battered person syndrome | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

Battered Person Syndrome is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder that can occur in individuals who have experienced prolonged and severe domestic violence, characterized by a cycle of violence and control, and may be used as a legal defense in criminal cases.

Battered Person Syndrome is a term used to describe a pattern of psychological symptoms that can result from prolonged and severe domestic violence. This condition is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is characterized by a range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, fear, and hypervigilance.

Individuals who experience Battered Person Syndrome may also exhibit certain behavioral patterns, such as feeling powerless or trapped in their situation, exhibiting low self-esteem, and feeling isolated from friends and family. In some cases, individuals may develop a form of Stockholm Syndrome, in which they develop a bond with their abuser and defend their actions.

Battered Person Syndrome can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to function in everyday life and can make it difficult for them to leave an abusive situation or seek help. This condition can also have long-term effects on an individual’s mental and physical health and may require ongoing treatment and support.

In the legal context, Battered Person Syndrome can be used as a defense in criminal cases, particularly cases involving domestic violence or homicide. The defense typically argues that the individual’s actions were a result of the abuse they suffered and that they should not be held fully responsible for their actions.

The use of Battered Person Syndrome as a legal defense is controversial and has been criticized by some who argue that it can allow abusers to avoid accountability for their actions. However, proponents of the defense argue that it can help to bring attention to the pervasive problem of domestic violence and can help to reduce the stigma associated with being a victim of abuse.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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