Jurisdictions that allow laypersons to testify prior to experts give the expert the ability to expand on the meaning of battered spouse syndrome, setting a framework that the jury could use to find that the relationship in question was one typical of battering relationships.
First, experts should be allowed to describe battered spouse syndrome generally to provide a psychological context, dispel myths about women in battering relationships regarding why women stay or may fail to recall details of the incident, and provide a new framework through which the jury views the case.
When you talk about lesbian battering, you're talking about putting together threads that are disparate and not necessarily coordinated ...
Because shelters collect much of the data available about battered women, the reluctance of some women in relationships with women to seek housing at domestic violence shelters, along with the closeted status of many lesbian, bisexual, and queer women in shelter programs, prevents the accurate documentation of incidences of woman-to-woman battering. Studies that do not depend on shelter statistics face the challenge of locating women partnered with women, still a comparatively invisible population in the contemporary United States.
(63) Although numerous studies document the profound impact of battering and its effects on women's physical and mental health, there is not overwhelming support for a particular profile: (64) [R]eactions to violence and abuse vary; they include emotional reactions (e.g., fear, anger, sadness); changes in beliefs and attitudes about sell others, and the world (e.g., self-blame, distrust, generalized belief that the world is unsafe); and symptoms of psychological distress or dysfunction (e.g., depression, flashback, anxiety, sleep problems, substance abuse).
In short, although the term battered woman syndrome offers a convenient "label" that may ease communication, the disadvantage is that the "syndrome has become a stereotype that often does not fit the current state of knowledge concerning battering and its effects." (69) Thus, the testimony is unlikely to benefit those women whose behavior does not conform to this "narrow vision of what battered women should look like." (70) Indeed, support for the initial concern that battered woman syndrome evidence would develop into a new stereotype--the "reasonable battered woman" standard--can be found in judicial interpretations of the relevancy of the testimony.
The dramatization of woman battering
through the emphasis on incidents of women experiencing severe abuse has overshadowed the lives of women less severely abused (Loseke, 1992).
Instead, Schopp finds "pattern of abuse" evidence much more significant and persuasive in convincing a jury of the reasonableness of a battered woman's belief that deadly force was necessary in the absence of a concurrent attack.(22) That evidence focuses upon the woman's prior experience with and intimate knowledge of her batterer and the battering
Essentially, though, Downs proposes modifying the law of self-defense, maintaining its requirements of imminence, retreat, and proportionality, but injecting these requirements with the realities of the battering
He is careful, however, to distinguish his proposal from a similar one made by Stephen Schulhofer, and he makes clear that the question of imminence should not be confused with the question of the woman's remaining in, or failure to escape from, the battering
relationship.(22) Unlike Schulhofer, Downs would place no burden on her to prove that she could not leave as a precondition to an instruction which allowed the jury to weigh the necessity of her action.
Unless some type of professional intervention occurs at this point, the second phase of the cycle - acute battering
- becomes all but inevitable.
The same would be true in cases involving battering
. Not only can the woman seek redress in the criminal court where the abuser can be punished by a deprivation of freedom, but by using a lawsuit for assault or an intentional tort the woman can literally make the abuser pay for the injury he has caused.