Battered Woman Syndrome

The Battered Woman Syndrome (also known as Battered Person Syndrome, because men can also be abused by their spouse) is a physical and psychological condition of a person who has suffered - usually persistent - emotional, physical or sexual abuse from another person.

Battered Woman Syndrome can best be seen as form of the better known Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is in itself is an Anxiety Disorder.[1]
Like a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms of Battered Woman Syndrome usually consists of (1) re-experiencing the battering as if it were recurring even when it is not, (2) attempts to avoid the psychological impact of battering by avoiding activities, people, and emotions, (3) hyperarousal or hypervigilance, (4) disrupted interpersonal relationships, (5) body image distortion or other somatic concerns, and (6) sexuality and intimacy issues.

Additionally, the repeated cycles of violence and reconciliation can result in the following beliefs and attitudes: (1) The abused thinks that the violence was his or her fault, (2) The abused has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere, (3) The abused fears for their life and/or the lives of their children (if present) and (4) The abused has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.

The condition is the basis for the often rather successful battered woman defense that has been used in cases of physically and psychologically abused women who have killed their abusers.

Men should therefore always remember that there is no place for violence in a loving relationship.

[1] Roth, Coles: Battered woman syndrome: a conceptual analysis of its status vis-à-vis DSM IV mental disorders in Medicine and Law - 1995

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