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Confronting "Victim" Discourses: The Identity Work of Battered Women
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Summer 2006), pp. 307-330
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.2006.29.3.307
Page Count: 24
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In this article I explore how battered women both draw from and reject victim discourses in their processes of self-construction and self-representation. Data gathered from semistructured interviews with forty women who experienced violence from an intimate partner in a heterosexual relationship demonstrate that available "victim" discourses are both enabling and constraining. Four common representations of a victim emerged as most influential to women's identity work: as someone who suffers a harm she cannot control; as someone who deserves sympathy and/or requires some type of action be taken against the victimizer; as someone who is culpable for her experiences; and as someone who is powerless and weak. "Victim empowerment" and "survivor" discourses also played a role in how women understood and made sense of their experiences. In their attempts to construct identities for themselves, battered women become caught between notions of victimization, agency, and responsibility.
Symbolic Interaction © 2006 Wiley