Women prisoners’ sexual victimisation: ongoing vulnerabilities and possible responses

Lorana BARTELS, Patricia EASTEAL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the incidence and impact of exposure to sexual victimisation for women in the criminal justice system. Key ongoing vulnerabilities in respect of mental health and substance abuse, and their contribution to women’s offending, are examined. Treatment responses to address these women’s trauma in custodial settings are then discussed. It is argued that a therapeutic approach is required to provide a holistic response to victimised women offenders. Unfortunately, instead of doing so, many prisons’ ethos and approaches may actually produce a further layer of vulnerability. The paper concludes with commentary on future directions for research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers undertook a desk-based literature review, using search terms such as “women”, “corrections”, “sexual abuse and/or victimisation” and “trauma”. The literature was analysed through a feminist framework, adopting a vulnerability paradigm. Findings: The paper analyses the incidence and impact of sexual victimisation on women prisoners and notes that comprehensive trauma-informed care in custodial settings is needed but highly problematic within a prison context. Research limitations/implications: The researchers focused primarily on Australia, and the conclusions may therefore be of more limited relevance to imprisoned women in other countries. Practical implications: The paper suggests good practice requirements for delivering trauma-informed care to victimised women prisoners. Non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment are likely to be more sensitive to many female offenders’ layers of vulnerability. Originality/value: This paper highlights the relationship between women offenders’ sexual victimisation histories, substance abuse, mental illness and offending behaviour, and demonstrates the need for and challenges in delivering trauma-informed care. The originality derives from the examination of the three rules of abuse (and prisons) and how they correlate with multiple vulnerabilities, which leads to the conclusion that prison is not the best place for rehabilitation of most women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-216
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Fingerprint

Prisoners
Crime Victims
prisoner
victimization
vulnerability
Prisons
trauma
correctional institution
Wounds and Injuries
offender
substance abuse
Substance-Related Disorders
Custodial Care
incidence
Research Personnel
Illness Behavior
Criminal Law
Incidence
Sex Offenses
imprisonment

Cite this

@article{86cbb5547e8f444389fa91de482984be,
title = "Women prisoners’ sexual victimisation: ongoing vulnerabilities and possible responses",
abstract = "Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the incidence and impact of exposure to sexual victimisation for women in the criminal justice system. Key ongoing vulnerabilities in respect of mental health and substance abuse, and their contribution to women’s offending, are examined. Treatment responses to address these women’s trauma in custodial settings are then discussed. It is argued that a therapeutic approach is required to provide a holistic response to victimised women offenders. Unfortunately, instead of doing so, many prisons’ ethos and approaches may actually produce a further layer of vulnerability. The paper concludes with commentary on future directions for research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers undertook a desk-based literature review, using search terms such as “women”, “corrections”, “sexual abuse and/or victimisation” and “trauma”. The literature was analysed through a feminist framework, adopting a vulnerability paradigm. Findings: The paper analyses the incidence and impact of sexual victimisation on women prisoners and notes that comprehensive trauma-informed care in custodial settings is needed but highly problematic within a prison context. Research limitations/implications: The researchers focused primarily on Australia, and the conclusions may therefore be of more limited relevance to imprisoned women in other countries. Practical implications: The paper suggests good practice requirements for delivering trauma-informed care to victimised women prisoners. Non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment are likely to be more sensitive to many female offenders’ layers of vulnerability. Originality/value: This paper highlights the relationship between women offenders’ sexual victimisation histories, substance abuse, mental illness and offending behaviour, and demonstrates the need for and challenges in delivering trauma-informed care. The originality derives from the examination of the three rules of abuse (and prisons) and how they correlate with multiple vulnerabilities, which leads to the conclusion that prison is not the best place for rehabilitation of most women.",
keywords = "Substance abuse, Mental illness, Women, Trauma, Prison, Sexual victimization",
author = "Lorana BARTELS and Patricia EASTEAL",
year = "2016",
doi = "10.1108/JCRPP-06-2015-0020",
language = "English",
volume = "2",
pages = "206--216",
journal = "Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice",
issn = "2056-3841",
number = "3",

}

Women prisoners’ sexual victimisation: ongoing vulnerabilities and possible responses. / BARTELS, Lorana; EASTEAL, Patricia.

