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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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Parenting Roles And Experiences Of Abuse In Women Offenders: Review Of The Offender Intake Assessments

Indicated childhood/adolescent experiences of abuse

Table 6 shows that a total of 60.5% of women for whom information on childhood/adolescent experiences was available indicated abuse. A general indication of abuse was given by 22.1% of women, whereas 38.4% of women indicated specific types of abuse they suffered during childhood/adolescence.

Table 6

Indications of Women's Childhood/Adolescent Experiences

   

OIAs Review

(N=385)a

 

n

%

General statements of abuse

85

(22.1)

Specific type(s) of abuse

148

(38.4)

No experiences of any abuse

73

(19.0)

Positive/supportive environment

66

(17.1)

Experiences characterized in other ways

13

(3.4)

Note. a Information on childhood/adolescence experiences was missing for 41 women.

Although others who made some reference to their childhood/adolescence experiences did not refer to them in terms of abuse, it is important to keep in mind that the absence of naming them as abuse does not necessarily mean that abuse did not occur.

Table 7 shows specific types of abuse that 38.4% of women indicated. Physical and sexual abuse were noted in over 60% of cases, and it was also clear that many women suffered multiple types of abuse.

Table 7

Indicated Types of Abuse in Childhood/Adolescence

   

OIAs Review

(N=148)a

 

n

%

Physical

100

(67.6)

Sexual

94

(63.5)

Emotional

53

(35.8)

Note. A woman may be represented more than once and for that reason percentages do not sum to 100.

a Information on childhood/adolescent experiences was missing for 41 women. In the case of 85 women, only a general indication of abuse was provided and they were not included in this table.

In some instances, information on the abuser was also available. Based on the limited information available, it seems that in the case of physical abuse, fathers were the most frequent abusers, followed by mothers and then both parents. In the case of sexual abuse, the most frequently perpetrators were: relatives, more than one family member, and others (babysitters, neighbors, etc.). Emotional abusers were most frequently mothers, followed by fathers.

It is clear that experiences coded as "specific types of abuse" represent a very heterogeneous group. In some cases, abusers were close family members and the abuse occurred repeatedly within a violent and unstable family atmosphere. In other instances, abusers were not known, or not well known, to the woman, and she may have otherwise lived in a fairly stable family environment. This becomes relevant given that information on the contexts within which the abuse occurred may shed additional light on the meaning and the consequences that the abuse may have for women. However, given the insufficient information, it was not possible to explore this issue further in this study.