Battered wife syndrome, also known as battered woman syndrome, does not only affect women. It can affect any domestic violence victim, male or female, who lives with an abusive partner. Domestic violence knows no gender.
Despite the law and the medical community recognizing that a person of any gender can perpetuate and suffer domestic violence, the term “battered woman syndrome” is still frequently used to describe the psychological effects domestic violence can have on a victim.
The Stages of Battered Wife Syndrome
When an individual faces domestic violence, he or she can internalize it and feel like he or she caused it to happen. This internalization and sense of responsibility for the violence is battered wife syndrome. Generally, it follows this pattern:
- Denial. The victim refuses to accept that he or she is being abused;
- Guilt. The victim recognizes the abuse and feels he or she caused it;
- Enlightenment. When the victim realizes he or she did not cause the violence to happen, he or she is in the enlightenment stage; and
- Responsibility. In this stage, the victim recognizes that only his or her abuser is responsible for the violence. This is where the victim leaves the relationship.
Not all victims make it to the enlightenment stage. Many stay in the guilt stage, feeling like they caused their abuse to happen and trying to be better partners to make the violence stop....