Family Violence And Abuse Argumentative Essays Example
Marcia Norman is not guilty of the murder of her husband.
Marcia Norman’s case details clearly show that she suffered from an intimate-partner abuse and has a battered spouse syndrome. According to Wallace and Roberson (2014), there are numerous types of family violence injuries that can cover the whole spectrum of illnesses (p. ). At the same time, they may often have mental disorders caused by their victimization and affecting their perception of reality, their position and their abuser’s strength and level of threat (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. ). The abuse by her partner could have been witnessed and proven by her family and friends, as her husband humiliated her numerous times in front of them, when laughing at him prostituting her. Moreover, he put out a cigarette on her body and caused a burn the day she killed him, and the burn could be verified by the medical experts. He also kicked and slapped her, as well as performed other forms of physical abuse, and the medical experts could check the state of her body and verify the injuries caused by her abuser. The actions of Marcia’s husband could clearly affect her mental state and make her think that her life was in great danger. Moreover, the case contains such characteristics of the partner abuse as traumatic bonding, alcohol abuse and power imbalance (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. 228). Indeed, Mitchell did not work, so he might have felt less powerful than his wife and possibly intimidated by her possibility to make money, even by prostitution, and for this reason he controlled her prostitution and her earnings, as well as reinforced his control by beating her. He mostly abused her under the influence of alcohol, as the woman stated that their communication was alright, when Mitchell was sober. This leads to the traumatic bonding, as he would abuse her during intoxication, but made her feel normal and possibly even loved when sober. This might have affected her self-esteem and made her believe that he was a loving partner with problems with alcohol and self-control.
At the same time, it is important to note that while Marcia’s family and friends knew that she was prostituted by her husband, beaten up and humiliated in front of them, she still spent 25 years of her life with him, having married him at 14 years old. This could mean that her family did not give her enough support and did not try to help her hard enough for her to be able to leave him earlier or at least seek professional help from either medics or the police. Such situation might be explained by the intergenerational transmission of violence theory and by the culture of violence theory. In particular, her family might have condoned Mitchell’s behavior, as they did not prevent Marcia from prostituting and did not prevent him from assaulting or humiliating her. They might have also been intimidated by him and accepted his claim for power over his wife, given that the nowadays society is still patriarchic, and that violence is constantly portrayed as a normal part of life by various media.
Marcia could have suffered from a battered spouse syndrome because she was constantly abused by her husband for a prolonged period of time. The two elements of the battered spouse syndrome are also present in this case, namely, the learned helplessness and the cycle of violence. Indeed, Marcia was abused so many times without any visible escape that she perceived her relationship with Mitchell as a dead-end situation. She was repeatedly beaten and humiliated and even made a suicide attempt. But when she desperately tried to get help from the authorities, they made the procedure too formal, asking a threatened and abused woman to file a formal complaint, when she thought she could be killed by Mitchell anytime, especially when he would have found out about her actions. Moreover, the paramedics witnessed the abusive and threatening behavior of her husband, but turned a blind eye to it, which, according to Wallace and Robertson (2014), is a frequent behavior by the authorities and medical staff that fears “opening Pandora’s box” (p. 223). The second element of the battered spouse syndrome is the cycle of violence. In her case, Marcia suffered from her husband’s abuse mostly only when he consumed alcohol, but got along very well during his sobriety. The humiliation without the physical abuse was also present, meaning that her husband was gradually accumulating anger and aggression toward Marcia, abusing her physically and emotionally and then becoming a normal husband again. During 25 years of living in such conditions, the woman could have become accustomed to such behavior. Constant threats of her husband about injuring or killing her could have made her believe that he would do so, once she took actions against him. This claim is supported by her suicide attempt showing that the woman would rather die than continue living the life she had. The suicidal attempt after calling the police also means that she though no one and nothing could help her, even the authorities, and that her husband was invincible to any type of punishment.
On the day of the murder, Marcia tried to commit suicide, but after the paramedics left, she was again kicked, slapped and thrown objects at by Mitchell, however weak her physical health might have been after the attempt. As the paramedics only helped her recover, but took a passive position during her husband’s pleas of leaving her to die, she might have realized that her husband not only fears no one, but also wants her dead. He abused her the same evening and put out a cigarette on her body. Given her mental condition that drove her to a suicide attempt, these events might have been the last drop that caused her believe that her life was in a mortal danger, although not directly. For this reason, she might have believed that her choice was to either kill herself or her husband to survive, and as her attempt failed, she resorted to killing him, while believing that this was a self-defense act. Taking into perspective the woman’s 25 years of living in an intimate-partner abuse relationship and being gradually driven to a suicide attempt by her husband, the woman is not guilty of killing him in self-defense as a last resort for survival.
Marcia Norman is guilty of the murder of her husband.
