The Dangers of Domestic Abuse and Battered Woman’s Syndrome

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. In addition, 1.3 million women are assaulted by an intimate partner each year. These staggering statistics reinforce how prevalent domestic violence is in the United States. The sad fact is that most victims of domestic violence are too scared and intimidated to speak out against their perpetrators for fear of what will happen once they do. Thus, domestic violence is a serious yet sensitive issue that must be handled very carefully.

Illinois has enacted the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 to help safeguard victims against domestic violence and to pursue criminal action against perpetrators. However, many victims are unaware of its power and continue to silently face domestic violence alone. The effects of long-term abuse can be extremely detrimental to a woman’s physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, it can lead to even worse ailments, such as battered women’s syndrome.

What is Battered Woman’s Syndrome?

Battered woman’s syndrome describes a victim’s psychiatric state after a victim has endured systematic physical and emotional abuse. It is a condition that has been identified as a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although the term refers to a woman, battered woman’s syndrome can manifest in any victim, man or woman, who has fallen victim to abuse by a partner. Typically women who experience battered woman’s syndrome exhibit the following characteristics:

  • The victim believes that the violence was their fault;
  • The victim has a hard time placing blame on the perpetrator;
  • The victim fears for their life and children’s lives; and
  • The victim idolizes the perpetrator.

Although it may be hard to understand how a victim of abuse is unable to place adequate blame on their abuser, battered woman’s syndrome helps explain why victims of domestic violence stay in their toxic relationship for so long and refuse to seek help. If left untreated, victims who suffer from battered woman’s syndrome may snap and be driven to attack or even kill their abuser. Incidentally, battered woman’s syndrome is sometimes used as a defense for when the victim of domestic violence assaults or kills their abuser. Therefore, it is essential that a victim of domestic abuse seek help right away in order to begin the healing process.

Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in Illinois

If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic abuse, it is imperative that you get out of the house you share with your abuser immediately. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, it may be appropriate to obtain a temporary restraining order to make sure that the abuser cannot come near you. It is advisable to consult an experienced Chicago domestic violence attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and help you take the proper steps to ensure that your abuser will never again hurt you.