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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
12-Sep-2012

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Contact: Camille Gamboa
camille.gamboa@sagepub.com
805-410-7441
SAGE Publications

When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in

Los Angeles, CA (September 12, 2012)--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.

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."

Find out more by reading the study, "'But Most of All, They Fought Together': Judicial Attributions for Sentences in Convicting Battered Women Who Kill" in Psychology of Women Quarterly. This article is available free for a limited time at: http://pwq.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/07/11/0361684312448932.full.pdf+html

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Psychology of Women Quarterly (PWQ) is a feminist, scientific, peer-reviewed journal that publishes empirical research, critical reviews and theoretical articles that advance a field of inquiry, brief reports on timely topics, teaching briefs, and invited book reviews related to the psychology of women and gender. Topics include (but are not limited to) feminist approaches, methodologies, and critiques; violence against women; body image and objectification; sexism, stereotyping, and discrimination; intersectionality of gender with other social locations (such as age, ability status, class, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation); international concerns; lifespan development and change; physical and mental well being; therapeutic interventions; sexuality; social activism; and career development.

2011 Impact Factor: 2.115
2011 Ranking: 2/38 in Women'S Studies | 24/124 in Psychology, Multidisciplinary
Source: 2011 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2012)

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. www.sagepublications.com



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