Compton scattering is one of the fundamental interaction processes of light with matter. When discovered1, it was described as a billiard-type collision of a photon `kicking' a quasi-free electron. With decreasing photon energy, the maximum possible momentum transfer becomes so small that the corresponding energy falls below the binding energy of the electron. In this regime, ionization by Compton scattering becomes an intriguing quantum phenomenon. Here, we report on a kinematically complete experiment studying Compton scattering off helium atoms in that regime. We determine the momentum correlations of the electron, the recoiling ion and the scattered photon in a coincidence experiment based on cold target recoil ion momentum spectroscopy, finding that electrons are not only emitted in the direction of the momentum transfer, but that there is a second peak of ejection to the backward direction. This finding links Compton scattering to processes such as ionization by ultrashort optical pulses2, electron impact ionization3,4, ion impact ionization5,6 and neutron scattering7, where similar momentum patterns occur.