In: Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2016, p. 206-216.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Women prisoners’ sexual victimisation: ongoing vulnerabilities and possible responses

AU - BARTELS, Lorana

AU - EASTEAL, Patricia

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the incidence and impact of exposure to sexual victimisation for women in the criminal justice system. Key ongoing vulnerabilities in respect of mental health and substance abuse, and their contribution to women’s offending, are examined. Treatment responses to address these women’s trauma in custodial settings are then discussed. It is argued that a therapeutic approach is required to provide a holistic response to victimised women offenders. Unfortunately, instead of doing so, many prisons’ ethos and approaches may actually produce a further layer of vulnerability. The paper concludes with commentary on future directions for research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers undertook a desk-based literature review, using search terms such as “women”, “corrections”, “sexual abuse and/or victimisation” and “trauma”. The literature was analysed through a feminist framework, adopting a vulnerability paradigm. Findings: The paper analyses the incidence and impact of sexual victimisation on women prisoners and notes that comprehensive trauma-informed care in custodial settings is needed but highly problematic within a prison context. Research limitations/implications: The researchers focused primarily on Australia, and the conclusions may therefore be of more limited relevance to imprisoned women in other countries. Practical implications: The paper suggests good practice requirements for delivering trauma-informed care to victimised women prisoners. Non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment are likely to be more sensitive to many female offenders’ layers of vulnerability. Originality/value: This paper highlights the relationship between women offenders’ sexual victimisation histories, substance abuse, mental illness and offending behaviour, and demonstrates the need for and challenges in delivering trauma-informed care. The originality derives from the examination of the three rules of abuse (and prisons) and how they correlate with multiple vulnerabilities, which leads to the conclusion that prison is not the best place for rehabilitation of most women.

AB - Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the incidence and impact of exposure to sexual victimisation for women in the criminal justice system. Key ongoing vulnerabilities in respect of mental health and substance abuse, and their contribution to women’s offending, are examined. Treatment responses to address these women’s trauma in custodial settings are then discussed. It is argued that a therapeutic approach is required to provide a holistic response to victimised women offenders. Unfortunately, instead of doing so, many prisons’ ethos and approaches may actually produce a further layer of vulnerability. The paper concludes with commentary on future directions for research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers undertook a desk-based literature review, using search terms such as “women”, “corrections”, “sexual abuse and/or victimisation” and “trauma”. The literature was analysed through a feminist framework, adopting a vulnerability paradigm. Findings: The paper analyses the incidence and impact of sexual victimisation on women prisoners and notes that comprehensive trauma-informed care in custodial settings is needed but highly problematic within a prison context. Research limitations/implications: The researchers focused primarily on Australia, and the conclusions may therefore be of more limited relevance to imprisoned women in other countries. Practical implications: The paper suggests good practice requirements for delivering trauma-informed care to victimised women prisoners. Non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment are likely to be more sensitive to many female offenders’ layers of vulnerability. Originality/value: This paper highlights the relationship between women offenders’ sexual victimisation histories, substance abuse, mental illness and offending behaviour, and demonstrates the need for and challenges in delivering trauma-informed care. The originality derives from the examination of the three rules of abuse (and prisons) and how they correlate with multiple vulnerabilities, which leads to the conclusion that prison is not the best place for rehabilitation of most women.

KW - Substance abuse

KW - Mental illness

KW - Women

KW - Trauma

KW - Prison

KW - Sexual victimization

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85029375672&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.mendeley.com/research/women-prisoners-sexual-victimisation-ongoing-vulnerabilities-possible-responses

U2 - 10.1108/JCRPP-06-2015-0020

DO - 10.1108/JCRPP-06-2015-0020

M3 - Article

VL - 2

SP - 206

EP - 216

JO - Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

JF - Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

SN - 2056-3841

IS - 3

ER -