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Understanding Women Who Commit Sex Offences (From Sex as Crime?, P 299-320, 2008, Gayle Letherby, Kate Williams, Philip Birch, and Maureen Cain, eds. -- See NCJ-224405)

NCJ Number
Amada Matravers
Date Published
Based on existing research and an expansion of the theoretical focus to a range of individual, relational, sociocultural, and structural factors, this chapter presents an integrated model for explaining women’s sexual offending.
The proposed integrated model combines psychological and structural perspectives with relational and sociocultural factors. The key influences on the women’s sex offending in the research review were individual psychology and life experiences, relationships with co-offending men, and social structural factors. In the research from which the model is derived, women sexual offenders had childhoods that were commonly, although not invariably, troubled, and sexual victimization was one of a cluster of adverse early experiences. Problematic and abusive relationships with mothers were common. Although male violence against the women was a common experience, men played a diverse range of roles in the lives of women with meager intellectual, social, and economic resources. These factors combined to bring the women to a self-concept of being helpless, powerless, and overwhelmed with circumstances they could not manage. Lone offenders committed a range of offenses, from noncontact indecency to murder. The offenses differed in their severity, duration, location, and victim type, but all were associated with distorted sexuality. Partner offenders share some adverse early experiences with lone offenders, notably abusive and distant maternal behavior; however, overall, the childhoods of partner offenders were not as uniformly bleak as those of lone offenders. The key research upon which the integrated theoretical model is based involved a sample of 30 women identified as sex offenders by the British criminal justice system. Indepth, life history interviews were conducted with 22 women, and documentary data were obtained from prison and probation files. 2 notes and 15 references