Killing the Beast within: Woman Battering and Female Suicidality

  • Stark E
  • Flitcraft A
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Abstract

This article explores the importance of woman battering for female suicidality, with special attention to the link among black women. Suicidality has classically been framed with a distinctly male bias. As a result, suicide attempts (a predominantly female event) have been defined as "failed suicides" and the distinctive social context of suicidality among women has been missed. The authors propose that suicidality among battered women is evoked by the "entrapment" women experience when they are subjected to "coercive control" by abusive men. A literature review highlights the probable importance of male violence as a cause of female suicidality. Pursuing this possibility, we assess the significance of battering in a sample of women who have attempted suicide, the characteristics of battered women who attempt suicide, and the appropriateness of the medical response. The results indicate that battering may be the single most important cause of female suicidality, particularly among black and pregnant women. The implications of this finding for theory and clinical intervention are discussed.

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Authors

  • Evan Stark

  • Anne Flitcraft

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