By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
This month at See the Triumph, we are focused on the theme, “No Stigma/Only Triumph” and are sharing information and resources to help change the way that society views survivors of IPV -- to a more triumphant, courageous, and positive view rather than some of the negative perceptions that still exist.
When we started our campaign in 2013, one of our ultimate goals was to decrease stigma and uplift survivors. We are proud to say that one day at a time, we are reaching our goal. With every new Facebook follower, link to a news story, guest blog, or quote from a survivor in our research study, we are slowly but surely decreasing the stigma that exists.
What exactly do we mean by the term, stigma, though? And how does stigma impact survivors? Here is a summary of the term, as well as the types and components of stigma.
Stigma has been defined as a product of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. Various types of stigmas exist related to IPV, and some of our most recent research, along with Nicole Overstreet from Clark University, has revealed a Model that includes each of these types: (a) Anticipated Stigma: Expectations that others will react in stigmatizing ways if they find out about stigmatizing identity; refers to people’s belief that others will discriminate against or socially reject them; (b) Internalized Stigma: The extent to which people come to believe and endorse negative and stigmatizing views about themselves (i.e., based on views that are perpetuated in larger community); (c) Enacted Stigma: Perceptions of discrimination and prejudice experienced from others, as well as the extent to which people feel they have been the targets of others’ prejudice (e.g., negative comments, public humiliation, being denied housing, physical threats); (d) Cultural Stigma: Ideologies that delegitimize experiences of IPV (e.g., the belief that IPV victims provoke their own victimization), as well as the ways that negative beliefs and stereotypes about IPV at the societal level influence the experience of IPV stigmatization at individual and interpersonal levels; (e) Perpetrator Stigma: Stigmatizing messages directly from one’s perpetrator, which can include emotionally, verbally, and/or psychologically abusive actions that perpetuate the stigma surrounding IPV.
In addition to the types of stigma, we have also studied four main components, or parts, of stigma: blame, isolation, negative emotions, and loss of status. Definitions of these terms are: (a) Blame: Holding survivors responsible for their own abuse; (b) Isolation: Survivors feeling and/or being treated as separated and apart from others as a result of the abuse; (c) Negative Emotions: Shame and other painful emotions felt about oneself, caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcomings, or impropriety. These can result in secrecy (i.e., hiding or concealing the abuse); (d) Loss of Status: Being viewed as “less than” or not as valued or as powerful, or not taken as seriously as others who have not experienced abuse. Taken together, the Model we have developed combines the sources with components of stigma, resulting in 30 unique categories of stigma faced by survivors of IPV.
Now that we’ve described this, we want to hear from you. What type(s) of stigmas impact you the most? And what component of the term stigma fits best for your situation? Do our descriptions seem to match your experience, or are there parts of stigma that we might be missing? Help us continue to fight against this stigma by telling us how it applies to you.