Battered Woman’s Syndrome By: Madison Marisi and Marielle Brenner
What is Battered Woman’s Syndrome?
Battered Woman’s Syndrome is a subcategory of post traumatic stress disorder. It is found in women who suffer from severe physical and emotional abuse, generally from a partner. It is not currently recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). This is because it is not an illness but a theory that draws upon the principles of learned helplessness.
Most victims of Battered Woman’s Syndrome become depressed and are unable to take any independent action that would allow her to escape the abuse. Sufferers have low self esteem and often believe the abuse is their fault.Often they will seek comfort from their abusers shortly after an incident of abuse.
Why do Victims Stay?
･ Fear of the abuser ･ Love ･ Threats to harm the victim, loved ones or pets ･ Threats of suicide ･ Believing the abuser will take their children ･ Religious reasons ･ Believing the abuser will change ･ Self-blame ･ Limited financial options ･ Believing that violence is normal ･ Believing in the sanctity of marriage and the family ･ Limited housing options ･ Blaming the abuse on alcohol, financial pressures, or other outside factors ･ Low self-esteem ･ Fear of the unknown, of change ･ Isolation ･ Embarrassment and shame ･ Believing no one can help ･ Cultural beliefs ･ Denial; and ･ Pressure from friends and family to stay.
The battered woman needs to know that no matter what she did no one deserves to be abused. What happened wasn’t her fault and she should not blame herself.She needs to feel safe and rebuild her self-esteem. Therapy should emphasize the woman’s strengths so that she trusts herself and others again
Lorena Bobbitt’s Story
In June 1993, 24-year-old Lorena Bobbitt became known as the woman who cut off her husband's penis with a carving knife.On the night of the infamous assault, Lorena says her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, came home drunk and sexually assaulted her. Later that night, Lorena went into the kitchen, picked up a knife and returned to the bedroom to cut off her sleeping husband's penis. Then, she got into her car and started driving. Somewhere along the dark highway, she rolled down the window and threw his penis onto the side of the road. Lorena's defense team argued temporary insanity and claimed she was the victim of long-term physical and emotional abuse. "In her mind, it was his penis from which she could not escape which caused her the most pain. The most fear. The most humiliation," Lorena's lawyer said.During the trial, Lorena also testified that she didn't remember cutting off John's penis. Eventually, the jury found Lorena not guilty by reason of insanity. This is an important case because it brought the seriousness of battered woman’s syndrome to the public’s attention
Lorena Bobbit’s Story
Thanks to therapy, Lorena says she was able to break the cycle of abuse and get to a better place in her life. Talking about what happened is also therapeutic, she says. "They said once you start talking about things, you start healing."
Click to see a video of Lorena Bobbitt’s Trial
In 2005, 389,100 women and 78,180 men were victimized by an intimate partner.
One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
There are no clear statistics on how many woman fall into other abusive relationships.