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NCJ Number: 229400 Find in a Library
Title: "Fool to Keep Staying": Battered Women Labeling Themselves Stupid as an Expression of Gendered Shame
Journal: Violence Against Women  Volume:16  Issue:1  Dated:January 2010  Pages:5-31
Author(s): Viveka Enander
Date Published: January 2010
Page Count: 27
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This Swedish study examined the dynamics of "gendered shame" among 12 women who had left abusive heterosexual relationships and who labeled themselves "stupid" for allowing themselves to stay in the abusive relationship.
Abstract: The women repeatedly spoke of themselves as feeling stupid and/or described themselves with this term. When the women spoke of feeling or being stupid, they were mainly blaming themselves for staying in the relationship, as they perceived that they allowed or participated in their own abuse. Being fooled or having been manipulated was also mentioned by some women when speaking of their own perceived stupidity. To be judged by others also caused some of the women to feel stupid. In addition, the women felt stupid in allowing their abusers to convince them to stay in the relationship with promises that they would change and that the abuse would not continue. Four frames for interpreting the findings are presented: abusive relationship dynamics, gendered shame, the gender-equality-oriented Nordic context, and leaving processes. The author concludes that feeling and labeling oneself as stupid is an expression of gendered shame. The gendered portion of the shame pertains to their submissive position as women relative to men, and the shame comes from having accepted their submission to ongoing abuse without having asserted themselves by leaving the abusive relationship. It is imperative that after leaving abusive men, women are assisted in understanding that having been abused does not warrant a negative label that undermines their self-esteem, which is an important part of their development of autonomy. The current study stemmed from a previous study of women's breakups from abusive relationships (Enander and Holmberg, 2008; Holmberg and Enander, 2004, 2007). Informants were interviewed twice within a period of 1 to 3 weeks, using a pilot-tested semistructured interview guide. 6 notes and 110 references
Main Term(s): Female victims
Index Term(s): Abused women; Battered women programs; Domestic assault; Foreign criminal justice research; Gender issues; Psychological victimization effects; Self concept; Sweden; Victim counseling; Victims in foreign countries; Victims of violent crime
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