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Imprisonment of Survivors of Domestic Violence

According to the 1994 National Criminal Victimization Survey, more than 90% of incidents that were violent had female victims. It is also known that women experience 10 times more violent incidents from an intimate partner than men do.

Specifically, for women in prison there is a higher risk for them to have experienced some form of domestic or sexual violence, especially for women who are incarcerated for killing their abusive partners.

In the journal article "Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill,"a study was done where 100% of the prisoner respondents reported they had experienced physical abuse in adulthood, while 59% said it was from adult relationships.

The specific legal outcomes for women who have killed their abusers vary despite having been protecting themselves from their abusers. In the same study, most of the sentencing lengths were 20+- 30 to life. There were only 2 women who were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, while the others were convicted with second and first degree murder.

Despite having little to no criminal or violent histories, these women were still given harsh sentences. This shows a possibility of a bias against battered women who kill their abusers. The criminal justice system has its many flaws not only against women, but against minority women as well.


Nurse, Anne & Leonard, Elizabeth. (2003). Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill. Contemporary Sociology. 32. 762. 10.2307/1556687.

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