1st Edition

Women, Trauma, and Journeys towards Desistance Navigating the Labyrinth

By Madeline Petrillo Copyright 2023

    Women, Trauma, and Journeys towards Desistance: Navigating the Labyrinth provides an examination of women’s desistance from crime from a gender-responsive, trauma-informed perspective.

    The book is based on the reflections of fifty-six women over a three-year period as they transition from custody to the community. With the women, the author examines how experiences of trauma, victimisation, and intersectional oppression constrain access to traditional desistance supporting processes, including supportive relationships, identity construction, the exercise of agency, and engagement with treatment and interventions, reframing these processes from trauma-informed perspective. The book joins together the women’s insights and experiences with principles of gender-responsive, trauma-informed principles in a framework through which criminal justice practitioners can support women in their efforts to leave crime behind. The framework for practice is a fusion of concepts from desistance theory, principles of gender-responsivity, and trauma-informed practice designed to help women understand the root causes of the problems they face in the present whilst building on their resilience and strengths to achieve their goals for their futures.

    This book is ideal reading for scholars and students of criminology and criminal justice, particularly rehabilitation, gender and crime, and feminist criminology. It will also be of interest to academics and practitioners of forensic psychology and social work, as well as probation officers, social workers and prison officers.

    1. Navigating the Labyrinth: Women, trauma, and journeys towards desistance

    2. Trauma, offending, and desistance

    3. Fifty-seven women

    4. Navigating relationships

    5. Navigating identity restoration: Shame, stigma, and selfhood in women’s desistance

    6. Navigating responsibility: Agency, autonomy, and self-efficacy in desistance

    7. Navigating Recovery: A trauma recovery approach to supporting women’s desistance

    8. Women’s desistance from crime: A trauma-informed framework for practice


    Madeline Petrillo is a senior lecturer in the School of Law and Criminology at the University of Greenwich. Madeline’s teaching specialisms include desistance and rehabilitation, constructions of deviance, women’s experiences of the justice system, pathways to offending, and community justice. Madeline obtained her PhD from the University of Portsmouth. Madeline also holds professional qualifications: a BA(Hons)/Dip. Probation Studies from the University of Hertfordshire and a PG Cert in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy from the University of East London. Madeline’s research focuses on the experiences of women in the justice system. Recently, her work has examined the implementation and delivery of trauma-informed practice in prisons and probation. Prior to entering academia, Madeline worked as a Probation Officer for eleven years in London and Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. She also spent two years working as a Probation Officer in a women’s prison. Madeline was Course Leader for the Professional Qualification in Probation from 2013 to 2020.