Together, Shirley, Carlene and Ruby have collectively spent over eighty-five years in Missouri State prison having each been convicted of killing their abusive husbands. Beaten, raped, sold, abused and nearly killed, these women suffered for years prior to the crimes. Denied the opportunity to enter their abuse into evidence during trial, each of the women now represents a system broken by media-sensationalized stereotypes and an outdated understanding of domestic abuse.
A beacon of hope arrives when a group of impassioned lawyers and law students form the Missouri Battered Women’s Coalition. Once the group plucks these women from a number of worthy cases, they begin a decade and a half long quest to secure their freedom. Having already been abused once by their husbands, and again by the notoriously secretive Missouri parole board who determine their fate, the three women have advocates on their side for the first time. Now, Shirley, Carlene and Ruby become active partners in directing their own destiny as they learn to finally fight back for their freedom.
Meanwhile, another crime occurs decades later when Tanya kills her abusive husband. When given poor legal advice, she takes a manslaughter plea and is given the maximum sentence for her crime. Without the involvement of the clemency coalition, Tanya slowly deteriorates under the weight of her guilt and the terror of her memories.
The Perfect Victim examines these women both as unique case studies and as commentary on our society's lack of understanding and support for victims of domestic abuse. Has the legal and gender-based bias surrounding this issue created the unattainable image of “The Perfect Victim”?