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BATTERED WOMEN'S SYNDROME: FICTION OR REALITY.
To understand battered woman's syndrome one has to know why and how one becomes a “battered woman.” For a woman to be labeled battered woman has to undergo two complete battering cycles which has three different stages. The stages begins with tension-building, followed by explosion which also known as acute battering incident and then culminating in a calm, loving interval which is known as the honeymoon stage. Battered woman stays in insulting relationship because women are resistant during honeymoon stage and they tend to be peacekeepers in a relationship and they are responsible for marriage work, unfavorable economic costs and it's more dangerous to leave than staying before threats by batterer to kill her or the children and this result to psychological paralysis.
According to Tennant, 2001 battered woman syndrome is a psychological and behavioral pattern which is a symptom in those women living in rough treatment relationships. There are various characteristics of the syndrome such as woman believing that it was her fault for the violence to happen, she is unable to put the responsibility of the violence elsewhere, she fears for her life and for her children's and she has an illogical belief that, the abuser is omniscient and omnipresent. This syndrome can be more of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder rather than being just a mental illness (Tennant). Most women who experience domestic violence suffer from battered women syndrome and they have to undergo two cycles; cycle of abusive which involves repeated abuse which can be either generational or episodic whereby generational is passed down by exposure from parents to children and episodic is a repeated pattern in which two people in the family are involved either child abuse, spousal abuse or elder abuse. (McMahon, 23)
O'Donovan, 1991 stated that, stages for battered woman syndrome includes; Denial stage which occurs when a woman denies to her or to others that there is a problem, they have excuses why their partners have an abusive happenings and they generally believe the abusiveness will happen again. Stage two is guilt and the woman acknowledges that in their relationship there is a problem and recognizes she is an abuse victim and she blames herself for the incidents and she begins to question her character and she will try to live up with her partner. Stage three is enlightenment, this begins when the woman begins to understand that no one deserves a beat and the beatings she receives are not necessary and then comes to realize that her partner has a problem and she then stays in the relationship with future hopes for a change. Stage four comes when the woman realizes that her abuser has a fixable problem and she realizes that there is nothing they can do to assist him and then she decides to take another step of leaving the spouse and starts a new live. (O'Donovan, 219)
US Department of Justice, 1996 outlined that, there have been a battered women defense which is a legal defense for the assaulted or murdered people who was suffering from battered person syndrome and the defense is invoked by women. Battered women syndrome is as a result of legal advocacy and it owes the existence of legal advocates needs to support and rationalize claims from the battered women. Battered women syndrome has been used in a diverse assorted cases ranging from ideal self-defense case to the more narrative prosecutorial syndrome use. Courts use the relevance of the syndrome to back up honesty of women's belief in use of deadly force for her mental incapacity for establishment of a necessary mental objective. Battered women syndrome has been employed in criminal cases and experts have to qualify to testify about the syndrome. (US Department of Justice)
According to McMahon, 1999 battered women syndrome has been misunderstood even by legal expertise and it's not a legal defense but its effects and expert testimony are employed in getting legal system to assist judges understand the experience of a battered woman. Some beliefs show that, battered women syndrome is a fact and others show is a fiction and the fact ones are powerful for they influence the way a battered woman, family and friends encounter and the general public respond to the various instances of battering (McMahon, 25). Battered women syndrome fiction beliefs that, battered women hate and they have to learn that not all men are bad but according to the fact they don't hate men they hate being battered. Man's home is his castle and it shouldn't be interfered with but the fact is battery is an offense and no one has the right to beat or abuse another. Woman's beating comes as a result of provoking or nagging her spouse but the fact remains that, people are beaten for a reason and people have no right to violently express their anger. A person still stays with her abuser even after being battered likes being beaten. Beating hurts and no one is fond of being beaten but a woman may decide to continues staying with her abuser due to the fear of further violence, because of religious reasons, financial hardships, emotional attachments and family beliefs that they should stay together. (McMahon, 26)
In addition, there has been a fiction that upper and middle class women don't often experience battering like poor women but the fact is that, domestic violence can happen in any socio-economic levels for the rich women are accessible to resources and the poor women make use of the community agencies and they are more visible. Once a battered woman, always a battered woman, this is false belief which has been with people but the fact is that, whereas some battered women have been in one or more abusive relationship, those women who experience domestic violence are least likely to enter to another abusive relationship. Battered women syndrome claims that, battered women have psychological trauma and they are responsible for the violence and men and women should be all accountable for their violence actions. (McMahon, 30)
According to O'Donovan, 1991 lawyers and judges are indebted to become better consumers of knowledge because battered women syndrome have been originally put in place of disappointment, aggravation, and sometimes anger over domestic violence. Domestic violence worldwide is very real, and an epidemic extent according to reports. Battered women syndrome has been a psychological-styled diagnosis whereby it's a woman's ill health provoked by husbands battering and the defense for the syndrome now spins around her ironically alleged helplessness and mental deficiency. Battered women syndrome lacks a scientific and reliable technical base and this make it to fall under disuse. (O'Donovan, 225)
In today's world many women are beaten by their spouse or boyfriends and several violent cases have been reported. Battery causes injuries to women more than even rape, because many miscarriages happen as a result of battery than medical situations and many women die from battery. The battering effects vary and the psychological impact is defined using a general symptoms and women who are battered react differently to violence and these responses may be emotional through fear, sadness and anger, beliefs and attitude changes towards others and they have psychological dysfunction or distress. Women's response to battery is based on violence and abuse, context and environment in which the woman should respond and heal from and who is the battery victim. (Tennant)
As argued by McMahon, 1999 women with battered women syndrome are viewed as flawed, disordered, damaged or abnormal in a way. Despite the fact that many battered victims have negative impacts from the act, the syndrome language makes women battered syndrome in a pathology. Medical conditions of battered victims are not gender specific like the law which is bias in self-defense. Domestic violence results to physical abuse and the depressed is not able to take independent measures which enables him/her to escape the violence. This is the reason why many people doesn't seek assistance, leave the abuser or fight the abuser but they can use force to protect themselves and they may end up killing their abuser due to the life threatening situations and the abusiveness.
Battered women syndrome is considered as a form of post traumatic stress disorder which is recognized as a psychological condition which describes a constant domestic violence victim and for one to be categorized as battered has to undergo through two cycles and the stages of the syndrome. Battered women syndrome is a fact for many have experienced it through domestic violence and even the law has dealt with such cases.
McMahon, Mark, “Battered Women and Bad Science: The Limited Validity and Utility
of Battered Woman Syndrome.” Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, Vol.6, No. 1,
pp. 23-49, 1999
O'Donovan, Katherine, “Defense for Battered Women Who Kill,” Journal of Law and
Society, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 219-240, summer, 1991
Tennant, Robert, Battered Women's Syndrome, 2001
US Department of Justice, The Validity and use of Evidence Concerning Battering and
Its Effects in Criminal Trials: Report Responding to Section 40507 of the
Violence Against Women Act, May, 1996