"Battered Wife Syndrome" and Domestic Violence Allegations

Posted By Pasadena Family Law Attorney || 25-May-2010

In response to my blog about false allegations and domestic violence, a few woman advised me that their request for a restraining order had been denied or that their attorney advised against pursuing it and that such a result conflicted with the findings that the system was set up to encourage false allegations of domestic violence by actually rewarding the accusers. Interestingly, each of those woman claim to have suffered from "Battered Wife Syndrome", which is defined as "a pattern of signs and symptoms, such as fear and a perceived inability to escape, appearing in women who are physically and mentally abused over an extended period by a husband or other dominant individual."

In order to understand this apparent inconsistency, one must realize that the survival strategies used by a battered woman appear illogical, among other things. After all, the woman remained in the relationship, despite the abuse and failed to protect her child from her abuser. As a result of the misconceptions and contradictions regarding the victim's perceptions and reactions, it is very difficult to prove the domestic violence. When and if she files for a domestic violence restraining order or some other legal remedy/protection, she appears to be equally as unfit a parent as the abuser, if not more unfit because of her apparent failure to protect her child. Her legal representative would need to be well versed in "Battered Wife Syndrome" and properly put such information before the court through expert opinion of such a diagnosis as well as evidence to educate the court regarding the apparent illogical behavior of the battered woman. Even if this is properly placed before the court, the victim is often the only witness to the abuse and the judicial officer would have to believe her. If the judicial officer believes her, but does not grasp the illogical manner in which she handled matters before seeking a legal remedy/protection, the court could have the child/children removed from both parents.

It is ironic and tragic that legitimate cases of domestic violence slip through the cracks, while accusers making false allegations often succeed in establishing that they suffered domestic violence.