Individual, Family, and Community Education ETDs

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During the last twenty-five years, the number of women who have entered and reentered the criminal justice system has steadily risen. Most of the arrests are made on drug-related charges. To develop a better understanding of women who are incarcerated, this study examined the relationships among trauma, self-concept, dissociation, Cluster B Personality Disorders and adult attachment styles in 77 women from the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their ethnicity was reported as follows: N=43 Hispanic, N=17 White/Anglo, N=9 Native American, and N=8 Black/African American; their mean age was 34.7 and their mean educational level was 11.5.

Each participant completed 5 measures: Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI); Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, Second Edition (TSCS-2); Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III); Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R); and a Background Information Survey. Seventy-five point three percent of the women reported physical abuse, 64.9% sexual abuse, and 76.6% a traumatic experience; 32.5% reported at least one suicide attempt. According to the MCMI-III, 76.6% exhibited clinically significant scores on the Drug Dependence Scale and 42.9% on the Alcohol Dependence Scale. The majority also presented clinically significant scores on the Antisocial and Borderline Personality Scales (70.1% and 53.2%, respectively). Similarly, most obtained low self-concept and identity scores and were categorized as insecure. As hypothesized, statistically significant relationships were obtained between the TSI Scale scores with the self-concept Total score, and preoccupied or fearful insecure attachment styles. Those categorized as fearful and preoccupied exhibited clinically significant mean scores on all 10 TSI Scale scores as well as for the MCMI-III Borderline Personality Scale and were more likely to use dissociation.

Given the comorbidity of the disorders (i.e., personality disorders, substance dependence and other clinical disorders), low self-concept, the use of dissociation and insecure attachment styles, specialized treatment approaches are necessary to address the many needs of this vulnerable population. Without appropriate services there is a high probability the women will be revictimized and continue to suffer additional trauma.

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Individual, Family, and Community Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Virginia C. Shipman

Second Committee Member

Deborah Rifenbary

Third Committee Member