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Essex Probation

Case Study: A complex set of problems

Mandy is a young woman with an eating disorder, alcohol problem, and an immaculately presented façade, who was engaged in prostitution, involved in abusive relationships, had an alcohol dependency and a serious eating disorder. Her offences, mainly theft of jewellery, clothes and make-up, go back ten years. Excess alcohol also figures. Six months ago, Mandy faced life-threatening illness through anorexia and alcohol issues.

Her Offender Manager assessed that a traditional offence-focused and victim-focused approach was futile for the time being, with this very damaged young woman. So she:

  • worked on her self image, helping her value her life and her small successes. (The Cycle of Change, one of the most influential pieces of thinking in behavioural change, was a useful tool in allowing Mandy to understand her shifting behaviours.)
  • helped Mandy accept the effect of alcohol on her emotionally, and on her physical appearance
  • changed appointment venues, meeting her in places where food was served. Mandy would normally avoid such places
  • helped Mandy understand that her attraction to abusive relationships and prostitution were obstacles to her valuing and looking after herself. (The roots of Mandy’s behaviour lie in a violent, alcoholic father who eventually left home, and an alcoholic mother who can offer her daughter nothing)
  • contacted various agencies to add to add to her own approach with Mandy, including the Eating Disorder Clinic (Mandy is still resistant but her OM will persist until she gets there )
  • above all showed her she was valued and remained a determined force for good through all of Mandy’s failed attempts to make changes, as well as those important successes

Mandy has changed. She…

  • now eats small amounts (though still needs alcohol from time to time, to feel relaxed enough to do this)
  • after systematic shop theft, has offended only once since the making of her order 18 months ago (this resulted in her being resentenced to a  new 12-month Supervision Order and 100 hours Community Payback).
  • completed her Community Payback hours in a charity shop. Her OM used this to encourage her onto an admin course to equip her for regular work
  • has withdrawn from prostitution

The Offender Manager perseveres in making efforts to expand Mandy’s scant support network, despite some resistance. Alcohol is still too much of a support: work continues