Battered Women and Public Opinion: Some Realities About the Myths

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Expert testimony regarding the battered woman syndrome is often presented at trial on behalf of women charged with killing their batterers. Where courts have admitted such testimony into evidence, they have done so on the theory that the testimony is needed to dispel common myths regarding battered women—e.g., erroneous beliefs that battered women are masochists, who are somehow responsible for the battering they suffer and could avoid being battered by simply leaving their batterers. To date, however, there is no published empirical evidence that either jurors or members of the public at large hold such erroneous beliefs. The results of this study provide empirical support for the judicial hypothesis. These results suggest that many members of the general public eligible for jury duty do, in fact, hold erroneous, stereotyped beliefs about battered women.

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Journal of Family Violence

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