In order to learn more about the experiences and aftermath of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of incarcerated and non-incarcerated women in the course of their lives, this study recruited women from four community settings and from the entire population of the only women's correctional facility in a Midwestern State.
The findings partially support the study's first hypothesis, i.e., that prevalence rates of intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence, and youth maltreatment were highest among incarcerated women. The incarcerated sample was more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse and rape. Women receiving services reported the highest rate of physical IPV. The findings supported the second and third hypotheses, i.e., that there is a higher degree of co-occurrence of violence among incarcerated women, and histories of IPV were more common among incarcerated women than were histories of adult sexual violence. Incarcerated women fared the best in their physical and mental health scores, followed by women from the community, and women receiving services; however, the incarcerated women were more likely to believe they had a significant alcohol and/or drug problem than were the others. Significant differences were found between the groups in their use of adaptive coping strategies, their level of social support, the perceived difficulty in living on their household income, and welfare receipt. Generally, women who received services reported better adaptive coping skills, but less perceived social support, as well as more difficulty living on their household income. The women participants were recruited from five communities: three urban, one rural, and the correctional facility for women. These venues were selected as ideal sites in which to secure a racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse sample of women ages 18 and older. The total sample consisted of 423 women. 6 tables and 45 references