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Reaching Unmet Needs

Monday marked the second week of a 10 session Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Group at Northern Neck Regional Jail (NNRJ) to reach the unmet needs of individuals who are incarcerated. According to the Sentencing Project, the number of women incarcerated between 1980 and 2016 increased by over 700% for a total of 213,722 women in jails or prisons.   More than a million additional women are under correctional supervision on probation or parole.

How are women’s experiences of intimate partner violence associated with entry into the criminal justice system?

Feminist pathways theorists argue that women and girls have different risk factors than men for entry into the criminal justice system (DeHart). Specifically, a growing recognition that incarcerated women experience high rates of IPV and that their exposure is often repeated and includes multiple forms of violence.

For example, in a study with 491 women in jail coauthored by Shannon Lynch, PhD (Professor of Clinical Psychology, Idaho State University), fewer than 10% of women reported no exposure to interpersonal violence while about half reported child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, and childhood physical abuse with witnessing violence and partner violence reported as the most common experiences.

What do the sessions The Haven offer women at NNRJ?

Led by Crisis & Support Services Program Manager Lynn Sharpe and Lead Crisis & Support Services Coordinator Rachael Styron, each session offers a connection to an advocate as well as an opportunity to provide resources to individuals who have experienced violence once they are released. An overview of the sessions can be found below:

Week 1—Introductions, Group Guidelines, Intro to Power & Control Wheel

Week 2—Review Power & Control Wheel, Introduce Cycle of Violence

Week 3—Why Do Women Stay?

Week 4—Recognizing Red Flags of an Abusive Relationship

Week 5—Games Batterers Play

Week 6—Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)/ Effects of Trauma

Week 7—Effects of Trauma on Children

Week 8—Healing & Resiliency

Week 9—Equality/Healthy Relationships

Week 10—Wrap-up/Evaluations/Certificates

Attendance to sessions increased from 5 to 8 persons over the last week and staff expect a continued expansion of participants. There are a limited number of outside agencies in our area who provide those incarcerated with resources and support. The groups are not only providing those attending with immediate support, but studies suggest that coordinated care efforts from community support agencies, like The Haven, positively influence women’s outcomes and reduce recidivism.

To learn more about our IPV Group at Northern Neck Regional Jail contact Lynn Sharpe at or at 804-333-1099.


1. DeHart, D., Lynch, S., Belknap, J., Dass-Brailsford, P., & Green, B. (2014). Life history models of female offending: The roles of serious mental illness and trauma in women’s pathways to jail. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38(1), 138-151.

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