Abused Woman Syndrome affects many women who have experienced violence for a long time. Let’s see how it is possible to intervene in these cases. What happens to a woman who has suffered physical or psychological violence within a relationship? She can manifest battered woman syndrome, a term coined by Lenore E. A. Walker in her book The battered Woman.
In this text, the approach focuses on the physical symptoms and psychological consequences that derive from having suffered mistreatment in a couple relationship. At the same time, reference is made to the situation in which children witness important dynamics such as custody.
How to recognize the abused woman syndrome
The battered woman syndrome has some explicit characteristics that are important to know how to recognize. Because it is necessary to ask for professional help as soon as possible, so that the symptomatology in question does not worsen and does not affect the quality of life of the victim.
Physical symptoms – insomnia, weight loss, somatization of emotions (eczema, migraine, colic, etc.)
Psychological symptoms – depression, low self-esteem, guilt, despair, and fear.
These are just some of the symptoms that all women suffering from battered woman syndrome exhibit.
The learned helplessness
Learned helplessness is a psychological condition manifested by women who have suffered abuse. It is a harmful thought that prevents them from making decisions for their own benefit, in order to get out of a situation where they are subjected to violence or abuse.
They are convinced that nothing they do will change that. This feeling is extremely disabling, frustrating, and is the reason why many women are unable to get out of a situation of violence. Furthermore, not even trying can lead to another abusive relationship.
The post-traumatic stress of abused woman syndrome
When a woman is the victim of a situation of abuse that repeats itself over time, this forces her to experience a phase of perennial stress. This premise means that, after separation or after getting out of the situation, stress continues to be a constant.
This fight-and-flight response, so important to our survival, becomes completely maladaptive in people with abused woman syndrome. Stress, fear, and anxiety will manifest themselves in unlikely circumstances.
Some of the ways to identify this post-traumatic stress consists in analyzing the behavior of the woman who is the victim of abuse.
Nightmares and flashbacks that cause sweating, fear and an increased pulse.
Evasive behavior in front of places or thoughts that clearly remember the situation.
Hypervigilance, especially when the subject is on the street, because she believes that someone is following her.
Difficulty remembering characteristics or main moments concerning the traumatic event.
Aid for women victims of violence
Although the woman who is the victim of mistreatment believes that she cannot receive the requested help, in reality this is not the case. It is true that the person who mistreated her could be at liberty, simply subject to a restraining order and that this can cause particular fear and insecurity in the victim.
In some countries there are shelters that allow a woman and her children (if she has any) to escape from violence and prepare to start a new life. It is an opportunity to change in order to start from scratch.
It is essential to undergo psychotherapy with a professional who specializes in such cases. The support of the family in these cases is essential. If there are children, it is important that they also undergo psychological therapy.
There are non-profit organizations that the person can turn to if they are unwell or if they need someone to let off steam. Generally they offer a free service that can be of great help in those moments when the woman victim of violence feels at the limit.
In the face of any situation of violence, do not hesitate to call trusted people who will help you understand how to act and who to contact.