Sometimes it feels like men have been given some natural license to treat women like subordinates or inferiors, and women have been fighting for decades to change this perception. This is why seeing women being abused by their partners is especially difficult to accept. Battered Wife Syndrome is the name given to the psychological and behavioural symptoms derived from this type of abusive relationship.
It is my bias that it is no one’s right to hit anyone, children included because it demeans the individual. A woman who suffers this kind of abuse believes that the violence is her fault and actually has an inability to place the blame elsewhere, mainly the husband. Even though she does not know what triggers the violence (and it can be anything from a comment she made to cooking food he doesn’t like), she believes that since her actions trigger the violence she brought it on to herself. She will also suffer from intense fear for her own life and for the life of her children if she has any. She becomes irrational and believes that her husband will find her anywhere she goes; he is everywhere and has some supreme power.
The first question that comes to mind is why women would stay in this kind of relationship. There are two simple answers: the first is fear. The woman who suffers from Battered Wife Syndrome believes that if she tries to leave, her partner will find her and then punish her. The second reason is that once the violent episode is over the man tends to be extremely remorseful and extremely caring. The woman often feels that she should be the nurturing partner and that she should support her husband. She is reinforced by the behaviour that some people refer to as the honeymoon period and believes that he won’t repeat the abuse again. This is a very complex situation and this information is by no means comprehensive but merely an overview.
The wife is not the only person who is affected by the abusive relationship but the children are too. Studies have shown that boys who see their mother being abused are more likely to commit acts of violence themselves. On the other hand girls who witness the abuse of their mothers are more likely to tolerate abusive partners later in life. It is easy to assume that this is a syndrome that doesn’t exist in this part of the world, and that it is a Western problem. However research in Palestine for example has shown that the worsening political and economic conditions in refugee camps have increased the number of battered women. The fact may be that there isn’t enough research conducted in the Arab world about this kind of phenomenon especially since Arabs value privacy in the home. It is naïve to think that an individual can solve such a problem. If you are suffering, or know of someone in an abusive relationship then seek professional help (e.g. counseling) immediately.