“That’s not me anymore”: Resistance strategies for managing intersectional stigmas for women with substance use and incarceration histories


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Significant previous research has focused on how individuals experience stigma when interacting with the public sphere and service agencies; the purpose of this grounded theory study is to explore how formerly incarcerated mothers with histories of substance use experience stigmas from their intimate relationships with family and romantic partners. Using an intersectionality lens, this study reveals that the women perceived multiple stigmas due to their previous substance use, incarceration, and other addiction-related behaviors that challenged their roles as mothers and romantic partners. Compounding the behavioral-related stigmas were race and class-based stereotypes of black criminality that also challenged women’s ability to embody key motherhood and womanhood roles. As a result, the women employed resistance strategies to safeguard against stigma and preserve their recovery. The implications for practice underscore the significance of addressing personal experiences of stigma, complex relational dynamics, and understanding the needs of support systems that are also shaped by the women’s cycles of incarceration and illness.

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