Distorted Reflections of Battered Women Who Kill: A Response to Professor Dressler
19 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2007
In Battered Women and Sleeping Abusers: Some Reflections, Professor Joshua Dressler criticizes the application of self-defense to battered women who kill their abusers under nonconfrontational circumstances, such as when the abuser is asleep. Professor Dressler is critical of using evidence that the defendant suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome to establish the requisite self-defense elements, which historically have applied in confrontational contexts. According to Professor Dressler's critique, we have far too easily accepted the proposition that the battered woman's actions are morally justifiable, and have been far too willing to stretch the limits of the doctrine to accomplish this end. In response, this article argues that the moral risks supposedly presented by battered women who kill in nonconfrontational circumstances are, instead, dangers inherent in the doctrine of self-defense - and it is both incorrect and unfair to hold battered women to a higher standard than the doctrine itself requires.
Keywords: criminal law, battered women, battered woman's syndrome, BWS, self-defense
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