The Truth About Battered Women’s Syndrome – Part 1
If you or someone you love, like me 😧, have lived through some form of recuring abuse – either emotional or physical – than it is highly possible Battered Women’s Syndrome has touched your life.
It has mine, every day. As much as I would love to say that it goes away – the fear, the memories, they never completely disappear. They may fade, but they are always there. The triggers are never far below the surface and it can all come rushing back in an instant.
Sound familiar? Than you need to read about this thing called Battered Women’s Syndrome.
What is Battered Women’s Syndrome?
The term Battered Women’s Syndrome came into play in the 1970’s by Lenore Walker, EdD, founder of the Domestic Violence Institute and author of many books. She writes that the cycle of violence and ‘learned helplessness’ can explain the development of psychological problems in women who are repeatedly abused by their husbands – an intimate partner – this is what is called Battered Women’s Syndrome.
Battered Women’s Syndrome (BWS) is a subcategory of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is described as the result of facing or witnessing a terrifying event leaving a lasting impression, causing oneself to create new conditions for one’s life – often holding oneself back.
The battered woman is so traumatized by her partner’s abuse that she may believe she is in danger even when she is safe. The danger is very real to her and therefor affects her way of life.
Therapy is imperative for people dealing with BWS and PTSD. With brainspotting, talk therapy, inner child work and trauma therapy, healing is completely possible.
What Are The Stages Leading To Battered Women’s Syndrome?
According to Walker, there are 3 stages for 1 cycle of abuse that will continue to repeat itself leading a woman to BWS. Looking back, I can clearly see this pattern in my married life. However when I was in the situation I was so emotional and so convinced this was normal in a marriage, I was trapped in a vicious cycle that I wasn’t aware of that eventually led me to a place of darkness that I didn’t think I was coming back from.
Phase 1: tension building between the batterer and their partner. I could always tell when he was winding up about something, stewing, drinking one beer after another. I could sense the anger building and knew it was my job to either dispel it or take it.
Phase 2: the explosion, the big fight when that tension reaches it’s breaking point and the batterer needs to batter. At this point, I would just take it like it was my job… thinking I was hiding it.
Phase 3: the lovebombing. The abuser appears so sorry and regretful, becomes incredibly loving with gifts and promises and begging for help. I bought it every time…
Then things will be ok for a bit only to hit phase 1 again shortly and repeat the whole thing. Over and over and over again.
After years of this, the result is a woman firmly stuck prey to Battered Women’s Syndrome. Therapy and understanding become imperative.
Signs of Battered Women’s Syndrome
BWS is not something women easily admit and talk about. After withstanding years of abuse, it can take a really long time to understand and correct what has happened to you. And that is ok. BWS can cause many to stay in the abusive relationship and do things out of character, confusing to those around us.
If you notice a loved one display any of these signs, open up a conversation and listen to them. Things to look for are:
A Woman Suffering From Battered Women’s Syndrome Will:
- Withdraw from friends and family with very lame, repeated excuses.
- Seem very anxious around their partner.
- Seem afraid or stressed when their partner is around.
- Has frequent bruises or injuries that their explanations just don’t sit right with you.
- Has limited access to money or transportation.
- Is displaying extreme personality differences.
- Gets frequent calls from their partner making them check in and creating anxiety in them.
- Has a partner with a temper or is possessive and easily jealous.
Please remember that she is thinking this is all her fault and that she deserves this. At this point she is conditioned to believe these things and is in fear for her life and her children’s lives and feels like she is constantly being watched by her abuser. These feelings take a long time to go away, but it is possible. With knowledge and compassion we can end domestic violence together.
It is so important to keep the conversation going. Part 2 is just around the corner –
I’m just getting started… aren’t you?!
Malibu Mama Loves Xx