Section 5: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Practical Supervision Strategies
4 hours, 30 minutes
TOPIC: MANAGING INTRAFAMILIAL CASES OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
|CHALLENGES FOR OFFICERS|
Probation/parole officers need to be educated in and sensitive to the complicated family dynamics of incest. Every attempt should be made to obtain specialized family treatment or education for partners, victims, siblings, and those responsible for the victim's and other children's protection. Family members who are in denial or who are able to be manipulated by the offender, or who believe based on their own observation that the offender has reformed, are often the ones who provide offenders with access to children.
For many probation officers and some parole officers, incest cases are especially difficult when the nonoffending parent desires reunification. From the beginning, it should be made clear to the offender and his partner that he must earn his way back into the role of parent. Even if an incest offender scores low on a risk assessment scale, officers must remember that placing such an offender back into a home places him in a very high-risk situation. A carefully supervised meeting in a treatment provider's office or dinner at a restaurant is entirely different from the intimacy of the family home where young children are often unclothed, bathroom and bedroom doors are left open, and the other parent is sound asleep during the night. Many offenders reveal in treatment that they "accidentally" let their bathrobe fall open, walked in on their daughter in the bathroom, or left the bedroom door open when they were undressed. They often use playful wrestling or tickling to confuse the child when their hands begin to stray and they become aroused.
Before contact or reunification occur, the partner (usually the mother) should have been through her own treatment program; she should be totally familiar with the offender's assault script, grooming behaviors and patterns, cycle of offending, and relapse prevention strategies to detect the early warning signs of possible re-offending.
She is dealing with unique personal issues: She is a secondary victim in such cases, as are the siblings, male or female. She is often an unresolved victim of past sexual abuse, angry at "the system" instead of the offender, and needs professional help and support as she learns how to function independently of her partner and be emotionally supportive to the victim. She is often torn between feelings for a man she loved or still loves, her children, and extended family members. Because a mother's ability to nurture and protect her children may be the most important factor in the victim's recovery, these partners need the support and assistance of professionals, no matter how difficult.
Extended Family Incest
Incest can occur among any members of a family, including siblings, aunts or uncles and their nephews or nieces, grandparents and their grandchildren, etc. The challenges in these cases will depend very much on the overall relationships between the family members. Some of these dynamics may apply even if the offender is not technically or legally a family member. In family settings in which the grandparent is the offender, family members are often torn between belief in the victim and loyalty to the elder. Grandmothers don't understand why their grandchildren can't visit; siblings sometimes take sides between a grandfather and a victim who might be judged as troublesome, difficult, or possibly seductive. As with other intrafamilial cases, efforts should be made to provide education and support for all family members who have a role in the lives of the victim and the offender.