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More Than Victims

Battered Women, the Syndrome Society, and the Law

In More Than Victims, Donald Downs offers a sympathetic and powerful analysis of the problems attending the use of battered-woman syndrome as a legal defense, ultimately revealing how the syndrome’s logic actually harms those it is trying to protect. A persuasive account of how constitutional freedom and individual justice can be threatened by current legal standards, this thorough yet accessible work presents a dramatic rethinking of the criminal justice system.

"More Than Victims is a powerful step in the right direction. Women as well as men need to be protected from violence, and women, in particular, require better understanding of their sometimes oppressive situations. But they also need to be able to participate fully in the discourse of politics and citizenship. Downs offers a solution that helps to make both possible."—Teresa Godwin Phelps, Review of Politics

"Downs has written an important book on a subject that deserves more of our attention."— Susan Mezey, Law and Politics Book Review

"Comprehensive and compelling. [Downs] demonstrates a masterful grasp of the complex legal and philosophical issues implicated in domestic violence cases."—Annette DeMichele, New York Law Journal

317 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1996

Morality and Society Series

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

Pt. I: The Syndrome Society
1: The Syndrome Society: Justice or Illegitimate Excuse?
2: The Rise of the Syndrome Society: A New Perspective on Criminal Culpability
Pt. II: Domestic Violence and Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS)
3: The Nature of Domestic Abuse
4: Theories of Battering Relationships
Pt. III: BWS Reconsidered: Weighing Positive and Negative Consequences
5: Positive Aspects: BWS and the Narrative of Abuse in Law and Society
6: Legal Critiques of Battered Woman Syndrome
7: Syndromes and Political Theory: The Twilight of Considered Judgment and Citizenship
Pt. IV: Conclusion
8: A New Framework for Battered Women: Self-Defense and the Necessity of the Situation, by Donald A. Downs and Evan Gerstmann

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