Welcome to the website about violence by women and girls. On this website information can be found on risk assessment in women and recent research results into violence by women.

While women still represent a minority of the forensic psychiatric and prison population, worldwide the number of women committing violent crimes has increased steadily over the past two decades. Moreover, some types of violence, such as intimate partner violence, violence towards their own children and inpatient violence by psychiatric patients are as common in women as in men. Most of the research in the forensic field, however, is still devoted to male samples and there are growing concerns about whether the theoretical knowledge we have on factors contributing to violence in men is sufficiently valid and useful for women. Research has demonstrated that the nature of violence and violence risk factors differ at least to a certain degree between women and men. Consequently, the existing structured risk assessment instruments are not sufficiently suitable for use with female patients. In addition, the knowledge on treatment for women is scarce and questions can be posed if gender-responsive treatment strategies are needed and if treatment in mixed settings is desirable.

In the Dutch forensic psychiatric hospital Van der Hoeven Kliniek, several projects have been initiated to gain more knowledge on women and consequently to improve treatment. One of these is the development of an additional risk assessment tool, the Female Additional Manual (FAM). In 2012, a multicentre study was started into characteristics of female forensic psychiatric patients from five Dutch forensic institutions. The major aim of this ongoing study is to gain more insight into criminal and psychiatric characteristics of female forensic psychiatric patients, especially characteristics that may function as risk or protective factors for future violence. Results might have implications for psychodiagnostics, risk assessment and treatment in forensic psychiatric settings, but possibly also in general psychiatry or in the penitentiary system. 

Better risk assessment and management in women is also important from a public mental health perspective because research has demonstrated an intergenerational transfer of risk for violence between mothers and children; mothers with a history of violent offenses are more likely to raise disruptive, aggressive children.

See for more information about gender issues the double special issue of the International Journal of Forensic Mental Health  (issue 1 and 2 of volume 15, 2016).