The Battered Women Syndrome

The Battered Women Syndrome is a result of episodic domestic violence. The violence can be physical, mental or both. As a result of the violence and the intimidation, the person suffering from the syndrome is not able to escape from it.

The BWS is a concept developed by Dr. L. Walker. It describes the emotional state and the mindset of a battered woman at each stage she is going through.

BWS is a specific case of anxiety disorder, more precisely, it is a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

The characteristics of the Battered Women Syndrome

A battered woman is a woman having experienced two or more battering cycles with the same partner.

  • The woman believes that the violence was or is her fault
  • The woman has an inability to place responsibility for the violence elsewhere
  • The woman fears for her life and/or her children's lives
  • The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient
  • The "making-up" phase of the battering cycle makes her still believe the battering will stop
  • Economic dependence
  • Fear of the dangerous consequences if she were to leave
  • She is threatened by the abuser to hurt her or her children if she left

Battered women stay in the relationship for numerous reasons. Here are the most common:

Stages of the Battered Women Syndrome

1. Denial

In the denial phase, the woman is undergoing the domestic violence but she does not recognize the recurring pattern. After an episode of violence, things turn back to normal. After a while, another episode of violence starts. They battered women finds an excuse for her partner to mistreat her and she is convinced that it will not happen again.

2. Guilt

Now the woman understands that there is a pattern of violence. However, she takes the blame. They think they did something wrong and they try to live to the expectations of their partner. Of course, they will never be able to.

3. Enlightment

In stage 3 the battered woman realizes that it is not good being beaten or violated in another way and that she does not deserve it. She understands that her partner has a serious problem. However, she is not able to do anything about it yet. She keeps on hoping that the relationship will improve and that they can stay together.

4. Responsibility

Finally the battered woman understands that he needs help and that she cannot help him. She takes action and leaves the abusing partner, together with her children.

Children of Battered Women

Children should be sheltered from domestic violence as much and as early as possible. When they are disposed to domestic violence against their mother, negative effects kick in.

Women suffering from the Battered Women Syndrome unconsiously harm their children because it takes quite a while before they leave their abusing partner. Hence it is important that the syndrome is diagnostized as soon as possible and to break the loop of violence.

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