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Why is Prevail Working with Incarcerated Women?

October 2018

Many people in the community may be interested to learn that Prevail offers group support to women at the Hamilton County Jail who have experienced violence. As part of our mission, we are working to end ALL acts of violence and we are going where we are needed in order to accomplish our agency’s goal of a healthy and safe community. For incarcerated women the trauma rates are even higher compared to women not under correctional supervision. According to research, 90 percent of incarcerated women were victims of sexual or physical violence at some point during their lives. Three out of four women in prison experienced physical abuse by an intimate partner and over one in four women were raped before entering prison. Over 90 percent of women who were convicted of murdering an intimate partner were victims of abuse by an intimate partner.

 So what does this mean? For us, it means that prison facilities for women are filled to the brim with mothers, daughters, cousins, and friends dealing with untold trauma. Furthermore, since women tend to deal with trauma in very different ways than their male counterparts, and have much higher rates of sadness and depression, it is crucial for these women to receive trauma informed care. Prevail  utilizes our time at the jail by exploring PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)  and how to respond to triggers so that the women are able to better cope. It is important to understand that women who are incarcerated do not have the typical flight or fight stress response so a triggering event can result in aggressive or anti social behavior that results in some form of harsher treatment or behavior by guards or fellow inmates. By providing education about violence and abuse 101, we can help identify their triggers so they are able to apply healthy coping skills in their daily lives.

When dealing with trauma in general, studies show that over half of children and adolescents who have PTSD go on to experience substance abuse problems. What we have learned so for through the jail support group is that, almost 100% of these women struggle with substance abuse issues and are serving time due to drug related, non violent offenses. Therefore, Prevail feels that it is crucial to see addiction as a symptom with the root being chronic trauma that has been masked or dormant for years.  It is also important to inform the public that the effects of violence on women has devastating and rippling outcomes that is tearing apart families and creating bigger mental health issues for our communities.

Our main focus is to create a space for these women to have a voice and to build self esteem in order to create a better life for themselves and provide them with community resources, like Prevail, while doing so.

Kelsey Carrier
Adult Advocate

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