Letter – We must address the links between brain injury, domestic abuse and women in prison – Domestic Abuse Commissioner

According to government data, at least 57% of women in prison or under probation supervision are victim-survivors of domestic abuse. The actual figure is likely to be much higher, due to well documented barriers to disclosure. The importance of gender specific, trauma responsive programmes of support is gradually becoming recognised.

Organisations such as One Small Thing are leading efforts to demonstrate how a justice system which recognises, understands, and responds to trauma (such as experience of domestic abuse) can provide an alternative, more compassionate way to support justice experienced women in the community.

An important aspect of trauma responsive practice includes the appropriate identification and treatment of those with lived experience of domestic abuse, who may be suffering with the hidden effects of brain injury.

Due to a lack of awareness amongst justice professionals and no routine screening for acquired brain injuries (ABI), the cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects can often be misunderstood or misdiagnosed as other conditions.

The consequences of brain injury can have a detrimental impact on a survivor’s journey through the criminal justice system. They can impact on interactions with Police Officers, understanding of the Court environment, engagement with interventions, ability to cope within a Prison setting, transition back into the community, engagement with Probation, compliance with Community Order/Licence conditions and susceptibility to exploitation.

Read the full letter now.

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