Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family and sexual violence
This paper contexualises ANROWS’s research on the close links between imprisonment and domestic and family violence (DFV) and sexual violence.
These links are poorly understood, but are crucial in addressing cycles of violence/imprisonment, and providing support services to women who have experienced both violence and imprisonment.
This synthesis is designed for policymakers and practitioners engaging with people affected by domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment. It is also relevant for those who are developing policy frameworks addressing domestic, family and sexual violence; imprisonment; housing; mental health; substance use; and related issues.
- There are well-established links between women’s experiences of domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment.
- Women can become caught in cycles of imprisonment and experiencing violence: violence increases the risk and effects of imprisonment, and imprisonment increases the risk and effects of violence.
- Provision of accessible, affordable housing is fundamental to addressing both DFV and imprisonment.
- Women in prison who have experienced DFV and/or sexual violence require holistic, consistent care.
- Services and legal responses must be developed to respond to the specific needs of this cohort and create clear pathways to support.
- Coordinated, wraparound services are necessary for women released from prison who are experiencing DFV and/or sexual violence.
- Services for women released from prison who are experiencing DFV and/or sexual violence need to operate in ways that do not reinscribe criminality.
- Culturally appropriate responses are imperative to addressing DFV and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Increasing judicial understanding of DFV and sexual violence is imperative to fair implementation of sentencing policies.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2020). Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family, and sexual violence: Research synthesis (ANROWS Insights, 03/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.