The battered spouse syndrome and, in particular, the battered wife syndrome is an ambiguous theory that lacks clear support by the psychiatrists and legal system. The syndrome has been used in courts as an attempt to justify homicide by women of their husbands for several decades now, although it has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But not all women, who have killed their partners after months or years of the intimate-partner violence, can be considered to have a battered spouse syndrome or even the post-traumatic stress disorder. They can, in fact, kill their partners out of simple desire to get rid of the abuse, out of anger or for other reasons that are not connected with their perception of the threat or the reality of the threat. At the same time, even if women have the battered spouse syndrome or other mental condition that can cause them to commit a murder, not all of such women kill out of self-defense.
Although Marcia Norman was a victim of her husband’s abuse for the major part of her married life, she had several ways to escape such life, although she might have been thinking that help was inaccessible to her or ineffective in her case. This can be demonstrated by the fact that her family and friends have not provided her help during her life time, although knowing that her husband was prostituting her and abusing her. At the same time, they might have been intimidated by her husband, as well. Nonetheless, Marcia’s actions are testimony to the fact that she could have turned at least for her mother’s help previously. This argument can be supported by her having brought her child to the mother’s house prior to taking a pistol, going home and killing her husband. At the same time, Marcia has been suggested help by the police after her husband had assaulted her, however formal this help could be perceived by Marcia. She could have asked paramedics for help, as well, but she preferred to stay at home. Meanwhile, being physically abused for decades, Marcia did not turn to the medical experts to verify her injuries and be able to file the complaint. Marcia’s passivity can be explained by the learned helplessness as a part of the battered spouse syndrome, but at the same time, her killing of Mitchell cannot be justified as a last resort, as she has been offered other options and even used one when turned to her mother for help when asking to baby-sit her child.
Marcia has been a prostituted by her husband for the major part of her life, but her husband did not have a financial control over her, as she was the one to earn and spend money, so she also had a possibility to choose how to spend the money. However, her shame for being a prostitute might have held her in the relationship with Mitchell as a part of his emotional control over her. Marcia had to earn money, as Mitchell was not working, but she could have chosen any other job to avoid humiliation she had from prostitution. At the same time, Marcia was not a socially isolated individual, as it is evident from her testimony that she had family and friends that are usually a source of feedback about the abuser’s act and support for the abused person (Wallace & Robertson, 2014, p. 228). Thus, Marcia was neither socially isolated, so her perception of a normal family life was not limited to the actions and values of Mitchell, nor she was also financially independent from him, although she presumably gave him all the money she has earned.
The most controversial statement in Marcia’s case is her claim of self-defense, which has to be based on the reasonably perceived necessity to defend oneself from an imminent danger of suffering bodily injury and reasonable belief that the immediate use of force was a necessity, and such person used reasonable defense in the given dangerous circumstances (“Self-Defense and Defense of Others”, n.d.). However, despite the fact that Marcia might have been a victim of the battered spouse syndrome, her actions do not fall under the description of self-defense. She has planned her actions on the spot, when she decided to take her child to her mother and then return with a pistol to kill her sleeping husband. Her actions actually look as made voluntarily, instead of as a self-defense forced by the dangerous circumstances. First of all, the danger was not imminent when she came home to kill Mitchell, as he was sleeping and, thus, harmless at that particular moment. Marcia, thus, cannot claim that she thought she had to defend herself from Mitchell because such belief is not reasonable given his state of consciousness. Consequently, the force she applied in these circumstances is not reasonable, as it did not correspond to the danger posed by her husband at that moment. Thus, Marcia’s actions cannot be construed as a self-defense by a woman suffering from the battered spouse syndrome, as they look like a voluntary actions figured out in advance as a revenge for her husband’s abuses imposed on her for two decades of their married life.
The battered spouse syndrome is an ambiguous term that does not have an official definition both in the legal and psychiatric areas. Although this concept has been widely applied by courts in different cases during the last couples of decades, it cannot be universally applied to every woman, who became a victim of an intimate partner’s abuse. This argument is driven by the numerous evidences that many women have used the syndrome to justify the unlawful killing dictated by resentment, aggression, revenge or unreasonable fear. For this reason, each separate case should be estimated separately by the experts, otherwise the use of this clause may serve as an excuse for the victims of the intimate partner abuse to solve the problems by killing the abuser instead of trying to use other available options. In Marcia’s case, the woman should be found guilty of the murder of her husband because although abused and probably suffering of the effects of the persistent battering and abuse, she did not act out of self-defense. Her husband did not pose any threat to her the night she killed him, as he was asleep, and the woman took time to prepare the crime scene by taking away the child to her mother, taking a pistol, returning back to the sleeping husband and shooting him in his sleep. The woman had several other options available, such as staying with the mother, going to the hospital to verify the burn by the cigarette and filing an official complaint, or even simply running away with the child, but instead she took revenge on her husband, and even if she thought she was acting out of self-defense, her subjective perception of the danger posed by Mitchell cannot justify the committed crime.
Self-Defense and Defense of Others. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2015, from https://www.justia.com/criminal/defenses/self-defense/
Wallace, H., & Roberson, C. (2014). Family violence: Legal, medical, and social perspectives (Seventh ed.). Pearson.
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