Although there is a vast array of theories on crime, one area that is largely under-represented is that of the actual experience of the offender engaged in criminal acts. The purpose of this paper is to examine the individual and phenomenological experiences of crime amongst women offenders.
The sample consisted of 128 women who had committed a criminal offence, with an average age of 36.40 years (SD=11.12). Participants were recruited to take part in the study by answering a questionnaire exploring the emotions and narrative roles they experienced during commission of a crime. From this, participants’ Criminal Narrative Experience (CNE) was determined.
Smallest Space Analysis (SSA) analyses revealed that emotional experiences and narrative roles were thematically associated, and when both were subjected to SSA analysis, two main themes of CNE were identified: Avenging Angel and Choiceless Victim. The Choiceless Victim experience was the most representative of women’s experiences in this study.
The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed. Future directions for research are also outlined.
The findings offer an alternative perspective and theoretical framework for examining women offenders’ criminal experiences.