Polygraph Test

The polygraph test is a tool used by sex offender treatment providers to provide accountability to offenders in treatment. Spouses of sex addicts often request a polygraph test, independent of legal charges, to elicit full disclosure of sexual activities and to provide a baseline. 

Reunification is often discussed by families when the perpetrator of child sexual abuse is a husband or partner. Prior to reunification, certain preconditions must be met in order to protect the child from further abuse. If the offender is father or father figure in the home, the mother may have asked him to move out at the time of the child's disclosure. Or during the investigation, he may been required to leave in order for the child to remain at home. Or he may been convicted and incarcerated for the crime of sexual abuse. However, at this time, preferably following sex offender treatment, the family is planning for his return to the home. Many safety precautions should be in place, including House Rules and Guidelines. Children should have and Alert List, and the family should be aware of Warning Signs.

A polygraph test should be conducted prior to reunification, and this should be separate for any testing required previously during the legal process or by treatment providers. This polygraph test should be requested by the spouse, and questions initiated that will provide full information regarding the perpetrator's prior sexual behaviors. (See questions below.) Periodic polygraphs are recommended every three months for the first year, and every six months thereafter, to provide continued accountability and establish a level of family trust. It is, however, not recommended that the family ever "forget" the previous events and discontinue measures that maintain the safety of children.

The most effective polygraph tests are "full disclosure polygraphs" that take between two to three hours initially. A full disclosure will collect the addict's sexual history, and then the examiner will ask any specific questions requested by the spouse.

You can check the yellow pages under "polygraph" or Google "polygraph examiner." Or check with local attorneys who can provide names of polygraph examiners who conduct "full disclosure polygraphs." Not all do. Be sure to find someone who allows the full set of questions, plus additional ones. Many polygraph examiners limit questions to less than five. 

Following the polygraph test, it is recommended that the results be reviewed with a counselor so that a third party is present to help you debrief. 

Questions for the Polygraph Test
When inquiring about a polygraph examiner, and when preparing for the polygraph test, make sure that you have the opportunity to provide four to eight "yes" or "no" questions that you want specifically answered.

The following questions are suggestions, and some are adapted from the workbook Betrayal and Beyond, Book One (page 144) by Diane Roberts (2009). These questions are formulated to assist you if you desire to reestablish your marriage following the disclosure. You will want full disclosure of all sexual activities prior to family reunification. It is best to know the facts. During your partner's recovery, it is recommended that you believe behaviors that you can see, rather than words spoken by the perpetrator.   
1. During the course of our relationship or marriage, have you had sexual contact with another woman? Have your had sexual contact with more than one partner? Do I know this person? Do you continue to have contact with one of these prior sexual contact, either at work or socially?  
2. Have you previously used the services of prostitutes? Is this something that you have done on more than one occasion? 
3. Have you gone to x-rated establishments and engaged in sexual activity? Is this something you have done on more than one occasion?
4. Have you gone to topless bars? 
5. At any time during our relationship or marriage, have you paid for sexual favors from anyone, either male or female?
6. Have you ever had sexual activity with a male partner? Are you sexually aroused and attracted to men? Have you had sexual activity with a male partner on more than one occasion?
7. Have you used the internet to obtain sexual partners (via chat rooms or advertisements)? Have you had sexual activities with partners obtained via the internet?
8. Do you use the internet to view pornography? Have you used the TV to view sexually explicit shows? Have you obtained and used magazines, movies, and other pornographic materials for sexual arousal? Do you view pornography more than one time/week? Do you view pornography on a daily basis? Do you masturbate while viewing pornography?
9. During the course of our relationship or marriage, have you masturbated more than two to three times/week? Have you ever masturbated on a daily basis?
10. Have you used the cell phone for sexting? Have you used the internet to share sexually explicit pictures with a potential sex partner or someone with whom you had prior sexual contact?
11. Have you ever had sex with an animal?
12. Have you been honest with your wife/partner about these issues? Have you been honest with at least one other person who will hold you accountable?

The following questions involved child sexual abuse. Polygraph examiners are mandated reporters. Responses may require the examiner to make a report in order to protect children.
1. Are you sexually aroused by children?
2. Have you had sexual contact with a child? With more than one child?
3. Have you had sexual contact with a child who is not a member of your family?
4. Have you had sexual contact with the same child on more than one occasion?
5. Have you had sexual contact with a female child? Have you had sexual contact with a male child?
6. Have you had engaged in oral sex with a child? Have you engaged in vaginal sex with a child? Have you engaged in anal sex with a child?
7. Have you used violence to force a child to comply with your demand for sexual activity (i.e., slapping)? Have you threatened a child with punishment or severe consequences to force a child to comply with your demand for sexual activity?
8. Do you continue to fantasize about having sex with a child?

Again, these are suggestions. It is important that mothers know the level of risk presented by the perpetrator. Offenders will minimize previous sexual activity, and the polygraph test obtains answers to questions that mothers need to have? However, more than the actual questions and the process of testing, the perpetrator's response to the request for a polygraph test informs the mother of his motivation for changed behavior. If he is angry or resistant regarding taking the test, it is likely that he continues to be a high risk to children, and reunification would not be recommended at this time.

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