The Battered Woman Syndrome and Criminal Law Essay

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The purpose of this research paper is to prove that criminal law in America has failed to provide a defense that adequately protects women suffering from Battered Women's Syndrome. Battered Women's Syndrome, or BWS, is a very complex psychological problem facing criminal courts today and has caused great debate on whether or not it should even be allowed in the courtroom. Although the syndrome has been given more consideration as a warranted issue by society, those who create our laws and control our courtrooms, have not developed a defense that sufficiently protects these women. United States courtrooms, instead of protecting battered women, have put these women on trial and found them guilty of murder.

The research is divided
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This new issue led Del Martin to publish Battered Wives in 1976, the first piece written about battered women in the U.S. Although the research on battered women had just begun, many American courtrooms began dealing with these relatively new cases involving women as early as 1977. The famous case of State v. Wanrow (1977), resulted in the Washington State Supreme Court declaring the need for a more gender-based self-defense test. This case led to a greater approval of battered women's issues among the public and sparked renewed interest in psychological research (Downs pg. 77).

Battered Women's Syndrome, although originating in part from the oppression of women, was initially developed by psychologists to help explain the behavior of women who were exposed to frequent and continuous abuse. The most highly recognized in the field of BWS, is psychologist Dr. Lenore Walker. Walker has dedicated most of her life to studying battered women and their victimization. Using the psychological theory of "learned helplessness," Dr. Walker came up with her own hypothesis to explain why battered women behave the way they do (Dubin pg. 9). Walker's findings resulted in the theory known as the "cycle of violence" (Downs pg. 76). The cycle portrays three distinct phases in which battered women go through with their abusers. Phase One is known as the "tension building phase." In this phase
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