Family incest treatment is not family therapy, nor is it family group meetings that professionals coordinate. Family incest treatment takes place weekly for several hours for a minimum of eighteen months. Parents must be able to pay for this treatment. Given the time, the expense, and the likelihood of family break-up, family incest treatment is rare.

The goal is to make living together safe for children. Perpetrators in family incest treatment programs are fathers and stepfathers. They sometimes can be siblings. During treatment, perpetrators are not allowed to live with their families, and they cannot have unsupervised visits with their children. In some cases, families participate in family incest treatment without perpetrators. Perpetrators may be in prison, or mothers may have divorced their husbands who committed incest.

Perpetrators can only return to their families when the treatment professionals recommend this to courts, and then judges allow perpetrators to return. Perpetrators should never be allowed to live in families with children unless the families have successfully completed family incest treatment.

Sometimes family incest treatment fails. Perpetrators continue to abuse children sexually. In addition, they may be emotionally abusive to their spouses and children. The possibility of such failures requires professionals to ensure that they provide the best programs possible and that they be knowledgeable about risks to abuse again.

A Note of Caution

If survivors or any other family members do not want to participate in family incest treatment, no one should force them. If any family member does not want to be in the presence of a family member who is a perpetrator, their wishes must be respected. Children especially have to be well prepared to participate in treatment that includes perpetrators. Any sign that they are unprepared should immediately halt any plans for contact.

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