Remaining in Home

If a child abuse case has been opened, with ongoing investigation and social services involvement, the alleged perpetrator may remain in the home until and charges are brought against him and, either arrest or court hearing are determined. If the child makes a disclosure, forensic examination and abuse interview occur, and evidence is found to substantiate the allegation, the abuser's remaining in the home would be considered a serious risk factor to the child victim. It is probable that the child would be removed from the home and taken into protective custody. In that situation, the perpetrator remains in the home, and the victim is removed. The child would be confused by this action and feel unsupported. Depending on the child's age and understanding, she may be angry at the mother that this has occurred.

If protective services told the mother that the abuser needed to leave the home, and the mother did not insist that the abuser leave, social services would interpret this as inability to provide safe parenting. The child would be placed in protective custody, and the mother would be required to fulfill agency requirements (e.g., evaluation, parenting classes, support group attendance, therapy) prior to the child's return. 

Both of these scenarios are problematic to the child victim because the importance of her safety and protection is not the primary factor in the mother's mind. Also, the presence of siblings in the home necessitates an examination of safety issues for those children. In these cases, social services sometimes removes all children, not only the victim, from the home, in order to assure their safety from abuse.  

If the abuser has been convicted, fulfilled court requirements (e.g., incarceration and/or treatment), and is now in the home, a Safety Plan must be in place. Rules and Guidelines are necessary in order to provide structure and boundaries for family members. All family members should continue in therapy, and an accountability plan for the perpetrator should be in place. An offender, even one who has completed treatment, continues to present a high risk to children in the home. 

Safety Rules and Guidelines should include:
  • Adequate supervision for children - not by abuser
  • Bedroom rules - not shared by abuser
  • Bathroom rules - one person at a time
  • Privacy rules - knock before entering
  • Dress rules - no nudity
  • Rules about secrets - none allowed
  • Rules about pornography in the home - none allowed

General Rules and Principles should be followed (Saunders & Meinig, 1995). The offender should:

  • Never be alone with children.
  • Never be responsible for supervising or disciplining children.
  • Never initiate physical contact with children.
  • Never discuss issues of sexuality with minors.
  • Never suggest that they want or need attention, caretaking, or special attention from children.
  • Never use alcohol or nonprescribed drugs.

See also Rules for Home and Family Visits
See If Offender is Partner.
See Keeping Your Children Safe.   


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