Battered Women’s Syndrome

Domestic violence is always in the news, especially when the abused woman kills the abuser. When the abused woman kills the abuser, it is referred to as battered women’s syndrome. This is a type of post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. According to Lenore E. Walker, battered women’s syndrome has been defined as a condition in which the victim internalizes the blame for the violence she is feeling–after repeated assaults–that escape is impossible, and financially and economically disastrous, psychologically devastating, and physically impossible. So the victim often becomes passive, self-blaming, submissive, “forgiving,” and even “helpless,” until she reacts one day with fear, trembling, and unexpected force. Three battered women give their experiences here.


Battered Women’s Syndrome develops as the relationship progress. Generally it develops in three stages: 1) verbal and minor physical abuse that start out infrequently but increases as time goes by 2) actual abuse that causes serious physical injury that requires medical care and 3) the abusers makes the abused submissive and passive towards further abuse.


A woman suffering from BWS will generally display lack of enthusiasm for activities which she was enthusiastic about in the past. The woman will generally display a feeling of apathy. Some women make take to alcohol or drug abuse, the attitude towards their abusers changes. The BWS is one of the predictable psychological effects of domestic violence.

The Law

Most states recognize BWS. BWS is often used in self defense by women who kill their abuser. For a legal point of view, BWS is a mitigating circumstance.

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