Sexual violence is a violation that causes severe traumatic pain, conflict, and confusion in the lives of women who were victims of sexual abuse as children. Many women today who have suffered such sexual violation such as molestation, rape, sexual assault and incest find themselves incarcerated because of their life’s downward spiral compared to women who have never suffered at the hands of maltreatment of a predator that preys on the innocence of young
Keywords: Sexual violence, incarceration, sexual assault, abuse, traumatic pain
Sexual Abuse from a Normal Life to an Incarcerated Life
Reported sexual abuse among women in the 20th century have become wide spread. The #MeToo Movement has become powerfully known through social media and other media sources, in helping to spread the awareness of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse to women all around world although impartially takes away from the initial roots of it. This now popular movement was initially founded by youth activist, Tarana Burke stated that this movement is about ‘the far reaching power of empathy.’ (Vagianos, 2018) Young girls and survivors of childhood sexual abuse have been the face of me too. The pain, guilt, and shame often turn beautiful little girls into raging young women full of self-hate, suicidal thoughts, shame and dysfunctional relationships.
The life of abuse often leads to crime, this is not uncommon for women who have suffered as children victimized by sexual abuse. Reports indicate that one in four girls are sexual abused as children, compared to boys who are one in seven reported abuse. This was stated as being before they even reach the age of 18. According to the records 91 % of reports come from sexual assault of female victims then the 9% that are of male victims. (Center, 2015). Between 33.5% of culprits who explicitly abuse young girls are relatives, while just 10-20% of the individuals who explicitly abuse young boys are often outside close family circle. (Center, 2015) A Study was taken in Oregon finding that 96% of the females placed in juvenile detention center in that state shared that they had been sexually abuse before they committed a crime. (Gunasekera, 2018)
Life after Sexual Assault
Youth sexual abuse trauma have for quite some time been observationally and evidently connected to challenges with feelings of constant emotional distress. It has been contended that youth rape and molestation, can be problematic to the advancement of ordinary, healthy emotions that allow youth to have the developmental skills to expand properly into adulthood. Because of the traumatic experiences psychological disorders often follow. Disturbances to the improvement of development and learning skills can result in difficulties through an individual’s life. Because of this one may have overly excessive emotions, viewing their feelings to be hazardous and erratic, or potentially lacking with regards to the capacity to control feelings of anger, shame, embarrassment, and unhealthy detachment of their self-image. (Johnson, 2013)
According to the research conducted on incarcerated women 64% of the 224 women that were expose to sexual trauma stated it happened to them before they reached the age of fourteen. (Johnson, 2013) Can you imagine what happens to the mind of a child that is taken advantage of sexually before reaching puberty? Some of the negative results begin with chronic stress that stunts the social intelligence, impulsive behaviors, underachievement in their intellectual capacity, depression and anxiety, deprived emotional intelligence, anger, aggression and the list continues beyond the scope referenced above.
The potential hazardous factor from negative psychosocial behavior that was mentioned in the previous paragraph shows how women rate of detainment within the prison system have expanded quite immensely in the last two decades.
Consequently these women primary sexual encounter was abuse in their early childhood.(Johnson, 2013) The investigation further showed
that these very same females had issues with delinquency, addictions of all kinds, which is some point progresses overtime and forms an extensive criminal history. (Bloom, 2003)
Case Study Sample on Women Sexual Abuse
In a sample taken where the history of abuse was reported, among incarcerated women verses non- incarcerated women, the numbers did not show a significant difference. We can say that not all abuse leads to a life behind bars. But according to the article ‘Victimization is high for all women in the Study.’ (Women, 2011) In the sample case study there was a total of 266 women who took part, 157 of those women were in fact incarcerated while 106 weren’t. The finding of this study showed that these women that were incarcerated were in fact abused as children and would face victimization again in their lives. Not only would they face abuse again but would be repeat criminal offenders and the endless cycle continues until some kind of intervention takes place.
Women on average who have never been abused most likely wouldn’t find themselves indulging in activities that would destroy their self-image, identity and life. Often time’s for these girls life begins adventurous, happy, optimistic, and exciting until sexual abuse takes place in a young girl’s life. From that point on life goes into a downward spiral. Reports state that somewhere in the range of 1980 and 2006, the number of Women in jail skyrocketed an overwhelming 800 percent. The circumstance is considerably more terrible for minorities, who makeup two— thirds of all imprisoned women. Tragically, most women in jail have been charged for simple wrongdoings like theft, drug possession or prostitution, and even the fierce guilty women who have done horrible crimes and have grievous stories of what lead them to this life. For instance, up to 90 % of women were prosecuted for killing a man were victims of abuse by a man. (Delvin, 2014)
As we look deeper into the ‘why’, we find women incarcerated at this alarming rate because trauma in sexual abuse according to (Museum, n.d.) Most ladies in prison come from neighborhoods that are settled in destitution and generally ailing of social help. Second, alarmingly vast quantities of these ladies have encountered intense physical or potential sexual maltreatment, frequently beginning when they were young girls. Third, as grown-ups, the greater part of these ladies are tormented with large amounts of physical and psychological well-being issues and in addition substance misuse issues.
In conclusion, we can generally determine that this pattern of behavior just does not come from thin air. For majority of these women trauma has stricken them early on in life. This further proves as a woman you have a better chance of coming out of our society physically and emotionally healthy if you’ve never been sexually violated in most cases as a child. Although the hashtag me-too movement is significant and apparently changing our views pertaining to how we perceive sexual abuse will it change the way women incarcerated that are also survivors of sexual abuse.
- Bloom, S. S. (2003). Gendered Justice: Women in the Criminal Justice System . Addressing Female Offenders , 7.
- Center, N. S. (2015). PfctimsofCrimes.org. Retrieved from Statistics about Sexual Violence : http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc factsheet mediapacket statistics-about-sexual-violence O.pdf
- Delvin, M. (2014, July 17). listvers.com. Retrieved from 10 Gripping Facts About Women in Prison: http://listverse.com/2014/07/17/10-gripping-facts-about-women-in-prison/
- Gunasekera, Y. (2018, 11 27). Marie Claire . Retrieved from How One Womans Sexual Abuse Resulted behind Bars: https://www.mariecIaire.com/politics/a20651072/sex-abuse-toprison-pipeline/
- Johnson, K. &. (2013). Predictors of Maladaptive Coping in Incarcerated Women Who are Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 28(1), 43—52.
- Museum, C. (n.d.). Crime Museums. Retrieved from Women behind Bar: https://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/famous-prisons-incarceration/women-inprison/
- Vagianos, A. (2018, 11 30). Huffington post . Retrieved from Tarana Burke: ‘We Have Moved So. Far Away From The Origins’ OfMeToo: https://www.huffngtonpost.com/entty/taranaburke-me-too-backlash us 5c014658e4bOd04f48b373b3
- Women, N. C. (2011). Abuse History Among Incarcerated Women. Philadelphia .