Battered Woman Syndrome: Self-Defense Plea Essay

1493 Words6 Pages
There are many cases where self- defense has been used as a plea where the victim felt they were in harms’ way or unable to escape a specific situation that ended badly. The definition for self- defense is: 1. Defense of oneself when physically attacked 2. Defense of what belongs to oneself, as ones work or reputation 3. (Law) the right to protect oneself against violence or threatened violence with whatever force or means reasonable or necessary. According to an expert on battered women, a woman must experience at least two complete battering cycles before being labeled a battered woman. (Walker) According to Dowd, “he believes the proper use of BWS assists the fact finder to understand the state of mind of the battered woman at the time…show more content…
Given, there is no true way to diagnose battered woman syndrome. It is a name given by a doctor who has encountered several women facing problems due to abuse in their homes. A woman facing chronic abuse would be safer using a PTSD plea. “This is not to say that a woman cannot be assessed for medical signs of physical trauma, however these physical signs are non-definitive of BWS, and could have occurred at any given moment.” (Dixon) There are several arguments that BWS does not exist. Some try to use BWS as a mental illness or an insanity plea. Clinical expertise use specific signs and symptoms to verify situations of abuse. These same signs and symptoms are visible in many given situations and not only those pertaining to BWS. In a study done on learned helplessness there was no sudden rage or aggression from the caged animals. So, why do these women claim that their helplessness caused them to harm another. “Further, and more importantly, there has never been any experiment demonstrating the phenomenon of learned helplessness in human beings. So, the entire argument for learned helplessness in battered women is pure conjecture, without any empirical support.” (Dixon) Society cannot sit here and say that all women who are in abusive relationships suffer from BWS. This is a syndrome a woman acquires after many traumatizing experiences happen in her life. There was a study done by Martin Seligman on learned helplessness.
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