U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Understanding the Links Between Violence Against Women and Women's Participation in Illegal Activity, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2002
2 pages
Publication Series
With a focus on women of color from low-income communities who are in conflict with the law, this study explored the relationship between violence against women and women's involvement in illegal activity in 1999.
A total of 298 women detained in the Cook County Jail (Chicago, IL) were administered a survey to determine the extent of prior abuse in the inmate population, to identify the nature of the abuse, and to identify women to participate in in-depth, life-history interviews. A significant number of the women had been violently abused by multiple perpetrators; the abuse had serious consequences and in some cases was directly linked to the women's involvement in illegal activity. Thirty-three of these women were recruited to participate in in-depth, life-history interviews. Analysis of the qualitative results showed a clear pattern of the impact of conditions in low-income communities on the violence experienced by the women as they grew up, as well as the link between such abuse and their later criminality. In addition to community conditions, victimization was shaped by racial and gender identity as well as social position. Recommendations pertain to a shift in intervention strategies, policy reform, and further research.

Date Published: July 1, 2002