According to the National Statistics Domestic Violence, about 10 million Americans suffer physical abuse, being 15% of their intimate partners. This number includes both men and women. People who inflict pain on others have mental health issues that have been suppressed or left untreated. They must have suffered the same violence when they were young. They are unaware that the physical abuse they cause others could pass as psychological trauma. Many women acquire mental health issues such as anxiety and depression from their abusers. They then can develop a mental health condition known as battered woman syndrome.
What Is Battered Woman Syndrome?
Battered woman syndrome which can be used interchangeably with battered wife syndrome is a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD which stems from physical or domestic abuse. This condition causes a woman to think and feel helpless and hopeless. She refuses to get out of the situation or ask for help. This feeling is caused by the prolonged pain she suffers from her abuser. According to Dr. Romas Buivydas, PhD, LMHC, “It identifies and addresses traumatic experiences that have overwhelmed the brain’s natural coping capacity, and, as a result, have created traumatic symptoms, such as flashbacks or anxiety, or harmful coping strategies, such as isolating behavior and self-medication with alcohol or drugs.”
What Are The Symptoms Of Battered Woman Syndrome?
- She thinks that she deserves the abuse and that it’s her fault. She always justifies the pain she suffers by coming up with a mistake or a shortcoming she did. She tells herself it is her punishment for all the things she did wrong.
- She is continuously distant and fearful for her safety and her children’s safety. She becomes quiet and avoids social interaction for fear of letting other people know that she is in an abusive relationship. “For many women, the safest choice is to just leave. As the brave women in our study shared, by finding courage and seeking out support from loved ones, victims of intimate partner violence can break free of abuse and build a life of dignity and safety.” Jason B. Whiting, Ph.D., LMFT explains.
- She develops paranoia over her abuser knowing all her actions. She is afraid to run away because she fears that he would find her anyway. She also doesn’t intend to ask anyone for help because she fears that he would know.
- She doesn’t open up about her horrible situation to people who can help her such as family and friends. There’s the feeling of shame but at the same time pity and fear for the abuser.
How Is Battered Woman Syndrome Treated?
A person with battered woman syndrome should first be away from her current home or place where she is suffering the abuse. She must first feel safe to be prepared to receive the necessary treatments. She would then undergo physical and psychological tests to determine the severity of the damage she suffered. Aside from psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy can also aid in the treatment of battered woman syndrome.
What Is Interpersonal Therapy?
Interpersonal therapy or IPT comes from the concept that mental health problems are mainly from our relationships such as our family and friends. They could be a part of our past or present. IPT is effective in treating depression and is most often complementary to medications. Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D. explains, “We should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection.” The goal of IPT is to help a person rebuild her relationships outside the abuse which would then help her to regain self-confidence, self-respect, and self-love.
Interpersonal therapy is an efficient way to aid women in battling battered woman syndrome. It is a way for them to think more of themselves, and it will help them realize that they deserve and have people who love and respect them who would treat them with the kindness that they deserve.