Don't Talk, Don't Trust, Don't Feel
Alternative Law Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 53-57
Posted: 23 Nov 2009
Date Written: 1994
'Don't talk', 'don't trust', and 'don't feel', are the three cardinal rules which dominate households where addiction, abuse or other types of dysfunction are present. Growing up in this type of environment, children are likely to develop certain personality traits and behavioral patterns of survival. Low self esteem and deeply embedded feelings of shame may lead to alcoholism, drug abuse, other forms of dependency, and/or adult relationships marked by improvisation. Turning to the women in Australian women's prisons, one finds estimates that 80 to 85% are drug addicts, and a similar proportion are estimated to have been victims of incest or other types of abuse It is quite probable that a high percentage of the women in Australian prisons have grown up in families where the three cardinal rules operated. They are usually imprisoned for a crime related to their drug addiction. It is ironic that they are already in some respects socialized to prison life since the rules of 'don't talk', 'don't trust', and 'don't feel' are also principal values in the gaol culture. This article explores what these rules mean within the prison context and how they affect both the women inmates and the institutional environment. The research involved visiting eight women's prisons in Australia and interviewing 56 inmates.
Keywords: dysfunction, children, victimisation
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