However, inas part of the Violence Against Women Actthe United States Congress ordered an investigation into the role of battered woman syndrome expert testimony in the courts to determine its validity and usefulness. The decision to change this terminology was based on a changing body of research indicating there is more than one pattern to battering and a more inclusive definition was necessary to more accurately represent the realities of domestic violence.
Battered women sometimes use physical force to kill their batterers. These women may be charged with a criminal offense. When women are charged with murder or manslaughter for killing their batterer, they often do not deny having committed the act, but rather claim the act was committed in self-defense.
In some cases, battered women may claim that they were insane at the time of the killing. Evidence of BWS may be offered to substantiate the claims of self-defense and insanity.
The Claim of Self-Defense V. Conclusion Introduction Battered woman syndrome has been used as a defense in criminal cases since the late s.
However, its introduction to support claims of self-defense and insanity in cases of spousal homicide raises many empirical, normative, and legal questions. In addition, some behavioral science research questions the underlying empirical research used to support the claim that a specific, identifiable syndrome affects women who have been subjected to continuous physical abuse by their intimate partners.
This research paper will examine the use of BWS in cases of spousal homicide by considering: It will also include recently separated partners as well as divorced partners.
Definition of Battered Woman Syndrome Battered Woman Syndrome is associated with the pioneering research of feminist psychologist and researcher Dr. Theories on battered womens syndrome introduced the term in her book The Battered Woman, based on her initial findings from a nonrandom sample of predominantly white and middle-class battered women who had contacted social service agencies.
On the basis of her research, Walker advanced a psychological theory of the process of victimization of battered women. She posited that not all battered women develop BWS. Rather, the syndrome refers to women who have been, on at least two occasions, the victim of physical, sexual, or serious psychological symptoms by a man with whom they have had an intimate relationship.
Walker identified BWS as comprising two distinct components: The cycle of violence refers to a three-stage, repetitive cycle that occurs in battering relationships.
The first stage is the tension-building stage, which consists of a gradual buildup of minor abusive incidents largely verbal and psychological abuse in which women attempt to placate the batterer. This stage is eventually followed by an acute battering stage, in which the severity of the abuse increases and women are subjected to a violent battering incident.
Following the acute battering stage is a calm, loving, contrite stage in which the batterer apologizes for his behavior.
Walker identified this third phase as the one that most victimizes women psychologically, because inevitably the cycle of violence recurs. Battered women become demoralized as they realize that the batterer has once again fooled them into believing that he will change.
Although Walker did not hypothesize a specific time frame to define the cycles or the phases within it, she argued that the cycle is eventually repeated, and over time the violence escalates in both severity and frequency. Learned helplessness explains the psychological paralysis that Walker argued prevents some women from leaving their batterers.
Over time, as the violence escalates, women begin to live in a constant state of fear, believing that there is no escape from their situation. Battered women believe that there is no way for them to prevent the violence; therefore, they simply give up and accept the abuse, or in some cases, resort to violence and kill their batterers to free themselves from the abuse.
Battered Woman Syndrome as a Form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After Walker published her research, some empirical data emerged that cast doubt on her explanation of why women kill their batterers.
More specifically, some research indicated that victims of abuse often contact other family members and seek the assistance of the legal system for help as the violence from their batterers escalates. This research also indicated that when battered women sought outside help, they were confronted with insufficient help sources, a legal system that did not address their issues, and societal indifference.
Instead, the theory focuses on the psychological disturbance that an individual suffers after exposure to a traumatic event. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event, as well as the following symptoms: In individuals suffering from PTSD, the traumatic event is a dominant psychological experience that evokes panic, terror, dread, grief, or despair.
Flashbacks of battering incidents are examples of intrusive recollection symptoms that battered women may display.
These strategies can be behavioral e. The hyperarousal symptoms closely resemble those seen in panic and generalized anxiety disorders; however, hypervigilance and startle responses are unique to PTSD.
These feelings can become so intense that victims appear paranoid, and it is claimed that battered women, suffering from PTSD, may become convinced that the batterer will kill them at any time. In the case of spousal homicide, defense counsel may introduce evidence attempting to prove that the battered woman defendant displays the symptoms of PTSD and that these symptoms are a result of the repeated battering that she experienced from her partner.
Researchers indicate that while some women who experience continuous battering may experience the symptoms that are diagnosed as PTSD, others do not.In this latest edition of her groundbreaking book, Dr. Lenore Walker has provided a thorough update to her original findings in the field of domestic abuse.
Each chapter has been expanded to include new research. The volume contains the latest on the impact of exposure to violence on children, marital rape, child abuse, personality characteristics . Battered Women's Syndrome: A Survey of Contemporary Theories Domestic Violence In , Governor William Weld modified parole regulations and permitted women to seek commutation if they could present evidence indicating they suffered from battered women's syndrome.
Battered woman syndrome (BWS), first proposed in the s after research demonstrated the psychological impact from domestic violence on the victim, has undergone further clarification since its . This article investigates how the social work literature has been affected by new theories of domestic violence and analyzes the impact that these theories have had on practice with battered women.
In the s, wife abuse became a concern of sociologists, feminists, and family theorists. Home» Psych Central Professional» Battered Woman Syndrome: Key Elements of a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan Battered Woman Syndrome: Key Elements of a .
The critique that follows derives from the view that syndrome language generally, and battered woman syndrome more specifically, is inadequate to the task of describing battered women's experience, whether for purposes of expert testimony, counseling, or .