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. The narrator may also take different positions during different phases of the story. However, the dominant narrative among the narrators is the story of the caring mother, which may have several functions and can partially be understood as a sign of the strong discourse of motherhood in society. The study contributes to a more profound understanding of the complexity related to women's own positioning and reveals that awareness is required when attempting to understand the narratives and behavior of abused women.
Keywords: battered women; criminology; domestic violence; perceptions of domestic violence.