republican officials accuse the state’s G.O.P. governor of ignoring voters by urging action on gun violence. In fact, he’s heard them, Margaret Renkl says.

Japan’s plan to release radioactive water into the Pacific is a missed opportunity to restore trust in how governments handle nuclear waste, Azby Brown writes.

Here are columns by Michelle Goldberg on a right-wing critique of capitalism and Paul Krugman on the Chinese economy.


Waymo’s robo-taxis: San Franciscans can book rides in driverless cars. Times reporters tried it.

“Keep your clothes on”: A sunflower farm had to ask visitors to stop posing nude.

Tourism of excess: Spaniards complain that British visitors drink too much and spend too little.

Dating: Having too many followers can be a turnoff.

Lives Lived: Bob Jones was a folk singer in the early 1960s when he volunteered to work at the Newport Folk Festival. He soon became a force behind that festival and one for jazz. He died at 86.


World’s fastest woman: Sha’Carri Richardson, an American sprinter who missed the Tokyo Olympics because she tested positive for marijuana, won her first world championship title in the 100 meters.

Luis Rubiales: The head of Spain’s soccer federation offered a halfhearted apology for kissing a player on the lips during the Women’s World Cup medal ceremony. “Probably I made a mistake,” he said.

Riveting finish: The Commanders beat the Ravens, 29-28, on a field goal in the final seconds to end Baltimore’s 24-game preseason winning streak. The ESPN analyst Troy Aikman called it “the greatest preseason game I’ve ever been a part of.”

Another first: The Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez has reached base safely 17 times in a row when putting the ball in play, a major-league baseball first. The young star is fueling a seven-game Seattle winning streak.


Going viral: A little-known musician, Oliver Anthony, topped the latest Billboard singles chart with “Rich Men From North of Richmond,” a country song infused with right-wing messages. The song is part of a summer of conservative pop-culture hits, including the Jason Aldean song “Try That in a Small Town” and the anti-child-trafficking film “Sound of Freedom.” Social media attention helped the song find an audience, but its sudden rise was partly thanks to savvy fans who used a quirk of the charts to boost its position — a tactic that K-pop fans also use.

More on culture

Angelina Jolie will produce a Broadway musical adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel “The Outsiders.”

A federal judge rejected an inventor’s attempt to copyright A.I.-generated artwork. The ruling is expected to be appealed.


Caramelize eggplant for vegetarian chili.

Play fantasy sports with Wirecutter’s picks for the best apps.

Breathe when you’re checking email. A lot of people forget.

Do more with a Chinese cleaver.

Check whether you should get an R.S.V. vaccine.


Here is today’s Spelling Bee. Yesterday’s pangram was monoxide.

And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The Times promoted Emily Weinstein to editor in chief of Cooking and Food.

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox. Reach our team at [email protected].

David Leonhardt writes The Morning, The Times’s flagship daily newsletter. He has previously been an Op-Ed columnist, Washington bureau chief, co-host of “The Argument” podcast, founding editor of The Upshot section and a staff writer for The Times Magazine. In 2011, he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. More about David Leonhardt

Source: Read Full Article