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NCJ Number: 97507 Find in a Library
Title: Battered Wife Syndrome - A Backdoor Assault on Domestic Violence
Journal: Social Action and the Law  Volume:10  Issue:3  Dated:(1985)  Pages:63-70
Author(s): M A Buda; T L Butler
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses spouse murders, describes the use of the 'battered wife syndrome' as a defense, and highlights the mixed success of that defense.
Abstract: Domestic violence in the United States is addressed, with a focus on battered wives who resort to murder to escape their abuse. Simplistic conclusions about the motives of female offenders are refuted; the tradition of marital privacy is analyzed. Changes which have occurred in the legal status of women are characterized; States' failures to make it a crime for husbands to assault their wives are emphasized. The 'hands-off' stance taken by law enforcement officials confronted by abused wives is explored. The three-stage cycle of hostility and violence depicted by the battered wife syndrome theory is described. The reduction of murder to manslaughter under the 'reasonable man' standard is detailed. Also examined is the use of the self-defense doctrine to successfully defend a battered woman charged with murdering her husband. The assimilation of female perceptions into the elements of self-defense is described, and the concept of equal protection for battered women is addressed. Finally, courts that support the admissibility of battered wife syndrome testimony are identified, with recent decisions highlighted. The battered wife syndrome is shown to exist as one of the few evidentiary avenues to justice for battered women; the need for legally enforceable means to be developed by which battered women can escape abuse is emphasized. One photograph is included.
Index Term(s): Abused women; Abusing spouses; Battered wives; Murder; US Supreme Court decisions
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