This article presents a theoretical examination of victims’ (N = 28) experiences when trying to rebuild a victimization-free identity after having experienced multiple years of severe intimate partner violence (IPV). Narratives reveal experiences of victim-blaming attitudes when seeking help from informal and general formal support sources, which suggest that victims of IPV do not meet the criteria of the ‘ideal’, innocent victim worthy of ongoing formal and informal support. Drawing on criminological theories of redemption and desistance, in combination with victimological theories around social stigma and construction of the ‘ideal victim’, the study finds that victims often feel they have to redeem themselves as worthy of empathy in order to access ongoing support. These misplaced expectations of ‘desistance’ with the victim rather than the perpetrator highlight that the social stigma associated with IPV goes beyond the private nature of this type of violence and extends to victim behavior and decision making.
- domestic violence
- intimate partner violence