Battered Person Defense • Definition • Legal defense representing that the person accused of an assault or murder was suffering from battered person syndrome. • Refers to a plea of self-defense by a person who, because of constant and severe domestic violence, usually involving physical abuse, becomes: • depressed and unable to take action to escape the abuse • fearful for their life or physical safety.
Battered Person Defense • Theory: Stages of Battered Person Syndrome • Tension building stage • victim suffers verbal abuse or minor physical violence. • victim attempts to pacify the abuser. • this passivity might reinforce the abuser’s violent tendencies. • Acute battering incident • both perceived and real danger is maximal. • Loving contrition • battering incident is over. • batterer apologizes and promises to change.
Battered Person Defense • Limitations • There is no consensus in the medical profession that severe and ongoing abuse results in a mental condition severe enough to excuse alleged offenders. • “Learned helplessness,” or the inability to escape the abuser seems contradictory with the “active engagement” of assaulting or murdering of the abuser.
Battered Person Defense History Battered woman syndrome has been part of the legal lexicon since 1978, when Miriam Grieg of Billings, Mont., was found not guilty by reason of self defense after shooting her husband six times and killing him as he lay in bed.