40% of Women in Prison Suffer from Violence-Induced Traumatic Brain Injury

Holy Hormones Journal:

Violence induced brain injury from abuse? And women spend their lives – days, weeks, month or years in prison? Abused, traumatized – incarcerated and abused andwomen behind bars traumatized again? These are women of all backgrounds – since abuse and violence against women knows no educational, or economic status. Just like addictions, abuse does not recognize holidays – and for many women holidays are the worst time for abuse and domestic violence.

Trivializing Rape and Violence

I just read an opinion piece by Lorraine Courtney about the disturbing rise in ‘virtual rapes in video games taking gaming violence to a ‘new level‘. Apparently, gamers can now rape an avatar controlled by someone else and when they are finished – they kill them. And how will this translate to the women in these gamer’s lives?
We see the same type of violence against women on TV shows that are aired in prime time. Teach your children well, right?

Ms. Courtney reminds readers of the biggest-ever study on violence against women published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in March 2014.  33% of women in Europe that is 1 in 3 women who say they have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 (womanhood- time of first menstruation) by a partner or non-partner. Disturbingly, the study found that 55% of all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Is the answer really putting these women in jail? Are these women really criminals? Or are they victims of abuse – and their brain injury.

Talk about the inconvenient woman – and the battered motherboard.

This is not our reality. Period.

A Common Link Among Female Criminals: Brain Injury

Nearly 40 percent of women in prison in Ontario, Canada, have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a study published this month in the Journal of Correctional Health Care.

The study, the first to look at the rate of TBIs among prison populations in Canada, contributes to a growing body of evidence associating blows to the head with a multitude of long-term, negative health outcomes, from homelessness and substance abuse to risky behavior and incarceration.

In revealing the high rate of TBIs among people in prison, particularly among female inmates, the research team hopes to raise awareness of a widespread yet overlooked public health problem.

“TBIs are common, and most are not associated with offending behaviors,” said Dr. Angela Colantonio, the lead author on the report and a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. “However, the question is whether early intervention and support for those living with the effects of brain injury could prevent offending behavior or recidivism. More research is needed on this.”

A TBI can be caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal brain function. The injuries range from “mild” ones that cause confusion or brief unconsciousness to “severe” injuries that cause extended periods of unconsciousness or amnesia, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]

Previous studies have found that anywhere between 25 and 87 percent of U.S. prisoners have had a TBI. This is a wide and debated range, but nevertheless higher than the estimated 8.5 percent of the general U.S. population who have a suffered TBIs, according to the CDC.

Colantonio’s team studied male and female prisoners in four Ontario prisons. About 50 percent of the male prisoners also reported a history of TBI, a serious concern, the researchers noted. Yet Colantonio said she was particularly struck by the rate among female prisoners, and the factors surrounding their TBIs.

For example, the women were more likely than the men to report suffering the TBI before committing their first crimes, sometimes within a year before being incarcerated. Also, female inmates with histories of TBI were much more likely than the males to have suffered physical or sexual abuse as children.

Recent awareness of brain injuries sustained in American football and other sports has improved public awareness in general, Colantonio said. But she added, “There has not been a lot of attention on women at risk for TBI, for example, from intimate partner violence, even though research has shown that the majority of hits are to the head.”

Read full article…


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.