The American Psychiatric Association defines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as exposure to a traumatic event, followed by persistent re-experiencing of that event, together with two further clusters of PTSD symptoms: avoidance and increased arousal.
WAVE's recommendations for actions to reduce violence in society include an appeal for more attention to be paid to the role of PTSD in offending violent criminals and for a preventative approach to be taken to treat PTSD before its sufferers find themselves in the prison system.
We offer four propositions:
- A high proportion of violent prisoners and ex-prisoners are suffering from PTSD, probably as the result of childhood abuse and neglect.
- PTSD is particularly likely to exist in sex offenders who were themselves sexually abused as children.
- There are demonstrated, effective, methodologies for treating PTSD.
- Treating PTSD has a beneficial impact on outcomes with violent offenders.
WAVE is concerned that, in our experience, therapeutic approaches to address re-offending by violent prisoners or ex-prisoners, in the UK prison system, largely ignore the dimension of PTSD.