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Distorted Reflections of Battered Women Who Kill: A Response to Professor Dressler

19 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2007  

Joan H. Krause

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Krause, Joan H., Distorted Reflections of Battered Women Who Kill: A Response to Professor Dressler. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 4, p. 555, 2007; University of Houston, Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2007-A-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=979831

Joan H. Krause (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-4126 (Phone)
919-962-1277 (Fax)

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