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Battered woman syndrome is regarded as a type of Post Traumatic Stress. Battered woman syndrome has been accepted as a psychological disorder, which describes the symptoms of a woman who has experienced prolonged and/or extreme domestic violence. A women has to endure at least two cycles of abuse to be diagnosed with battered woman syndrome

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The concept of battered woman syndrome was formulated by Dr. Lenore E. Walker, which explains the psychological state and frame of mind of a battered woman.

Battered woman syndrome cases

A cycle of abuse refers to abuse that has a repetitive pattern of occurrence. Abuse is recognized as being cyclical in generational and episodic ways. Generational cycles of abuse are learnt by children from their abusive parents who then become abusive. Episodic abuse refers to repeated acts of abuse between any two members of a family, such as child abuse, spousal abuse or elder abuse

A daughter who sees her mother verbally abuse her own father has increased risk to develop such habits; a son who has been abused by his father will engage in similar abuse towards his children and children who see their parents abuse one another, will probably behave in a similar manner with their spouses. These are examples of generational cycle of abuse.

Episodic cycle of abuse features several incidents of behaviors which eventually culminate in serious physical or verbal abuse. Individuals who experience episodic cycles of abuse are mostly in denial about such repetitive pattern of abuse.

Symptoms of battered woman syndrome

Some of the signs and symptoms of battered woman syndrome are listed below:

  • A patient of battered woman syndrome should have experienced at least two cycles of domestic violence.
  • The abuse cycle has 3 stages. The first stage is known as tension-creation stage. The second stage is called acute battering or explosion period and the third stage is known as the ‘honeymoon’ phase which features a loving and calm break from abuse. The cycle will then continuously recur.
  • The abused woman considers herself and her shortcomings to be the only cause of abuse and violence
  • The abused woman does have the ability to pass on the responsibility for violence and abuse onto some other reasons
  • The abused woman thinks that the abuser is omniscient or omnipresent
  • The abused woman is afraid for her own life as well as her children’s lives

Stages of battered woman syndrome

The four stages of battered woman syndrome are discussed below:

Stage I: Denial

  • When a woman with battered woman syndrome denies to herself as well as to others, that abuse or problems prevail, then she is said to be at the first stage of battered woman syndrome. Most women will try to find excuses or reasons for the abusive episode. Also, they have the firm belief that the abuse was a one-off incident.

Stage II: Guilt

  • Affected women come to realize the existence of abuse or problems in the relationship during stage II of battered woman syndrome. They acknowledge the fact that they have been victims of abuse and that they may experience the violence again in the future. In this stage, most women perceive themselves as the cause of the abuse and will work harder to live as per the expectations of their partners. They may also engage in self-analysis of one’s own character.

Stage III: Enlightenment

  • In the third stage of battered woman syndrome the abused woman will come to understand the fact that no one should experience the abuse. She may not be able to find any reasons to justify the violence meted out to her. The abuse woman may also realize that her partner has some serious problems. However, she persists with the relationship in the hope that it will improve in the future and that abuse will gradually stop.

Stage IV: Responsibility

  • A woman with battered woman syndrome is said to be the fourth stage of the disorder when she comes to the realization that only her partner can resolve the problems that plague him. Affected women also understand that they cannot do or say anything to change the partner’s abusive behavior or the situation. The women then take the decision to leave their violent partners and begin new lives.

Battered woman syndrome treatment

  • Leave the residence by any means possible and stay at your parents’, friends or relatives’ place. Women may take only the most necessary items while leaving so as to avoid giving signals of their departure.
  • The workplace and the employer has to be notified so that the partner cannot indulge in workplace harassment
  • Avoid giving in to the emotional and other tactics used by the abusive partner. If possible, get a restraining order and call the police for help when necessary
  • Consult a therapist to overcome the effects of battered woman syndrome
  • Improve one’s self esteem via therapy and other forms of support. This will aid in better understanding of oneself and one’s identity, which will facilitate better choices in the future
  • Supervise the children’s emotional health as well as academic achievements
  • Contact all the friends that were lost due to the violent behavior of the partner
  • Medications as per the advice of doctors also help.
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