Let’s examine the legal implications of Battered Woman Syndrome. BWS was first proposed in the 1970’s. According to Joe Wheeler Dixon, PhD, JD BWS appears to be the product of legal advocacy and not science. BWS seems to owe its existence to the needs of legal advocates to support and justify claims by battered women who have killed (their batterers). The defense revolves around the woman’s mental deficiency and helplessness. Learned helplessness can be induced in lab animals, but no sudden rage or aggression.

So, a battered woman kills her abusing husband. She doesn’t do it during a beating, thereby being able to claim self defense; she probably can’t, he’s too strong. While he is awake and watching her, she suffers from learned helplessness; he has brainwashed her into thinking she is helpless and worthless. She perhaps she kills him in his sleep because that’s the only time she can overpower him.

This is where the battered woman syndrome came into play. Her defense claims it was a form of self defense. Where one might agree with that, the fact is she took a life. He received no trial for his crime. Perhaps she did what she felt she needed to do, but she must also take responsibility for her actions.

In court, expert testimonial regarding domestic violence can by used for various purposes: to demonstrate the defendant is a battered woman, to explain an abused woman’s state of mind and/or conduct or to support a claim or the validity of a particular defense. Experts have acknowledged that Battered Woman Syndrome is considered a subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but not a mental disease in the context of insanity.

According to Mary Ann Dutton, Ph.D.’s “Critique of the Battered Woman Syndrome” Expert testimonial concerning battering and its effects cannot adequately rely on a single construct such as Battered Woman Syndrome: the comprehensive body of existing knowledge cannot be so condensed. Instead focus should be on identifying the specific questions relevant to the issues at hand for which there is a body of knowledge to support a valid conclusion.

To read more on this subject please visit: Battered Woman Syndrome

Author's Bio: 

Su Ericksen is a first degree TaeKwonDo black belt and has taught self defense workshops. She lives in the Midwest with her family and works at a large medical center in the cardiology clinic. You may contact her through her website. Self Defense-4-Women.com