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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 experiences of abuse in adulthood

Table 8 shows that altogether 75.4% of women for whom information was available indicated experiences of abuse in adulthood (i.e. gave a general statement or indicted a specific type of abuse). OIAs of a fairly high number of women (104 or 24.4% of the entire sample) contained no information about abuse during adulthood, which may affect the accuracy of the provided estimates.

Table 8

Indications of Women's Adulthood Experiences


OIAs Review





General statements of abuse



Specific type(s) of abuse



No experience of any abuse



Note. a Information was missing for 104 women.

Types of indicated abuse experienced in adulthood are presented in Table 9. In many instances, women experienced multiple types of abuse, physical and verbal being the most frequent (38.6%).

Table 9

Indicated Types of Abuse in Adulthood


OIAs Review





Physical and verbal






Verbal, sexual and physical









Note. a Information on adulthood experiences was missing for 104 women. In the case of 90 women, only a general indication of abuse was provided and they were not included in this table.

Available data, although very limited, suggest that women's abusers in adulthood were most frequently the women's (male) partners. Nevertheless, in reviewing the women's documented accounts of their relationships, two patterns emerged. In the case of approximately half of the women for whom information was available, all of their partners had been abusive. In the case of the other half, although they had experienced abusive relations with one (or some) partners, they also indicated experiences of warm and supportive relationships with others.

Accounts of substance abuse were almost inseparable from those on situations of abuse and violence. The most commonly reported themes were that women resorted to drinking/substance abuse in order to "make it through the day" and to survive the abuse they were exposed to. Another theme that was often present was that their abusers (in most instances partners) were heavy drinkers and would often force women to drink with them. In some instances, women themselves were violent towards their partners and they themselves depicted fights more as a two-way process, in which both sides participated in "attacking" or defending themselves. And finally, some women stated that once they started "fighting back," they noticed that the abuse decreased or stopped entirely.