Battered Woman Syndrome - sometimes referred to as battered wife syndrome, battered spouse syndrome - refers to a mental disorder brought on by years of domestic abuse and is a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Symptoms which develop from battered woman syndrome include: feelings of deserving the abuse, self doubt and that she can't or shouldn't avoid it. For this reason, the violence most often goes unreported to law enforcement, and excuses are made to friends and family about what is really happening in the home.
A woman who develops battered woman syndrome will commonly go through a series of stages, of which there are four:
A battered woman is unable to admit or acknowledge that she is a victim of domestic abuse. Not only will they not reveal the abuse to close friends and family, but they will also fail to recognize the brutality which is being inflicted on them, or that there are any problems in the relationship with their partner.
In a lot of cases, the woman has been coerced and manipulated by the batterer into thinking that it was "just this once" and will never happen again. Denying the abuse prevents the battered woman from seeking the help they need to break the cycle.
Once the battered woman reaches the denial phase, she will then move into the second phase, which is developing feelings of guilt. The victim will convince themselves that they are responsible for the partner's behavior in some way.
The batterers will often feed the growing feelings of guilt by telling their battered partner that is their behavior and their negative characteristics which forces them to dole out the punishment.
Mental abuse is also heaped onto the victim when the batterer continues to chastise them for their shortcomings and berates them for not living up to their expectations. If only they would make an effort, then they would not be subjected to so much abuse. The abuse then goes unreported as the abuser is not to blame for their violent behavior.
Enlightenment is an important phase in which the battered woman finally admits to herself that she carries no part of the blame for the violence she has been suffering. She will also come to realize that no one should be subjected to this sort of treatment, regardless of their personality or characteristics.
Battered women start to realize that seeking help is essential if they are to remove themselves from the situation, but many will justify staying in the relationship because they are convinced it can be saved. However, this is a rare occurrence, and in most situations, the abuser escalates the level of violence.
In this stage, the battered woman will finally admit that the abuser holds all the responsibility for the abuse. It is during this stage that the victim will realize that the violence is escalating and that most abusers only get worse over time, so escaping is vital for both their sakes and their children.
It is incredibly important that battered women understand how dangerous their situations are.
Victims who need support during this pivotal moment should seek help from law enforcement agencies or call an abuse hotline for advice.