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Disconnected lives: Women with intellectual disabilities in conflict with the law

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Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities

Published online on


Background Women with intellectual/developmental disabilities in conflict with the law experience childhood trauma, substance abuse and intimate partner violence but continue to have difficulty accessing appropriate therapeutic services, both within correctional settings and upon discharge. The aim of this study is to explore women's service needs and to critically assess whether the available services are meeting their identified needs. Method Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 16 women with intellectual/developmental disabilities who were in the Special Needs Unit of a women's correctional centre from December 2014 to March 2015. Results Women with intellectual/developmental disabilities struggle to manage the impact of intergenerational trauma, exacerbated by issues of substance abuse and addiction, poor coping skills and minimal education, all of which impact their sense of well‐being. Conclusions This study highlights the need for increasing trauma treatment for women with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and emphasizes the need for accessible intervention to facilitate coping, trauma processing and community integration.