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67 Or. L. Rev. 393 (1988)
Defending Battered Women's Self-Defense Claims

handle is hein.journals/orglr67 and id is 403 raw text is: KIT KINPORTS*

Defending Battered Women's
Self-Defense Claims
T EN years have passed since Francine Hughes poured a can of
gasoline around the bed where her husband was sleeping,
stood outside the doorway, and threw a lighted match into the
room. In so doing, she not only killed the man who had subjected
her to brutal physical and psychological abuse for more than thir-
teen years, but also vividly brought the plight of battered women to
the public eye.' Violence inflicted on women by their husbands and
boyfriends2 continues to be a widespread problem; estimates of the
number of battered women in this country range from two to forty
million.3 Although a number of these women escape from the vio-
* Assistant Professor, University of Illinois College of Law. A.B., 1976, Brown Uni-
versity; J.D., 1980, University of Pennsylvania.
I would like to thank Mary Becker, Don Dripps, Wayne LaFave, Steve Ross, and
Steve Schulhofer for their valuable comments on earlier drafts of this Article, and Linda
Sue Freisler for her research assistance.
BED 186 (1980).
2 This Article uses the terms husband and spouse interchangeably to refer to
both abusive husbands and boyfriends.
The Article focuses only on the problems confronting battered women because wo-
men comprise the overwhelming number of victims of spousal abuse. See Thurman v.
City of Torrington, 595 F. Supp. 1521, 1528 n.1 (D. Conn. 1984) (women are victims in
29 out of 30 cases); People v. Cameron, 53 Cal. App. 3d 786, 796, 126 Cal. Rptr. 44, 50
(1975) (women are 15 times more likely to be victims of spousal assaults); Howard,
Husband- Wife Homicide.- An Essay from a Family Law Perspective, 49 LAW & CON-
TEMP. PROBS. 63, 70 n.40 (1986) (94 to 98% of victims are women). Moreover, the
effects that sustained abuse has on women, see infra Part I, have not been found in the
few male victims of spousal abuse; such abuse is qualitatively different from that ex-
perienced by women. Howard, supra, at 70-71 n.40; see also Berk, Berk, Loseke &
Rauma, Mutual Combat and Other Family Violence Myths, in THE DARK SIDE OF
Gelles eds. 1983); Gayford, Battered Wives, in VIOLENCE AND THE FAMILY 19, 19 (J.
Martin ed. 1978) (number of battered husbands is very small because men are physically
stronger and have less difficulty leaving home); Case/Comment, Battered Wives Who
Kill: Double Standard Out of Court, Single Standard In?, 2 LAW & HUM. BEHAV. 133,
133 n.l (1978).
3 See Comment, The Battered Woman's Syndrome Defense, 34 U. KAN. L. REV. 337,

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