Battered woman syndrome: a critical review.

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This article features a critical review of accumulated research and conceptual issues regarding Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS). BWS is recognized as important in providing legal defense to victims and as basis for diagnosis and treatment. However, there has been confusion as to the definition of BWS such as the use of violence committed against the woman as the defining characteristic. The study introduced by Walker demonstrated cycle of violence and learned helplessness to battered women. In addition, studies found out that BWS, manifested in a form of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, physical symptoms, is evident in some abused women putting them at risk of suicide and homicide. Symptoms attributed to battering may also be a result of stress from a troubled relationship. The Learned Helplessness and Grief Theory (Campbell, 1989) explains the depression in battered women. Moreover, researchers are in disagreement of the factors that affect the level of trauma such as frequency of abuse, educational status and severity of sexual and emotional abuse. The issue on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and learned helplessness in BWS remained unresolved. Some researchers view battered women in the context of "survivors rather than victims". Furthermore, studies prove that battered women may experience stages of abuse where the manifestations of BWS are part of the steps to conflict resolution. Basing on these descriptions and findings, it is made clear that not all battered women experience BWS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1, 4, 10-11
JournalViolence Update
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


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