Battered woman syndrome
If you are a woman in a relationship where you have fallen victim to consistent and/or severe verbal, mental and emotional abuse, then it is very likely that you have developed ‘battered woman syndrome’ (BWS). Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked.

Your relationship is abusive if your partner: constantly criticises you and puts you down; blames you for his/her abusive behaviour; prevents you from seeing your friends or family; controls what you do and where you go; beats you, or threatens to hurt or kill you; forces you to have sex; blames you for everything that goes wrong or accuses you of things you haven’t done. There are just some of the many physical and psychological manifestations of abuse.

You may think that if your partner is not physically harming you, you are not being abused. Perhaps you don’t want to admit there is a problem in your relationship, yet continue to fear him/her and walk on eggshells around him/her. You may feel embarrassed to disclose to others what is happening, or refuse to seek help because you fear retribution, or more violence, if he/she finds out. You might even be convinced that you deserved to be hurt or mistreated, or even call each incident an “accident” and believe it will never happen again. You probably feel trapped, helpless and alone.

Whatever your reasons, it is important to understand that abusive behaviour is never acceptable. The scars and consequences of domestic violence and abuse can run deep, and the trauma of your experience can remain with you long after you have left the abusive relationship. However you are not alone, even if you feel you are. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, you can get the right treatment and support to help you heal and move on.
Help is available.

Recognising battered woman syndrome: what are the symptoms?
Battered women, will have a constellation of symptoms which will exacerbate as the physical and emotional abuse continues.
These may include:
  • Intrusive recollections of the trauma(s), i.e. re-experiencing it even when it is not occurring
  • A sense of constant danger
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Issues with sexual intimacy
  • Feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people
  • Feeling depressed and/or suicidal
  • When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again.
  • Low self-esteem and body image distortion
Treating battered woman syndrome: what are the options available?
There are a range of treatments that can help you process what you have been through and help you move on. The right approach for you will depend on the severity and length of abuse you have sustained, as well as other lifestyle factors. Proper treatment strategies may include empowerment techniques and psychotherapy.

Battered woman syndrome is a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).While not all battered women meet the criteria for PTSD, many do. In such cases, a form of trauma treatment can be helpful (trauma focused CBT and or EMDR).

If you think you are suffering from battered woman syndrome then please get in touch to arrange an assessment.

Get in touch

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