Book Launch: Defending Battered Women on Trial, Lessons from the Transcripts

2014 06 Mar
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Book Launch: Defending Battered Women on Trial, Lessons from the Transcripts

Hosted by Shari Graydon, please join us for a celebration of this groundbreaking book "Defending Battered Women on Trial, Lessons from the Transcripts" with author Elizabeth Sheehy.

In the landmark Lavallee decision of 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that evidence of "battered woman syndrome" was admissible in establishing self-defence for women accused of killing their abusive partners. This book looks at the legal response to battered women who killed their partners in the fifteen years since Lavallee. 

Elizabeth Sheehy uses trial transcripts and a detailed case study approach to tell, for the first time, the stories of eleven women, ten of whom killed their partners and one who did not. She looks at the barriers women face to "just leaving," how self-defence was argued in these cases, and which form of expert testimony was used to frame women’s experience of battering. Drawing upon a rich expanse of research from many disciplines, including law, psychology, history, sociology, women’s studies, and social work, she highlights the limitations of the law of self-defence, the successful strategies of defence lawyers, the costs to women undergoing a murder trial, and the serious difficulties of credibility that they face when testifying. In a final chapter, she proposes numerous reforms. 

In Canada, a woman is killed every six days by her male partner, and about twelve women per year kill their male partners. By illuminating the cases of eleven women, this book highlights the barriers to leaving violent men and the practical and legal dilemmas that face battered women on trial for murder. 

For more info about this book:

Thursday, March 6 2014
@ 25One Community (2nd floor, 251 Bank St.)

This event is sponsored and supported by UBC Press, Canadian Centre for Policies Alternative (CCPA), Feminist Alliances for International Action (FAFIA-AFAI), Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa, Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Informed Opinions, Harmony House, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

Listen to Elizabeth Sheehy's interviews about her new book:

Do Abused Women Have the Right to Kill their Partners? Anna Maria Tremonti speaks with Elizabeth Sheehy on CBC's The Current. 

Meghan Murphy interviews Elizabeth Sheehy about her book at



About the Author:

Elizabeth A. Sheehy is Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women and the Legal Profession in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. She is a leading scholar on the legal system’s treatment of battered women in Canada. In 2013, she was awarded the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law by the Canadian Bar Association, an annual award that recognizes outstanding contributions to law in Canada.

What do you think?: