BRENTWOOD, N.H. — Jurors in the trial of a Plaistow man accused of beating and burning his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son heard from a domestic abuse expert Wednesday who indirectly bolstered the mother’s explanation for why she didn’t leave.

Scott Hampton is the director of Ending the Violence, an organization that educates people who commit domestic abuse. He testified for the state in the case against Roland Dow, 28. Dow faces numerous charges, including assault, child endangerment and witness tampering.

The boy’s mother, Jessica Linscott, 24, testified last week that Dow physically and mentally abused both her and her son, James Nicholson, and that she sometimes spanked and harshly punished the toddler because if Dow did it, it would be worse. She also said she was afraid to leave him because she thought he would track her down.

Though not commenting specifically on the Dow case, Hampton said abused parents sometimes behave in hurtful ways in trying to protect their children from greater harm.

“Is she spanking her kid because she wants to spank her kid, or is she spanking her child to protect him from severe abuse?” Hampton said.

Asked why someone in that situation wouldn’t just leave, Hampton said more victims are killed trying to flee than while staying in abusive relationships. Victims often don’t leave because the abuse progresses so gradually, he said, illustrating that point by describing an experiment involving frogs. A frog placed in 104 degree water will immediately jump out, but one placed in room temperature water that is heated gradually will stay put and slowly cook, he said.

“The change is slow enough that he adapts to it,” he said. “We do the same thing in relationships.”

The couple was arrested at a Florida theme park in November 2012, two weeks after leaving the boy at a hospital with a severe brain injury, bruises all over his body and burns on one arm and hand. James is now living with Linscott’s mother.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Thomas Gleason, Hampton said a case in which two people both hit each other might not necessarily be domestic abuse, depending on the parties’ intentions and the impact of their actions.

“Just because both people use force doesn’t mean there’s an abuser,” he said.

Hampton also acknowledged it is possible for someone to lie about being abused. Gleason has suggested that Linscott has a history of making false accusations against others when she feels threatened.

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