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Battered Woman’s Syndrome

Battered Woman's Syndrome
Battered Woman's Syndrome
Battered Woman’s Syndrome

The following information about Battered Woman’s Syndrome is being presented by Human Behavior Expert Patrick Wanis PhD who says questions remain unanswered about the recording of the phone call between Oksana Grigorieva and Mel Gibson. Did Oksana fail to call the police or walk out immediately because she suffers from Battered Woman’s Syndrome? And will this incident potentially harm the cases and claims of other women who have been battered?

Battered Woman s Syndrome
Battered Woman’s Syndrome

Dr. Lenore E. Walker is the most prominent expert in the US on battered women; in her book The Battered Woman Syndrome (1984) p. 95-97, she explains that there are four general characteristics of The Battered Woman Syndrome:

1. The woman believes that the violence was her fault
2. The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere
3. The woman fears for her life and/or her children’s lives
4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient

Further research reveals that battered women tend to stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons:

1. The woman is still positively reinforced during the honeymoon phase (prior to the abuse)
2.Women tend to be the peacekeepers in relationships – the ones responsible for making the marriage or relationship work
3. Adverse economic consequences – she fears she couldn’t survive financially
4. It is more dangerous to leave than to stay because of prior threats by the batterer to kill himself, kill or harm the children and/or threats to abscond with children
5. The woman has lost her self-esteem
6. The woman has no psychological energy to leave and she suffers from a learned helplessness or psychological paralysis; her self confidence and self respect have been broken down to a point where she no longer knows if she is crazy or not

Oksana does not seem to reflect the symptoms or behavior of a battered woman. That does not in any way imply that Oksana was not, as she claims, hit by Mel Gibson nor does it in any way condone or defend the behavior, words and threats made by Mel Gibson.

Oksana does not appear, by the tone of her voice, to be afraid of Mel Gibson; she does say that she fears for her daughter and for herself but her voice does not reflect that; Oksana remains calm during almost the entire call; she does not blame herself for his actions – she questions Mel Gibson’s manhood quite openly “You – what kind of man is that? Hitting a woman when she’s holding a child in her hands, breaking her teeth twice in the face! What kind of man is that?”

She blames him for his actions and tells him he needs medication, she does not in any way feel responsible for his actions, she does not explain or condone his behavior.

She tells him he will one day answer for his actions “You’re going to answer one day. Boy, you’re going to answer. “

Although Mel Gibson threatens her life and threatens to throw her out of the house and threatens to come over there to the house, Oksana openly questions his power by threatening to call the police and threatening that he will answer for his actions – that is not the response of a battered woman who typically believes the “abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.”

Oksana does not appear to have lost her self-confidence or self-esteem; she does not appear to be psychologically paralyzed as her tone and demeanor in the recorded call reflect someone that is calm, in control and confident; she does not appear intimidated or even emotionally swayed by his threats and emotional outbursts. Oksana openly tells him she does not care about his money or her career which signifies she is not under his control nor afraid to leave him or try to survive without him.

Further, this incident has been complicated by claims that Oksana doctored or edited the tapes and that Mel Gibson’s team claim they have forensic evidence to attest to that fact and to their claim that she had previously tried to extort money from Mel Gibson in return for not releasing the tape.

The most significant and critical point to be made here is for all of us to be careful that this incident and our interpretations and judgments do not take away from the very real and serious issue of domestic violence which affects not only women but also children. We cannot allow this incident to lead us into thinking that anytime a woman claims she has been abused or beaten that she is lying or intending to make money off a potentially false claim.

Listen to the interview Patrick Wanis PhD gave to Russ Morley morning host of news talk 850 WFTL radio.

Lenore E. A. Walker, Ed.D. has been called the ‘mother’ of the battered woman syndrome as it was her research back in the late 1970’s that named the psychological phenomenon that has assisted millions of people in better understanding why battered women have such difficulty in getting out of domestic violence relationships. First used in treatment planning by therapists and in legal defenses when battered women killed in self-defense, battered woman syndrome is seen as a subcategory of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and as part of other trauma responses. Dr. Walker is the principal psychologist at Walker & Associates, LLC, which is a member of the Forensic Psychology Group, LLC.

Learn more about Dr. Walker and her work here:

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