Increased Self-Disclosure of Offending by Intrafamilial Child Sex Offenders

Jessica Pratley, Jane Goodman-Delahunty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acceptance of intrafamilial child sex offenders into a treatment program generally requires the offender to admit and accept responsibility for the crimes with which he was charged. Once this level of disclosure has been reached, it is rare for him to be challenged regarding other offences that he may have committed. Anecdotal clinical reports indicated that some offenders disclosed a higher level of abuse than that provided by the victim. This study built on the limited empirical research on this topic. The sample consisted of 124 male offenders referred for treatment at the NSW Pre-Trial Diversion of Offenders Program (Cedar Cottage) between 1989 and 2003. Analyses of disclosures by offenders referred to the program revealed that following contact with the Cedar Cottage personnel, all offenders disclosed significantly more details regarding their offending behaviour, irrespective of whether they were accepted into the program for treatment or declined. Eleven percent of the offenders disclosed victims beyond the individual identified in the index offence. Expanded details were also provided regarding victim age when offending began, the duration and frequency of offending, the number of locations where abuse occurred, and the range and intrusiveness of abusive acts committed. Program completers did not disclose more than noncompleters. These results suggested that the extent and nature of abuse by intrafamilial child sex offenders in the early stages of detection is underestimated. Refusal of offenders into treatment programs based on denial and minimisation is a practice that warrants review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
JournalSexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


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