Women in forensic psychiatry

Written by Vivienne de Vogel, PhD,
Head of Research department De Forensische Zorgspecialisten


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 one’s own children and inpatient violence by psychiatric patients seem to be 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 differ at least to a certain extent between women and men. Overall, compared to male violence female violence is more indirect, more reactive and within social relationships and less instrument or sexual.


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