What is Battered Woman Syndrome?
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.” According to various experts on battered women, a woman must experience at least two cycles before she can be labeled, in a criminal defense trial, as a “battered woman.”
The cycle has three specific phases: First, the couple or woman involved in a relationship must go through a tension-building phase; this stage is followed by the administration of an acute or explosive battering incident.
Ultimately the second phase of the battered woman cycle culminates in a loving respite, known as the honeymoon phase. This cycle is constant for a battered woman; as one can acknowledge the drastic displays of emotion and the resolve after the violent or hurtful incident pinpoints a severely unhealthy relationship.
This cycle reveals one of the most signifying characteristics of the battered woman syndrome; no matter how bad the explosive act is, in regards to violence or emotional damage, the woman tends to stay in the abusive relationship for an extended period of time.
General Characteristics of the Battered Woman Syndrome:
The woman believes that the violence inflicted is her fault.
The woman is incapable of placing the responsibility for the violent actions elsewhere.
The woman perpetually fears for her life and the life/lives of her children.
The woman has an irrational belief that the abusive party is omniscient and omnipresent.
Why do Battered Women stay in an Abusive Relationship?
As stated before, the battered woman syndrome is a legal and psychological classification, often used in a criminal court matter. The Court in people v. Aris, a landmark court case that further defined the battered woman syndrome, stated that, “battered women tend to stay in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons.”
Among those reasons, women are positively reinforced during the honeymoon phase; the husband or male will perpetually try to make-up for his abusive actions by tantalizing the woman with kind words, gifts or the promise of some form of security. The female partner will also tend to be the peacekeeper in the relationship or the one who makes the marriage work; through this role, the battered woman will do everything in her power to save the relationship, even if at the expense of her mental or physical health.
Adverse economic consequences is also a reason why those with battered woman syndrome stay in their abusive relationships; married couples, through tax breaks and benefits, are awarded numerous tax breaks that would not be realized in a separate filing. Furthermore, in many relationships the male is the so-called “breadwinner” which places the woman in, some cases, a financial handcuff on the individual.
Other victims of battered woman syndrome will find it more dangerous to leave the abusive relationship than to stay in it. Perhaps the most common reason why an individual with battered woman syndrome stays in an abusive relationship is because of the presence of children; victims, often times, sacrifice their health for the sake of their children growing up with both parents.