skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


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
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.