What Is Battered Wife Syndrome?
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.
Signs of Battered Wife Syndrome
An individual suffering from battered woman syndrome can exhibit the following symptoms:
- Hiding his or her abuse from friends, family, and coworkers;
- Harboring guilt that the abuse is his or her fault;
- Anxiety around his or her partner or at the prospect of being around his or her partner;
- Bruises he or she cannot or will not explain;
- Believing his or her partner is perfect or all-knowing;
- Extreme personality changes; and
- Fear for his or her life as well as his or her children’s lives.
Getting Help When You Face Domestic Violence
Search for domestic violence shelters in your area. They can help you create an escape plan that gets you and your children or pets out of your home quickly and safely.
If you fear for your safety after leaving your partner, you can protect yourself with an Order of Protection (OOP). An order of protection is a court order that prohibits an abuser from taking certain actions, such as contacting the victim and owning firearms.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
If you find yourself experiencing battered woman syndrome, get help. Work with an experienced mental health care professional who can provide the treatment you need to work through the challenges you face. While you focus on your mental health with a counselor, work with an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer who can focus on ending your marriage. Contact Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-206-3300 today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office.