An Integrated Look at Dually Diagnosed Female Sex Offenders and the Law

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Sex Offenses; Criminals; Female; Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry); Substance-Related Disorders; Mental Disorders


Health Services Research | Law | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Objectives: The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of the existing literature regarding the identification of, characteristics of, and difficulties in studying dually diagnosed female sex offenders.

Methods: The paper examines estimates of the numbers of dually diagnosed female sex offenders together with their demographic makeup, the nature of the offenses they commit, their psychiatric characteristics, and the difficulty in measuring each subject when only "official" data from arrest records exist.

Results: Available data indicate that females account for between 1.3% and 3.5% of arrests for forcible rape and 8.5% of arrests for sex offenses, not including forcible rape and prostitution in single-perpetrator cases. Females also account for up to 12% of the sexual assaults on victims under the age of six. The paper then considers some of the legal issues in sex offender prosecution and the relationship of substance abuse to volitional control, and offers strategies for providing effective testimony to courts in risk assessment settings. Using an overview of substance abuse rates in sexual assault cases, the paper identifies areas for further research to quantify the nature of the offending population being considered.

Conclusion: Given the current available data regarding the relationship between substance abuse and volitional control, the use of substances should be seen as a clear risk factor when assessing risk among the female sex offending population.

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Citation: Saleh, FM, Dwyer, RG, Grudzinskas, AJ. (2006) “An Integrated Look at Dually Diagnosed Female Sex Offenders and the Law.” Journal of Dual Diagnosis 3(1):23-32. DOI: 10.1300/J374v03n01_04