Heather Osland became the face of battered women when she was convicted of murdering her husband, Frank Osland, in 1991. She drugged him and then she buried him in a grave she had prepared. She kept the fact of the murder a secret for almost four years (Husband killer set to get out of jail, 2005). During her trial she used two defenses available to her: the defense of provocation and self-defense.
She claimed that her husband, who had been abusing her for thirteen years had provoked her. Her anger, pent-up for years, welled up from inside her, and in defending herself against her husband’s violence, she had killed him. She was convicted of premeditated murder. Her son who was accused along with her was not found guilty. Osland’s appeal was denied. Her application for pardon was also denied. She served nine and a half years of a fourteen year prison sentence (Husband killer set to get out of jail, 2005). Heather Osland’s murder trial was the test case for the so-called ‘battered woman syndrome’. Battered woman syndrome is a set of psychological and behavioral symptoms resulting from prolonged exposure to intimate partner violence (Craven, 2003).
Domestic violence refers to acts of violence between persons who have or have had intimate relations in domestic settings. The violence includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological acts (Mitchell, 2011). The main element of domestic violence is the aim of one partner to control or dominate his partner through fear. Violence is just one of the tactics employed to maintain control or dominance over the partner (Mitchell, 2011, p. 2) Most victims of domestic violence are women but men can also be victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence includes emotional abuse: particularly, blaming the abused partner for everything that goes wrong in the relationship. It includes verbal abuse: when the abusive partner humiliates the other by swearing at him or her in public, focusing on his/her intelligence or appearance. It includes acts intended to isolate the abused partner from friends or family. It also includes economic abuse: depriving the abused partner access to bank accounts or depriving her of financial support to keep her in a dominant and subordinate role. It even includes using religious or spiritual beliefs to keep the partner in a subordinate or submissive role.
Domestic violence is common although it is often underreported. Often, there are no witnesses to the violence because it is intimate: it occurs only between two people behind a closed bedroom door. If you suspect that someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you will need the advice of a legal professional who can help you get protection and justice for the victim of domestic violence.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.