Battered Women’s Syndrome
From Child Abuse, To Domestic Violence, To Prison!
I believe to truly understand and appreciate why a woman stays in a marriage or relationship that is violent, one would need a little insight on the events that took place in her life that landed her in that kind of relationship in the first place.
To understand battered woman's syndrome, one must first understand how someone becomes a "battered woman". According to Dr. Lenore E. Walker, the nation's most prominent expert on battered women, a woman must experience at least two complete battering cycles before she can be labeled a "battered woman". The cycle has three distinct phases. First is the tension-building phase, followed by the explosion or acute battering incident, culminating in calm, loving respite - often referred to as the honeymoon phase. Walker, L., The Battered Woman (1979).
It is also important to understand why battered women stay in abusive relationships. The Court in People v. Aris, 215 Cal App 3d 1194, 264 Cal Rptr 167, 178 (1989) stated that "battered women tend to stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons." Among those reasons: women are still positively reinforced during the honeymoon phase; women tend to be the peacekeepers in relationships - the ones responsible for making the marriage work; adverse economic consequences; it is more dangerous to leave than to stay; prior threats by batterer to kill self, or children; or to abscond with children; lost self-esteem; and no psychological energy to leave - resulting in a learned helplessness or psychological paralysis.
"Battered woman syndrome describes a pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships."
There are four general characteristics of the syndrome:
1. She believes that the violence was her fault.
2. She has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence on anyone but herself
3. She fears for her life and/or her children's...