As United States President Joe Biden spends the final days of 2022 on vacation in the US Virgin Islands, the White House has issued five full pardons to individuals involved in drug- and alcohol-related crimes, as well as a sixth for a case of murder.
That case, involving a defendant named Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas, is credited with helping to build an understanding of “battered woman syndrome”, the term for a psychological pattern similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with survivors of domestic violence.
“Battered woman syndrome” has been increasingly used to explain why some survivors resort to violence to protect themselves in situations that might not otherwise meet the legal threshold for self-defence.
The syndrome, and concepts similar to it, have been invoked several high-profile abuse cases, including that of child sex-trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown and Florida mother Marissa Alexander.
Ibn-Tamas was 33 and pregnant at the time she shot and killed her husband, neurosurgeon Abdur Ramad Yussef Ibn-Tamas, on February 23, 1976. The incident took place in their Washington, DC home, which doubled as a medical office.
Prosecutors alleged the shooting was retaliation as Ibn-Tamas’s husband had threatened to throw her out of the house. But Ibn-Tamas consistently maintained that she feared for her life after suffering repeated physical and verbal abuse from her husband, before and during her pregnancy.
According to testimony described in the Washington Post, Ibn-Tamas told jurors that her husband dragged her upstairs after an argument, where he beat her with a hairbrush and gun from a dresser in their bedroom. He ordered her to leave the house, she said, and when she did not, he returned to the bedroom and started to assault her, kicking her in the stomach.
“I saw the pistol [on a dresser],” Ibn-Tamas was quoted in the Washington Post as saying. “He looked like he