Battered Woman Syndrome

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Glady’s Heavenfire Case Battered Woman Syndrome has provided women who have been abused at the hands of their partners recognition in the criminal justice system and is allowing women to tell their stories. Although there are controversies surrounding battered woman syndrome, it should not be viewed as an excuse for killing their partners. It is a real disorder that has affected thousands of women 's lives all over the world. Discussing the Gladys Heavenfire case will bring awareness to the life of a woman who has been abused by her partner for several years. Furthermore, it provides information on Indigenous women who are more likely to suffer abuse than white women. Indigenous people have been discriminated and have been extremely mistreated …show more content…

On August 26, 1990 in Shepard, Alberta, Heavenfire killed her husband, Derrick John Falardeau, after being in an intoxicated altercation that evening. Before the death of Falardeau, both were seen at a bar, where they were asked to leave because of their fighting (Sheehy, 2014, p.129). A witness, Kathy Kennedy, saw Falardeau punch Heavenfire in the face repeatedly before driving away. A short time later, Heavenfire called 9-1-1 to report that she had shot Falardeau in the head (Sheehy, 2014, p.129). Heavenfire was charged with second-degree murder and went to trial to try and plea her case with a battered woman’s defense. Battered woman syndrome is described as “a physical and psychological condition of a woman who has undergone emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from a counterpart” (Khana and Sachdeva, (2015, p.8). Heavenfire and Falardeau’s relationship was plagued with violence. Several witnesses for the prosecution and defence noted seeing bruising on Heavenfire on multiple occasions. A particular witness, Linda Newton, a counselor at a vocational college “saw bruising on her face on at least five occastions” (Sheehy, 2014, p.134). In the end, the jury was able to see the effects of the physical and mental abuse suffered by Heavenfire as they acquitted her of all charges. Making Heavenfire “the first Aboriginal woman to be acquitted after the Lavallee ruling …show more content…

Some women are afraid for their lives, that if they leave their partner, they or their family will be harmed. In Heavenfire’s case, she truly loved and cared for Falardeau and did not want to see him go to jail for his crimes. Falardeau financially supported Heavenfire and she did not want to involve her family for support if she were to leave Falardeau. Heavenfire’s was an exceptional case as she was the first aboriginal to be cleared of all charges in her husband’s killings. Inequality in the criminal justice system is evident. Indigenous people are incarcerated at much higher rates than non-Indigenous in Canada and are incarcerated for longer periods of time (Cook & Roesh, 2012, p.222). Canadians have put Indigenous communities through much heartache and pain. With the colonization of Indigenous people to residential schools, Canadians continue to stigmatize and treat Indigenous people poorly. Indigenous people are more likely to suffer from drug abuse using needles because of the intergenerational trauma suffered through their parents attending residential schools in Canada (Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2014, p. 327). This puts them at a higher criminal risk than others because of what they have been subjected to. Reasons et al., (2016) found that, “offending and victimization are a consequence of multiple risk factors,

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