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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

The Aboriginal population and experiences of abuse

The Survey pointed out that abuse played "... a far more widespread part in the lives of native women" (Shaw et al., 1990, p.30), compared to non-native women. It indicated that 90% of Aboriginal and 61% of non-Aboriginal women had been physically abused, whereas 61% of Aboriginal and 50% of non-Aboriginal women had been sexually abused. Tables 10 and 11 show findings from this study with respect to indicated childhood/adolescent and adulthood experiences of abuse in the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sample.

Table 10 shows that in the OIA Review sample, 75.9% of Aboriginal women for whom information was available, indicated childhood/adolescent experiences of abuse (i.e. gave a general statement or described a specific type of abuse), whereas these experiences were indicated in the case of 55.6% of non-Aboriginal women. Also, a smaller percentage of Aboriginal women (10.8%) stated that they did not experience any type of abuse, compared to the non-Aboriginal women (21.6%).

Table 10

Indications of Childhood/Adolescent Experiences According to Aboriginal vs. Non-Aboriginal Status

   

Aboriginal

(N=83)a

Non-Aboriginal

(N=282)b

 

n

%

n

%

General statements of abuse

21

(25.3)

56

(19.8)

Specific type(s) of abuse

42

(50.6)

101

(35.8)

No experiences of any abuse

9

(10.8)

61

(21.6)

Positive/supportive environment

8

(9.6)

54

(19.1)

Note. Information on racial backgrounds was not available for 21 women [general (8), specific (5), no abuse (3), positive (4), information on abuse not available (1) ]

a Information was not available for 5 Aboriginal women.

b Information was not available for 35 non-Aboriginal women

As shown in Table 11, experiences of abuse during adulthood were indicated by 95.9% of the Aboriginal (i.e. gave a general statement or describe a specific type of abuse), whereas in the non-Aboriginal sample the figure was 72.4%. Only 4.1% of Aboriginal women and 27.6% of non-Aboriginal women stated that they did not experience any type of abuse during their adulthood.

Table 11

Indications of Adulthood Experiences According to Aboriginal vs. Non-Aboriginal Status

   

Aboriginal

(N=74)a

Non-Aboriginal

(N=232)b

 

n

%

n

%

General statements of abuse

26

(35.1)

61

(26.3)

Specific type(s) of abuse

45

(60.8)

107

(46.1)

No experiences of any abuse

3

(4.1)

64

(27.6)

         

Note. Information on racial backgrounds was not available for 21 women [general (3), specific (6), no abuse (7), no information (5)].

a Information was not available for 14 Aboriginal women.

b Information was not available for 85 non-Aboriginal women.

A chi square analysis was performed to examine the differences between the two groups (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in respect to the prevalence of abuse in childhood/adolescence and adulthood. Women's indications of specific types of abuse and their general statements on these experiences were collapsed into one category. A statistically significant difference between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women [(_2 (1, N = 365) = 10.13, p>.01)] was found, indicating that childhood abuse was to a considerably greater extent present, or indicated to have been present, in the case of Aboriginal women, compared to non-Aboriginal. Similarly, significantly more Aboriginal women indicated or described experiences of abuse during adulthood [(_2 (1, N = 311) = 19.20, p> .001)]. These results should be interpreted with some caution since there was a high proportion of missing data for the non-Aboriginal sample (approximately 27%), which may have biased the results. However, the findings of this study are quite consistent with those of the Survey in clearly indicating that experiences of abuse were prevalent among incarcerated Aboriginal women in both samples.