Domestic violence and sexual abuse are important correlates of HIV risk in women. This paper examines the links between HIV risk and domestic violence in women in a region with the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the United States. The theoretical framework incorporates Butler's (1993) and (1990) concept of performative gender and Collins' (2000) "controlling images" of African American women as a context for domestic violence in the Deep South. Two focus groups were convened to develop a definition of domestic violence as HIV risk; 50 in-depth individual interviews of HIV-positive women were subsequently conducted for specific information on the topic. A final focus group was conducted for verification and feedback. The interview data revealed that controlling images of women as sexualized bodies were enacted through rape, sexual coercion, and name-calling in intimate relationships. The main finding was that the women lacked the ability to control sexual activities (including condom use) in abusive relationships with HIV-positive men. The women used various strategies to escape abusive partners and to obtain treatment for HIV/AIDS. The study concludes that the links between gender inequity, domestic violence, and HIV transmission should appear in prevention materials to encourage domestic violence screening in health settings, and to provide abused women with information on the not-so-obvious risks of being infected in abusive relationships.