Domestic violence is about much more than just physical abuse. Emotional and psychological trauma usually go hand in hand with physical violence. One psychological condition — battered woman syndrome — can trap some women into a cycle of abuse, making it feel impossible to leave. Identifying the symptoms of BWS may help some women in Kentucky recognize their situation and the options for moving forward.

A woman suffering from BWS will struggle to blame her abuser, instead believing that she is solely responsible for the abuse. BWS will also make a woman believe that her abuser has absolute power over her situation. Therefore she believes that she cannot seek out help or contact the authorities out of fear that the abuser will harm her.

These symptoms manifest after a cycle of abuse with three distinct stages. In the first stage, the abuser will engage in various behaviors intended to create tension. In the second stage, the tension reaches a tipping point and the abuser lashes out with various forms of violence. This violence may be physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or otherwise. The abuser will apologize in the final stage and try to fix the damage he or she caused. People often refer to the third stage as the honeymoon stage, during which the victim forgives her abuser. The cycle starts over from here.

Battered woman syndrome develops over time, and most victims do not realize the incremental changes that build up into serious psychological conditions. This is why many women in Kentucky find it so helpful to have a knowledgeable advocate on their side. Navigating the process of recurring important protections like child custody modifications or restraining orders can be easier with the right help.