An introduction to the issue of battered womens syndrome and the theories of domestic violence

Share Battered Women defined: Battered women are those individuals who suffer from battered woman syndrome. This classification, which is used in the court of law to demonstrate a relationship of perpetual violence.

An introduction to the issue of battered womens syndrome and the theories of domestic violence

The George Washington University Introduction Although widely misunderstood even among legal professionals, "battered woman syndrome" is not a legal defense. It is one approach to explaining battered women's experiences. Review of the concept battered woman syndrome The concept of battered woman syndrome has evolved from its inception in the late 's.

Initially, it was conceptualized as "learned helplessness," a condition used to explain a victim's inability to protect herself against the batterer's violence that developed following repeated, but failed, efforts to do so Walker, Another early formulation of battered woman syndrome referred to the the cycle of violence Walker,a theory that describes the dynamics of the batterer's behavior.

The cycle of violence theory can be used to explain how battered victims are drawn back into the relationship when the abuser is contrite and attentive following the violence.

More recently, battered woman syndrome has been defined as post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD Walker,a psychological condition that results from exposure to severe trauma.

Among other things, PTSD can explain why a battered victim may react, because of flashbacks and other intrusive experiences resulting from prior victimization, to a new situation as dangerous, even when it is not. In the courtroom, expert testimony concerning domestic violence can be offered for various purposes: Statutes and case law vary from state to state and across federal jurisdictions; in some, this testimony is referred to as "battered woman syndrome.

Critique of the concept "battered woman syndrome" There has been a great deal of progress in the admissibility of expert testimony in criminal cases involving battered victims under the rubric of "battered woman syndrome. There are a number of concerns that suggest the need for a reformulation of this model.

Five such points are described below. There is no single profile of a battered woman. One advantage of a short-hand label is ease of communication. The disadvantage is related: Further, the stereotypic image of "battered woman syndrome" is often clouded by other stereotypes such as those based on race, culture, social class, and sexual orientation, for example.

There is no single profile of the effects of battering although "battered woman syndrome" suggests that the psychological impact of battering is defined by a common set of symptoms.

Nevertheless, battered women's reactions to violence and abuse vary; they include emotional reactions e. A particular battered woman's reactions may or may not meet criteria to warrant a clinical diagnosis. Variations in women's traumatic response to battering are based on characteristics of 1 the violence and abuse, 2 the battered victim, and 3 the context or environment in which battering occurs and in which the battered woman must respond to and heal from it, e.

The term "battered woman syndrome" is vague. There is no clearly defined set of criteria to define "battered woman syndrome.


Further, other reactions to battering that are relevant to pending legal or other issues may be excluded from consideration. Alternatively, if the term is used more broadly to refer to a range of psychological reactions to battering, as it often is in actual testimony by experts, then its diagnostic utility is lost since there is no clearly defined criteria for inclusion.

In this case, the question of whether a battered woman "suffers" from battered woman syndrome is not an appropriate question: Posttraumatic stress disorder, compared to other psychological reactions to battering, is not uniquely relevant for understanding legal or other domestic violence-related issues.

PSTD can result from exposure to domestic violence and it may be relevant for explaining a victim's fear or other behavior in a specific situation.

However, there is no basis to suggest that PTSD has exclusive or even greater relevance, for either legal or clinical issues, than do other types of psychological reactions to battering. Importantly, the absence of PTSD does not signal the lack of other posttraumatic stress reactions nor does it negate the reasonableness of a battered woman's fear.

To the contrary, posttraumatic reactions leading to diagnoses other than PTSD e. For example, understanding the battered woman's appraisal of specific batterer behavior as threatening is typically more relevant both for addressing specific legal issues and for victim advocacy than merely whether or not she meets diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

As well, victim's depression or suicidal thoughts as a reaction to battering may be more salient for addressing victim's current safety or for understanding her previous actions. The relevant information relied upon for expert testimony in legal cases, advocacy, and clinical interventions involving battered victims extends beyond the psychological effects of battering.

The various purposes of expert testimony see "Review" aboveadvocacy, and clinincal intervention typically require information in addition to the battered victim's psychological reactions to battering. This information includes 1 an analysis of the dynamics of violence and abuse, 2 the battered victim's strategic responses to violence i.

The body of knowledge that forms the foundation of expert testimony, advocacy, or clinical intervention cannot be adequately defined by a single construct or diagnosis, including battered woman syndrome.

The term "battered woman syndrome" creates an image of pathology. Battered woman syndrome language creates a stereotyped image of pathology.

A woman characterized as suffering from battered woman syndrome may be viewed as flawed, damaged, disordered, or abnormal in some way.

Battered Woman Syndrome - FindLaw

Although it is true that many battered victims suffer negative effects of battering, syndrome language necessarily places the emphasis on pathology, not on the whole picture that also includes the battered woman's strengths and efforts, as well as other's responses to the situation. Notably, a battered victim's normal reaction of fear or anger can be the most important issue for explaining her state of mind at the time of an alleged crime or for understanding her motivation for other behavior.

Further, it may be essential to explain the apparent absence of fear, for example, by considering how cultural factors influence the manner of emotional expression. An expert witnesses' attempt to refocus attention away from pathology after having invoked the concept "battered woman syndrome" can be confusing and appears contradictory.Linh Nguyen Race & Law Prof TA december 11, Domestic Violence against Women Domestic violence is a big social issue in the United States today, as well as all over the world.

Domestic violence can be between sibling abuse, elder abuse, spouse abuse, and of course child abuse. Battered woman syndrome is a formal defense, undertaken by a woman in a criminal trial regarding perpetual domestic or common abuse.

To understand battered woman’s syndrome, you must first understand how a victim becomes a “battered woman.”. FOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL STAGES OF THE BATTERED WOMAN SYNDROME DENIAL The woman refuses to admit--even to herself--that she has been beaten or that there is a "problem" in her marriage.

Nov 06,  · Introduction. The APA Task Force on Violence and the Family defined domestic violence as pattern of abusive behaviors including a wide range of physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment used by one person in an intimate relationship against another to gain power unfairly or maintain that person’s misuse of power, control, and authority.

Battered Women’s Syndrome: Origins, Theory, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These decisive acts brought the issue of domestic abuse to the public’s attention and left many Massachusetts residents, lawyers and judges struggling to define battered women’s syndrome.

Although there are many different theories of battered women’s.

An introduction to the issue of battered womens syndrome and the theories of domestic violence

However, in domestic violence cases the "courts have focused on a syndrome model to the exclusion of other research that, though less legally convenient, more accurately depicts the social and psychological consequences of domestic violence" (Schuller & Hastings, in press).

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