Essay on Moral Implications of the Battered Woman Syndrome

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Moral Implications of the Battered Woman Syndrome

The Battered Woman Syndrome, like the Cycle Theory of Violence, helps to illuminate the situation of the person victimized by domestic violence. However, it may also contribute to the violence of the battering situation. In this paper, I explore some of the implications of the Battered Woman Syndrome for domestic violence cases wherein an abused woman kills her abuser. I begin by delineating some of the circumstances of a domestic violence situation. I then discuss the particular moral issue of subjectivity or moral personhood involved in instances wherein a woman victimized by domestic violence responds by killing her batterer. Finally, I argue that the Battered Woman Syndrome and
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I then discuss the particular moral issue of subjectivity or moral personhood involved in instances wherein a woman victimized by domestic violence responds by killing her batterer. Finally, I argue that the battered woman syndrome and similar alternatives to or qualifications of self-defense are problematic because they strip a woman of her moral subjectivity. I conclude with a brief articulation of a proposal for reform of the criminal justice system specifically aimed at cases wherein there has been a long history of abuse or violence.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined as violence among intimates. It raises problems for our moral and legal systems in that it is often characterized by a loving partnership wherein one or both of the partners commits a violent crime against the other partner. (1) The Cycle Theory of Violence, articulated by Lenore Walker, helps to clarify domestic violence and says that abuse tends to occur according to a particular pattern. There are three basic stages to this pattern. The first stage is characterized by tension between the pair. During this tension building stage, relatively minor incidents increase the tension in the relationship and culminate in the eruption of violence.

The next stage in the cycle of violence is the violent incident. The violence may be short lived or last for a few days. Often it is at this stage that police are notified or legal proceedings begun.

The third stage is referred to as the