In this article, female identity is explored through an analysis of the lived body experience of domestic violence survivors. Qualitative interviews focused on the conceptual relationships between eight survivors and their bodies. The female body, as it is degraded and sexualized in patriarchal Western culture, is socially accepted as the core of female identity. Along with body awareness, the very identities of the abused women in this study seem to disappear, and we argue that this is largely made possible by these systems of patriarchal domination and definition. We also suggest the possibility of reclaiming the female self by reconnecting with the body. Based on the women's responses, we explore the feasibility of various recreational activities (e.g., sports, camping, hiking) as a means of reconnection and probe the ways that patriarchal norms may affect this aspect of recovery. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.