‘They just didn’t want to help me’: The criminalisation of coerced women co-offenders

Barlow, Charlotte orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1362-7131 (2023) ‘They just didn’t want to help me’: The criminalisation of coerced women co-offenders. In: Gendered Justice: Women, Trauma and Crime. Waterside Press. ISBN 9781914603426

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This chapter will consider the influence of violence, coercion and love within intimate relationships on women’s offending behaviour, particularly co-offending. Female offenders more broadly are typically viewed to be wholly independent, rational agents or as lacking control in relation to their offending behaviour and thus having their agency completely denied. However, this dichotomy is problematic, as it fails to consider how violent, coercive and controlling dimensions of co-offending relationships may influence offending behaviour and experiences of agency. The importance of acknowledging such experiences in social context when attempting to understand such women’s offending ‘choices’, and the current failings to do so in criminal justice responses, will be explored. Furthermore, the chapter will emphasise the need to move away from criminalisation in response to such women, offering a critique of both the victim/ offender dichotomy that plagues the criminal justice system and the limits of the law in providing adequate defences for women co-offenders who have experienced coercion, violence and abuse. It will also reflect on the problems and possibilities of trauma-informed approaches in providing appropriate support for such women, particularly when these approaches occur in a criminal justice context.

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