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When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
The topic of domestic abuse remains a controversial issue when it comes to determining punishment for battered women who use violence towards their partner. According to a recent study, battered women who are seen as engaging in mutual violence and shared substance abuse are often regarded negatively and subject to harsher sentences.

The topic of domestic abuse remains a controversial issue when it comes to determining punishment for battered women who use violence towards their partner. According to a recent study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE Journal, battered women who are seen as engaging in mutual violence and shared substance abuse are often regarded negatively and subject to harsher sentences.

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Study Author Elisabeth C. Wells analyzed the reasoning underlying judges' sentencing decisions in 26 domestic homicide and abuse cases from 1974-2006 in Canada. Her analysis focused on two possible lines of reasoning that minimized the threat and extent of violence towards the women in the relationship and that used police evidence to emphasize substance abuse and ongoing mutual violence. Wells found that a judge's reliance on each line of reasoning was associated with harsher sentencing. She also identified one judge who demonstrated resistance to these stereotyped portrayals of battered women who fight back.

"Judges downgraded acts of previous partner violence by using minimizing descriptions and by emphasizing the mutuality of the violence and of substance abuse," wrote the author.

Wells asserted that legal systems need to recognize the complex psychological nature of victim mentality and behavior within domestic abuse cases.

"Typically, women's use of violence within their relationships has been found to be another aspect of their ongoing victimization."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. C. Wells. "But Most of All, They Fought Together": Judicial Attributions for Sentences in Convicting Battered Women Who Kill. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2012; 36 (3): 350 DOI: 10.1177/0361684312448932

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912161552.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2012, September 12). When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912161552.htm
SAGE Publications. "When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912161552.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

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