Good and Poor Prognosis Factors

It is not possible to predict whether reunification of a family following disclosure of incest will be successful. The safety of children is the primary goal, and many factors must be in place prior to reunification. 

The following list of factors predicting good and poor prognosis is adapted from work by Powell and Ilett (1992),
Good Prognosis
  • Perpetrator attended, participated in, and completed sex offender therapy.
  • Perpetrator is not a fixated offender, whose primary choice of sexual partner is children.
  • Perpetrator is regressive type of sex offender, and abuse was situational.
  • Abuse did not occur over long period of time.
  • Abuse was minimal and non-invasive (no oral sex or vaginal or anal intercourse).
  • Perpetrator demonstrates parenting skills in other areas.
  • Perpetrator evidences guilt and remorse about the abuse and demonstrates empathy for the child victim and for other members of the family.
  • Perpetrator accepts full responsibility for the abuse and does not blame anyone or anything else for any part of the choice to sexually abuse.
  • Perpetrator communicates awareness of short term effects  and long term consequences of sexual abuse.
  • Abuse did not involve threats and physical violence.
  • Abuse is not intergenerational, and other extended family members do not have incest occurring in home.

Poor or Very Poor Prognosis

  • Perpetrator is unwilling to complete treatment and rationalizes why he does not need to attend, participate in, or complete treatment.
  • Perpetrator is fixated type of sex offender with sexual preference for children.
  • Abuse was invasive and severe, including oral sex or anal or vaginal intercourse.
  • Abuse included physical force, physical threats, or physical violence.
  • Abuse occurred over long period of time and included many settings.
  • Perpetrator denies abuse, extent of abuse, responsibility for the abuse, and/or consequences of the abuse. 
  • More than one victim is in the home.
  • Perpetrator sees himself as unique and different from other sex offenders.
  • Perpetrator blames victim, other family members, or external factors or stressors for the sexual abuse.
  • Perpetrator appears to feel guilt and remorse based more on being caught than on genuine empathy for victim and sorrow for his actions.
  • Perpetrator has other criminal history and other antisocial behaviors.
  • Abuse is intergenerational. Perpetrator was sexually abused or other external family members have abuse in history or in current life situation.

Poorest prognosis is the offender who:

  • Prefers children as sex partners.
  • Has multiple victims.
  • Abuse was severe, invasive, and included force, physical threats, or violence.
  • Denies, minimizes, rationalizes, and justifies sexual abuse. 



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