The objective of this article is to analyze how women who have been victims
of intimate partner violence (IPV) position themselves in relation to the
image of the “ideal victim” and how gender is constructed in that positioning.
There is a need for a gender analysis framework to understand how various
forms of femininity are constructed and how narratives linked to this can
either maintain a woman in an abusive relationship or encourage her to
leave. Christie’s theory of the “ideal victim” and Connell’s gender theory
are applied in this study, in which the narratives of 14 female IPV victims in
Sweden are analyzed using a narrative method. Three strings of narratives,
representing different forms of femininity, are revealed in the material.
The master narrative of the ideal victim reveals a form of femininity that
describes women as inferior in relation to men. In the alternative narrative,
the narrator positions herself as inferior in relation to the offender but
discusses resistance. She describes herself as a caring mother who risks a
great deal to protect her children. In the counter-narrative, the narrator
positions herself as strong and independent in relation to the offender and
as a strong and caring mother. The positioning of different narrators may
shift depending on the duration of the relationship and the type of violence.