Harvey Weinstein-Why We Refuse To Acknowledge Abused Women Offenders

The history of sexual and physical violence directed to women offenders (especially during childhood) is considerable. Add neglect, and it indicates that most have challenging histories.

The Harvey Weinstein incident and additional stories of abuse pale in comparison to the numbers involved.

Yet we say nothing, do nothing, and within the confines of the #metoo movement, we ignore the issue.

Women Offenders

The vast majority of women offenders I interviewed for my television shows or podcasts, or through formal or informal discussions, were the victims of sexual or physical violence, or child abuse and neglect.

There are additional issues such as exposures to violence, mental health, PTSD, substance abuse and more that impact most women coming into the justice system, see Crime in America-Rehabilitation. But for the moment, we will focus on sexual and physical abuse of women offenders.

A forthcoming study of prison releases will state that the vast majority of women interviewed were sexually or physically abused as children.

The majority of women offenders are subject to continued abuse in adulthood.

The Harvey Weinstein incident and endless additional stories of the abuse of women pale in comparison based on the numbers.

This issue is never discussed beyond academic studies. The lack of dialog indicates our discomfort with the subject.

There is every possibility that efforts to protect children or to end child abuse could have a major impact on crime, school achievement, mental health and endless additional concerns.

Yet we say nothing, do nothing, and within the confines of the #metoo movement, we ignore the issue.

We justifiably encourage women to claim their history of abuse to make sure that abusers are put on notice that their actions will not be tolerated.

But when it comes to women caught up in the criminal justice system, it seems that we couldn’t care less.

Women Offenders Abused

57.2 percent of female state inmates were abused physically or sexually, mostly by adults, which is probably an undercount. Once you add neglect, most women offenders have very challenging histories.

Women Offenders-Abusers

Most women in state prisons were abused by family members, parent or guardian, other relatives, or an intimate partner.

Child Abuse and Future Criminality

Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood, New York Times.

A new study of inmates in a New York prison found that 68 percent of the sample reported some form of childhood victimization and 23 percent reported experiencing multiple forms of abuse and neglect, including physical and sexual abuse. These findings provide support for the belief that the majority of incarcerated offenders have likely experienced some type of childhood abuse or neglect, NIJ.

The authors find that child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime, Child Abuse.

A National Institute of Justice study indicated that being abused or neglected as a child increased the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 59%. Abuse and neglect also increased the likelihood of adult criminal behavior by 28% and violent crime by 30%, CDC.

A 2014 Department of Justice study shows that 60 percent of children nationwide are exposed to violence, crime, or abuse; consequences include poor school performance, drug and alcohol abuse, long-term physical and psychological harm, and risk of future victimization and suicide, Exposure to Violence.

Between life as an abused child and being surrounded by violence, what you would you expect the outcome for women offenders to be?


The history of sexual and physical violence of women offenders (especially during childhood) is considerable. Add neglect, and it indicates that women offenders have horrific histories.

It’s not my intention to offer excuses for bad or criminal behavior; I’m just stating the facts as we know them.

But society seems unwilling to acknowledge this abuse. The Harvey Weinstein incidents and condemnations are important first steps, but they just barely scrape the top of the iceberg when it comes to women caught up in the criminal justice system.

Chart Source

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.