Article

Histories of childhood victimization and subsequent mental health problems, substance use, and sexual victimization for a sample of incarcerated women in the US

Florida State University, College of Social Work, 296 Champions Way, University Center C, Tallahassee, FL 32306, United States. Electronic address: .
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.19). 11/2012; 36(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.11.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Women are entering US prisons at nearly double the rate of men and are the fastest growing prison population. Current extant literature focuses on the prevalence of the incarceration of women, but few studies exist that emphasize the different trajectories to prison. For example, women prisoners have greater experiences of prior victimization, more reports of mental illness, and higher rates of illicit substance use. The purpose of this study was to understand the prevalence of childhood victimization and its association with adult mental health problems, substance abuse disorders, and further sexual victimization. The research team interviewed a random sample of 125 women prisoners soon to be released from prison to gather information on their childhood physical and sexual victimization, mental health and substance abuse problems as an adult, and sexual victimization in the year preceding incarceration. Results indicate that women prisoners in this sample, who were both physically and sexually victimized as children, were more likely to be hospitalized as an adult for a psychological or emotional problem. Women who were sexually victimized or both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to attempt suicide. Women who experienced physical victimization as children and women who were both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to have a substance use disorder and women who were sexually abused as children or both physically and sexually victimized were more likely to be sexually abused in the year preceding prison. This article ends with a discussion about prisons' role in providing treatment for women prisoners and basing this treatment on women's trajectories to prison, which disproportionately include childhood victimization and subsequent mental health and substance use problems.

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    • "Although, of course, not all individuals who experience abuse suffer long-term adverse effects (e.g., Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 1998; Thomas & Hall, 2008), mental health issues and substance misuse are more commonly reported by persons with histories of CV (Asberg & Renk, 2012; Brennan, Breitenbach, Dieterich, Salisbury, & van Voorhis, 2012; DeHart, 2009; Ford, Grasso, Hawke, & Chapman, 2013; Islam-Zwart & Vik, 2004; Kennedy et al., 2013; Roe-Sepowitz, Bedard, & Pate, 2007; Salisbury & Van Voorhis, 2009; Tripodi & Pettus-Davis, 2013). Depression, symptoms of psychosis, and substance misuse are prevalent among samples of incarcerated women (James & Glaze, 2006; Kennedy et al., 2013; Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2007; Tripodi & Pettus-Davis, 2013). Although mental health issues and substance misuse are conceptualized as discrete experiences, such experiences are rarely mutually exclusive. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study uses the dose–response model to examine the relationships between childhood victimization events and subsequent depression, symptoms of psychosis, and substance misuse in a sample of 230 randomly selected incarcerated women in the United States. Results on the frequency of victimization were mixed. In this sample, both frequency of physical abuse and frequency of sexual abuse significantly predicted current symptoms of psychosis, but only frequency of physical abuse significantly predicted substance misuse. Incarcerated women who experienced multivictimization were 5.7 times as likely to report depression, 4.2 times as likely to report current symptoms of psychosis, and 3.8 times as likely to meet criteria for a substance use disorder. Results indicate that adjusting prison-based interventions to address multivictimization may improve outcomes and reduce recidivism among this population. 2015
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    • "Incarcerated women are likely to have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse, both as children and as adults (Blackburn, Mullings, & Marquart, 2008; McDaniels-Wilson & Belknap, 2008; Tripodi & Pettus-Davis, 2013; Van den Bergh et al., 2011). Incarcerated women are also more likely to have sexual assault as adults, especially rape, compared to similar populations outside of prison (Severson, Postmus, & Berry, 2005). "
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    • "Research has also identified cases in which abusive partners falsely accuse women of criminal activity and manipulate the criminal legal system to entrap women into arrest and incarceration (Finn & Bettis, 2006; Pollack, Battaglia, & Allspach, 2005; Wolf, Ly, Hobart, & Kernic, 2003; also see Richie, 1996). Rajah, Frye, and Haviland (2006) refer to such cases as " retaliatory arrest " and provided case examples of batterers manipulating the legal system to have their partners arrested. "

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