I am writing to comment on the online article by Lenore Walker, EdD entitled “Battered Woman Syndrome: Key Elements of a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan.” In my view, Dr Walker’s report contains several inaccuracies and distortions—such as the notion that our society trains men to dominate and control women (“It is understood that domestic violence is part of gender violence. . . ”) Dr Walker provides no credible evidence for this claim.
Furthermore, Dr Walker’s claim that “. . . many more women than men are the victims of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. . .” must also be put in perspective. For example, a recent exhaustive and carefully controlled study found that in nonreciprocally (unilateral) violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of cases.1
And what of violence directed against children, discussion of which Dr Walker omits? Some data indicate that 70% of violence against children (another form of domestic violence all too often ignored) comes from mothers and 30% from fathers, according to government statistics.2-4
It is worth mentioning that there is very little evidence that a battered women syndrome is any different from a battered men syndrome or from a battered child syndrome. Should we not be referring to a battered patients syndrome? Also worth noting that rates of domestic or intimate partner violence are among the highest in lesbian couples.5
—Arnold Robbins, MD Baltimore, Maryland
References1. Whitaker DJ, Haileyesus T, Swahn M, Saltzman LS. Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. Am J Public Health. 2007;97: 941-947. Online at http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/97/5/941?view=long&pmid=17395835. Accessed August 3, 2009.
2. Child Maltreatment 2002, US Dept. of Health and Human Services publication pp.24 and 45. Online at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cwo02/chapters/intro2002.htm
and www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040401.html. Accessed August 3, 2009.
3. Sedlack AJ, Broadhurst DD. Executive Summary of the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect. US Department of Health and Human Services. Online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/statsinfo/nis3.cfm. Accessed August 3, 2009.
4. Domestic-Violence Equivalent of the Berlin Wall Begins to Crumble? Online at http://blog.fathersforlife.org/2008/10/16/domestic-violence-equivalent-of-the-berlin-wall-begins-to-crumble. Accessed August 3, 2009.
5. Kaschak E. Intimate Betrayal—Domestic Violence in Lesbian Relationships. The Haworth Press, New York. 2002.
This is the article referred to in the above letter to the editor: