Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Win for Battered Woman Defense by Alex Snider

Barbara Sheehan of Queens was found not guilty of killing her husband, a former police sergeant. She had survived 24 years of physical and emotional abuse before shooting him 11 times. The verdict is monumental for battered woman defense and for domestic abuse activists in general when so often domestic abuse is ignored or normalized. Hopefully it's a sign of changing times and attitudes.

What I find particularly heartening about the verdict is that her husband was a former police sergeant and given how much of a pedestal our society puts cops on and how infrequently they are held accountable for any misconduct, I am absolutely shocked that she was found not guilty. Guy must have been a worse  monster than usual. Ah, there's my cynicism creeping in again. But really, what's worse than a domestic abuser with society's unconditional approval and a gun? Man oh man...

My heart goes out to her and her children for the hell they must have endured for all those years. I hope they have peace now. 

Exciting times when the good guys win one. 


  1. YES!!!


    She is the good guy!!

    I'm going to kill the next person who hits me.

  2. Domestic abuse against men is completely ignored. Try reversing the genders in this story: if a battered husband murdered his wife, he wouldn't have a cat in Hell's chance of using a crackpot defence like this. The woman had 24 years to do something about the situation, according to her testimony, and did nothing. She is not a hero, and even if she did put up with abuse for this length of time, she was partly responsible for it by staying. There are plenty of resources for battered women, but almost none for battered men.

  3. Oh hey, keep on reading what you want into what I wrote. Did I say she was a hero? Did I say killing abusers was the best way out of abusive relationships? Did I say that men are never abused?

    "The verdict is monumental ... for domestic abuse activists in general when so often domestic abuse is ignored or normalized. Hopefully it's a sign of changing times and attitudes."

    Notice how nothing I wrote is gendered? Except the defense which is actually called that. Give me a break, I'm not responsible for society's ridiculous expectations of masculinity.

    Maybe get a hobby that doesn't involve trolling blogs anonymously searching for a chance to tell women that they need to remember that men also have shitty things happen to them. Or maybe join an activist group for more shelters for male survivors of domestic abuse. Do some fucking good.

    Oh and maybe read up a bit on domestic abuse before suggesting it's easy as pie to just up and leave.

  4. Alex, there is a flaw with this, it was shown in the winkler case, there has to be a line, often when this is done the victim of the murder is alseep or the Janet Redmond-Mercereau incident which is similar as well , also Catherine Kieu Becker case where because he asked for a divorce, well we all know what happened and she claimed abuse. Now we have a 60% of domestic violence victims are women, 40% is men , thats set in stone and has been for decades , however the mass majority of help ( over 90% ) is aimed at women , yet quite often without using these services, or with no historical information of abuse this is being used as a defense against murder .

    All victims male and female need help , and need support , murder isnt a go to as no life is worth being lost , or giving it up after killing, There is an article written by Erin Pizzey , the woman who opened the first DV shelter in the world before she was driven from it by feminists who actually went so far as to kill her dog, she writes on the subject of this as a defense.

    I can see your leaning by the wording of your posts but i would urge you to look at DV as a genderless crime, just victims and abusers , its the only way we can move forward, and i implore you to read Erins words, she is an amazing woman.

  5. and before i get the same treatment as the previous poster, im involved with several groups trying to get funding for men in scotland who experience abuse at the hands of women , and also to get money to help those in lesbian relationships, two demographics that are ignored simply because of the refusal to see females are perpetrators of violence, this needs to change.

  6. Your defense of this ridiculous ruling is repulsive. Was there any evidence of 911 calls, police responses, hosptial visits, neighbors hearing the abuse? The only thing we heard was that her children said there were "millions" of incidents - but no collateral evidence? A child trying to save his/her mother is all it takes, and woman can shoot a man in the back, empty the weapon, pick up another weapon and shoot some more? Really? This is one twisted society we're living in if you can cheer that.

  7. A video of battered women confronting their imagination: