Child Incest: The Effects of Molestation Can Last a Lifetime

The effects of child incest are devastating and profound. Most victims of child incest suffer from guilt, shame and post traumatic stress disorder which can trigger thoughts and feelings that transport the victim back to the abuse even later on in life. In this article, you'll learn some important facts about incest. You'll also get an inside look into how incest has impacted the quality of life of an adult survivor, as well as get the chance to share your thoughts and feelings or stories of your own ordeal.

First, some facts and statistics. Incest includes contact between family members who are not married and whose marriage would be considered illegal. It is estimated that one million Americans have been victims of incest with 16,000 new cases each year. Although there are no hard statistics for how often child incest occurs (the shroud of secrecy means that most cases go unreported), it is known that seventy-five percent of incest cases take place between fathers and daughters or step-daughters, so in this article we will focus solely on this issue. According to the research when this happens, the mother is usually living in the home and aware of what's going on, at least on some level, even though she may deny it.

Incest is a profound form of child abuse because it is a dual betrayal. Not only is the child's innocence and trust ruptured by the father whom she depends on for her safety and well-being, but the child feels abandoned by the mother—the one person in the world whom she believes should be willing to do whatever it takes to protect her daughter, even if it means leaving the man she depends on. Instead of taking care of her daughter's dependency needs, this selfish, frightened, deadbeat mom attends to her own.

One of the most devastating effects of child incest comes from the confusing constellation of feelings it creates: the incest was bad and shameful, but the act itself—the attention, contact and fondling by an attentive parent—may have created sensations that made the child feel good. Due to this, a child of incest usually ends up with a strong sense of self-loathing and unworthiness.

There is such a strong conflict between the power of the sexual experience and the interruption of the developmental process that most therapists don't know how to deal with victims of child incest and often make the situation worse because they enable the patient as a full time victim. This becomes a vicious cycle and a justification for maladaptive behavior. child incest Some of the symptoms of child incest include low self esteem, depression, developmental autisms (growth is often stunted at the time that the trauma first occurred), eating disorders, fear of doctors and dentists, thoughts that interfere with healthy behaviors and the inability to form intimate relationships with others or be authentic sexually as an adult because they have difficulty sharing intimate thoughts from sexual experience.

Most victims punish themselves unconsciously because they feel that they are intrinsically unworthy. As adults, they may choose husbands who treat them poorly, careers that do not fulfill them and make other choices that create a lifetime of suffering in big and small ways. Or they may go the other way and their status as a child incest victim may make them feel self-entitled.

Some incest victims drown their past in alcohol or drugs. They may have borderline personality disorder which is characterized by sudden changes in temperament and by the statement: I hate you, but don't you dare leave me. They are also at risk for post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and phobias. Some become hypersexual as adults; while others are frigid and cannot let go with anyone, even a partner who they are beginning to trust in other ways. Their relationships with significant others tend to be dysfunctional because they have an underlying sense of mistrust for people, do not feel safe in the world and develop a secret self.

Whatever the symptoms, child incest destroys the innocence of a child and leaves a ruinous future in its wake. Therapy can help, however, the focus in therapy should be on learning how to get past childhood trauma and value the self. Many therapists do this by guiding adults to reconnect with the inner child, feel her openness, vulnerability and desire to be loved by her parents and recognize that she was not the bad one, nor was she responsible in any way for her sexual abuse.

By learning to love and parent that little girl who did not have parents who valued or cherished her, adult victims of child incest can heal from their experiences, own their power and beauty and consciously change their course in life.

If you are interested in therapy to get past experiences of child sexual abuse, my husband is a therapist who has specialized in working with trauma victims for over thirty years. To learn more, click on the Contact Us link on the navigation bar to the left and I will put you in touch with him. Note: therapy is a long term commitment that requires money and time. You must be committed to the process in order to heal and recreate your life.

Author's Note: There has been a strong reaction to this article, particularly by mothers who later found out that their daughters were sexually abused by their stepfathers. In this article, I focus exclusively on children whose mothers knew on some level that their husband was molesting their child and did nothing to stop it and what this creates in the child and the woman she becomes. There are many common scenarios in childhood molestation cases and I can't possibly cover all of them in one article. If you find yourself offended by this article, then pause and ask yourself why. If you feel bad that you have a daughter who is one of the walking wounded due to experiences of incest during childhood, then learn how you can help her and how you can help yourself get past the guilt of not knowing that something like this was going on in your home. Obviously, child predators can be very sneaky, but knowing this does not usually wipe away a mother's sense of guilt. Let's start a conversation about how mothers can heal from their feelings around this and I will use this to write an article that will benefit families that have walked through this experience.

About the Author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting, which is about how raising your children to discover their strengths can help you find your own. Her book won a Nautilus Award sponsored by Martha Stewart Omnivision for "books that promote conscious living and social change."

Click below to read letters from an adult survivor of child incest to her mother and father about their failure to be the parents she needed them to be. Make sure to come back to this page and post your comments and stories.

Please feel free to post your comments and stories on child incest and its effects below. Also, you can read comments and stories submitted by others.

Recommended Reading:





Do you have comments or stories about child incest?

Do you have comments, stories or questions about child incest? Submit them below.

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]

 

Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

 submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

Comments & Stories about Child Incest Submitted by Other Parents

Click below to see comments and stories about child incest from other visitors to this page...

Annoyed by the Term Incest 
I'd just like to comment on the term "Incest". I find it a disturbing, misleading word that only serves to soften the reality of rape. I feel incest is …

The Long Term Effect of Incest 
Don't know were to begin. My life has sucked for me! Civil war, my mom left me, my cousin raped me, my dad sexually abused me etc. I can't imagine how …

My Doctor's Daughter 
I have come across a situation where I beieve the father is setting his daughter up for incest, possible sexual relations and pregnancy. Its all a process …

Abandoned  
I am 44 years old. My father sexually abused me and my childhood was destroyed. My whole life I have been ridiculed and further abused. There was more …

family incest continues 
I was raped and molested by dad til age 7 when they divorced. mom was crazy when 13 because of what dad did to me. i got a good foster home but the dumb …

Only the male parent? 
I don't agree with the article, which seem to state that only the male parent is a possible abuser. Please don't forget that there are mothers too which …

daydreams 
My father sexually abused me when I was fourteen years old, he came back the next day to do it again. I split into another world and lived in a fantasy …

how can a mother possibly know her child is being sexually abused by her husband when she is working hard to pay the bills and there is no sign of the abuse? 
My husband came from a completely incestuous family where his sister was in fact his mother and he had a daughter by his niece. His father had been in …

Father abuses Son 
My first memories are of my father fondling me and performing oral sex on me. When I was 7 he bought me a bike and in the middle of the night …

Molested By Pediatrician at 13 
I was given my first "adult" physical by my pediatrician 35 years ago. The man molested me - measured my penis with a cloth tape measure (among other things) …

Father love 
What about cases where the adult daughter is still in love with her father, even after there was incest. Why does she continue to love him and drastically …

Hating your mother 
What if the mother never knew of such a thing as incest. What if the mother never seen any signs of any sexual advances, other than what she thought was …

Mother Abandonment by Child of Incest 
What if your mother had no knowledge of incest between her husband and her daughter. If the daughter does not come to her mother and explain what her …

I was pampered and groomed by my mother to be her husband. 
Ever since I can remember my mother has treated me as special. We only deserve the best. The best clothes food attention; whatever it may be. My father …

Shunned By Siblings After Mom's Death 
In my 37th year I went through divorce and feelings of helplessness because my brother and Father still verbally perpetrated me and Mom hated me. I escaped …

Dear Parents and others who have abused me, this is how I feel at this moment in time 
my mother tells me I am all she has, I am her only family, she still hates me, she only wants me when she needs chores doing, my father the man who abused …

Incest Has Cost Me My Life 
I have been victimized my entire life by my father. I am 48 years old and my father still pursues me. I am dying inside and have hit a brick wall in my …

My Sister had Incest Relations with my Stepfather 
In order to be healed survivors of rape and sexual abuse must come out of the isolation, self denial and hiding. It is true that telling it to loved ones …

Terrible Guilt Due to Child Incest 
I was also incested by my father. It started on a trip that he took me on when I was 11. I was an "early developer" and I was aware for almost a year that …

incest survivor  
I am finally dating a very good man, he has an eleven year old daughter. Things have gotten difficult for me. You mentioned your husband is a therapist, …

Incest and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
Thanks for your article, it is good to see that the incest is taken seriously. The article does not however not cover any practical measures …

Disgusted 
Wow the man is the perpetrator but look how you describe the poor mother as a criminal accomplice! Do you think it is so easy an accusation to make? Look …

Incest - My Brother and Me 
Incest: My Brother and Me When I was around 3 or 4 I was raped by my own brother. My mother walked in on one incident and told my brother, who was 11 …

Confused but dnt noe if i can say used 
When I was a child I had sex with someone who was a year younger than me in my family. We both are females. I was a bit slow I believe growing up. For …

Click here to write your own.

Vacant mom 
I also was a victim of incest. Ignored by my mother. Not clothed or care for in any way, one could suggest I was a kid from an 3rd world country. …

The system adds more abuse and exploitation Not rated yet
Unfortunately, many people who attempt to receive help for incest find themselves confronted by a system that exacerbates their symptoms and confusion. …

rape, injury, hell Not rated yet
I was physically abused from the time I was a baby and the sexual abuse started when I was 3. I started running away at age 13, at age 14 I was gang raped …

Losing ground... Not rated yet
My husband is a victim of incest. His older sister molested him over a summer when he was 5 and she was 13. The mother put them in bed together while …

i didnt know  Not rated yet
My now ex husband raped mY daughter, I haven't seen her in almost 2 years, he fathered my grandchild and knew it the entire time and I delivered her and …

to the ones that think moms sholdnt be blamed: some moms may not know but many "mothers" are in a blissful denial Not rated yet
The signs are there! I remember teachers telling my mother I had become withdrawn, my teacher told her there was something wrong. I tried to bring it …

blaming the mother Not rated yet
Why do they seem to blame the mother if there is father daughter incest. They try to say that in most cases the mother knows about it. In my case, I …

I was molested by the same gender Not rated yet
My mother died when I was an infant and I was being raised by my father, until my family members decided that he could use his sister in raising his two …

blame the abuser, trust me they don't need any help in seeking others to take responsibility for their crimes Not rated yet
Hello. My daughters were sexually abused by their father. Sorry, I am not a dead beat mom and I never knew he was sexually abusing my daughters. That is …

Mothers molest sons also. I know. Not rated yet
I have found that there is so much attention paid to female victims that boys and men are left out to fend for themselves. Boys are automatically the …

don't know how to handle this Not rated yet
I'm dealing with a unique situation. In August I met a woman (I'm also a woman) and we began seeing each other. A month into the relationship she tells …

Comment about content Not rated yet
In regards to the article "Child Incest: The Effects of Molestation Can Last a Lifetime" I would like to say that I'm bothered by your assumption that …

I elect to be a functioning adult female and I don't know how. Not rated yet
I need help becoming a functioning retired adult female of incest. This was performed on me by an uncle, he's deceased for many years, but the effect is …

Letting Go Not rated yet
My comment to the writer about worrying about what to do with her so called "mother" is the same story for me. I have cut the narssistic bitch loose in …

my wife Not rated yet
i am married to someone who in a incestual relationship with her father do i have grounds for divorce?

My uncle raped me for 8 years. Not rated yet
I'm 43 years old now, and it's been nearly 30 years since it happened, but I'm still so messed in the head. I tried therapy, with medication, and it hasn't …

healing is possisable Not rated yet
For anyone that has been a victim of the "Crime of All Crimes" (Incest), you need someone that can convince them that they can unselfishly care about themselves. …

I was totally unaware. Not rated yet
I learned of my daughter's trauma when she was 17. My husband, her father, had been fondling her from age 8 to 17. I never had any clue what was going …

43 and raped by dad Not rated yet
im 43 and was adopted because my mom caught my biological father on top of me. I remember telling my mom what was going on but my dad always said it was …

A Feather in the Wind Not rated yet
Never knowing who I was, what I was, where I belonged.....floating here, floating there, like a feather....going nowhere really. At age 3 I knew what …

Blaming Mother Not rated yet
Why is the mother to blame about something the father did. What if the mother didn't even know that was going on and knew nothing about such a thing as …

I have been molested by my father and other people Not rated yet
I feel like my whole life has been destroyed because of my father. I was wondering many times why i am always confused. My life is a disaster and I do …

My father used me sexually from age 4 to age 30 Not rated yet
My life is consumed with attempts to heal from the effects of being sexually used by my father for decades. I have a horrible amount of shame from the …

Question on Child Incest Not rated yet
Let me first begin by thanking you for the good work you are doing to make everyone aware of how to deal with children who have suffered child incest and …

I was married to such a victim Not rated yet
My now ex wife was this little girl. We were married for 29 years. I knew for years she had this happen in her past. I kept asking her to get help. She …

Click here to write your own.

My (not yet ex) husband has started dating a child of incest and is bringing my son with him Not rated yet
The woman he is seeing is still married by the way, as is he. She is extremely promiscuous. She had many affairs in while she was married (in cars, trucks, …

Molestation and Sisters in pain Not rated yet
Your story just described my life! The only differences are my father died a few years ago and I'm 34. i don't want to feel this way when I'm 54! I didn't …

Adopted son, and his sister that were not raised together acting like boyfriend and girlfriend Not rated yet
We adopted our son when he was 14 months old, he was the only one that we adopted after he was 18 we helped him find his sisters and mother, the one sister …

Dream about Childhood Incest - Real or Imagined? Not rated yet
Please help. I have been just told by my gf that she had a semi lucid memory or dream of an experience lived when she was 2 years old. She was almost …

Understanding Shana Not rated yet
Shana is a 31yr old Brazilian female whom I have met and fallen in love with. She has most of the symptoms of incest and is at an emotionally critical …

How Incest Affected Me Not rated yet
Can't stand to be in tight spaces. Very promiscuous. Fearful of rejection. Lonely. Overly sensitive to children and animals and suffering of any type. …

Forgotten Rape Not rated yet
I was fully convinced that I had been sexually abused, but for the longest time couldn't remember it. It took me about 4 years to recall the memory of …

Sad for the Abused girl Not rated yet
This story made me feel sad for the abused girl because as a little girl I was abused more by my brothers than by my stepfather. My stepfather beat my …

Regarding The letter to the Mother I Never Had Not rated yet
You really need to heal first and start learning about yourself. You are very giving of yourself to be able to care for your parent's still. I advise …

Click here to write your own.



Parenting

Site Build It!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.