Incarcerated or Out of Home

If the father is the abuser, and if he was convicted for the crime and is currently incarcerated, the need continues for the mother to provide ongoing support to the child. Several issues are relevant to that scenario. The relationship between mother and child is critical to the child's recovery. If a strong emotional attachment was present between mother and father, the mother may continue that relationship through phone calls, letters, and visits while the father is incarcerated. The child victim may interpret this as betrayal and disloyalty. If older, the child will know how long the abuser will be incarcerated and will suspect that he will be returning to the home. She will be afraid and unable to progress in her recovery until she feels safe and protected from further abuse.

It is important that mothers understand that, without an offender receive professional sex offender treatment, the likelihood of continued abuse is high. Even with treatment, many precautions must be in place, including rules for contact, accountability, and even lie detector tests. Long-term recidivism (return to criminal behavior) studies are rare. However, one 25-year study (Langevin, Curnoe, Federoff, Bennett, Langevin, Peever, Pettica, & Sandhu, 2004) showed very high recidivism rates for sex offenders, with three of five offenders reoffending, using convictions or court appearances as critieria. The number was higher (four of five) when other offenses and undetected sex crimes were used as criteria. Sex offender treatment completion does not predict low recidivism rates. 

If the father or father-figure perpetrator is out of the home, but not convicted or incarcerated, the mother's responsibility is to provide safety. If no legal restraints are in place (e.g., Court-ordered supervised visits, Restraining Orders, No Contact Orders), then it is up to the mother to negotiate with the father the safest visitation schedule. Supervised visitation is optimal. If this is not possible, then agreement regarding minimal parenting time and no overnight visitation is an alternate, although less safe option. Without legal process and court order, the father has parental rights and freedom to access the child. Consultation with your attorney to determine your options.  

See Rules for Home and Family Visits


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