Invisible Trauma : Women, Difference and the Criminal Justice System book cover
1st Edition

Invisible Trauma
Women, Difference and the Criminal Justice System

ISBN 9781138218666
Published March 11, 2020 by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

There is an expectation that women will be nurturers and carers. Women who have been judged violent, destructive and criminal and who are detained in the criminal justice system can find themselves perceived through a distorted lens as unwomanly. This book explains how they become hypervisible in their difference, while the histories of trauma and suffering that are communicated through their offending and other risk behaviour remain hidden, and so are unseen. 

Bringing together authors uniquely placed as experts in their fields, Invisible Trauma argues that it is essential to trace the traumatic roots of women’s violence and criminality. Powerful intergenerational factors perpetuate the cycles of offending and trauma re-enactment that current sentencing practice overlooks. The authors present a psychoanalytically informed account of the development of violence and other offending, identifying pathways for change to address trauma within the lives of these women and their children, and also to create a responsive, effective and sensitive workforce.

Invisible Trauma highlights the role of emotional, social and cultural forces in traumatising women who come into contact with the criminal justice system and uncovers areas of their lives that are all too often hidden from view. It will be invaluable to those working in clinical and forensic psychology, mental health nursing, psychotherapy, social work, medical practice and women’s health, as well as frontline practitioners in the criminal justice system, the health service and third sector organisations and for anyone with an interest in racism, equality and social justice.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Authors

2. Maternal Violence: Ordinary and Extraordinary

Anna Motz

3. The Criminalisation of Blackness

Maxine Dennis

4. Caught in the Racist Gaze?:

The vulnerability of black women to forensic mental health and criminal justice settings

Anne Aiyegbusi

5. Prostitution: Visible Bodies, Hidden Lives

Anna Motz

6. Self-Harm: Inscriptions and Survival

Anna Motz

7. Taboo: Female Psychopathy and Sex Offending

Anna Motz

8. Restricted Status and Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection: Extreme Violence and Female Terrorism

Anna Motz

9. Intoxicating States of Mind: Violence and its impact

Anna Motz

10. What Happened? An attachment based understanding of detained women with offending histories and diagnoses of personality disorder

Anne Aiyegbusi

11. In prison and imprisoned: Organised defences working against black women and girls

Maxine Dennis

12. Why the Caged Bird Sings

The Authors

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Anna Motz is a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust working within Offender Care and a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist with extensive experience of working with women with trauma and offending histories. She is the author of The Psychology of Female Violence: Crimes Against the Body and Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence, and the Editor of Managing Self Harm: Psychological Perspectives.

Maxine Dennis is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst (British Psychoanalytic Society) and is Groups Lead in the Adult Department, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Essex Clinical Psychology Department where she organises and contributes to the teaching on diversity and psychotherapy. Currently she is Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council Task Group on Ethnicity, Culture and Racism.

Anne Aiyegbusi is a Mental Health Nurse, Forensic Psychotherapist and Group Analyst. She manages a clinical network for personality disorder at West London NHS Trust and is a Director of Psychological Approaches CIC. Anne has extensive experience of working with women who have histories of self-harm, trauma and offending; and of working with racism in forensic and psychotherapeutic contexts. Anne is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Group Analysis where she is also a member of the Diversity in Training Group, prioritising issues of ‘Power, Privilege and Position’.



"With the intellectual depth of an academic periodical and the narrative potency of investigative journalism, this project is a paragon of accessible, nuanced and potent writing. This radiates particularly from the authors’ inquest into the treatment of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) women in prison. As somebody who has conducted their own review into the punitive treatment of BAME individuals, I am in awe of their courage in uncovering how some women are forced to repeat the same brutalising exchanges with authority that defined the colonial era. Stunningly broad yet rigorously focused, these authors ruthlessly expose the harm of a criminal justice system that responds to complex histories of trauma with retribution rather than understanding. Expertly examining the intersection of violence, marginalisation and racial disproportionality, this book is not just hugely enlightening. Rather, is essential, particularly for those who legislate on how women are treated by a penal system that is in desperate need of reform."

- David Lammy, MP