Incest Is a Social Problem

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Incest is a Social Problem

Kelli Figley

Incest is a Social Problem

One out of every ten homes is not a home, but the cell of an incest victim, a child waiting in terror night after night, hoping against experience that her father will not come to her room tonight, that her body and trust will not be violated again (Vander Mey & Neff, 1986). I brought up the topic of incest in a conversation I was having with some close friends and out of the 5 people I was talking with, only one did not laugh at least once during the conversation. Does this mean that we find the topic of incest something that both parties are consenting to or that the underlying problem of child abuse is not recognized because this abuse is within your family? A document from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (2009) describes incest as sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent. Incest by a female (mother) is generally viewed as untrue because as a society we turn a blind eye to the fact that someone who is supposed to support us, teach us how to be a mother and be the shoulder to cry on could ever be the one to hurt a child sexually. Incest against females by females has added to the social issue of Incest because as society we are in denial. The social issue of incest has yet to be addressed as an ongoing problem as many people believe that it only happens once and that the person responsible feels guilty and does not do it again. Reality is that even if guilty many continue to abuse their children sexually “I remember that I touched my daughter about 60 or 70 times and a lot o those times we had intercourse. I usually felt really guilty about this and didn’t know how to deal with it” (Martens, 1988). As a society we are quick to place blame on anyone but the real perpetrator but to overcome this social issue we all need to work together to support those involved.

Who Does this Issue Affect?

The issue of Incest affects infants, toddlers, boys, girls, men and women varying in ages from birth to death. With incest defined as an act that is brought on by an older relative in families it is easy to assume that most Incest molesters wait until the child is old enough to know what is happening to them or at an age where experimentation is expected. This is not the case in Wiehe (1997) describes a respondent to his research as saying “Sexual abuse was a part of my life from the time I was an infant. The age of 3 months is the earliest memory I have.” How is someone who is 3 months old supposed to protect themselves, they cannot tell us that they have been hurt, who is responsible for the care of this 3 month old if it is the mother/father causing the abuse. Wiehe (1997) reports that in most cases of his research, the perpetrator of the abuse was an older brother or sister, generally 3 to 10 years older. He also reports that the younger sibling may have become a victim of the older sibling abuse because of a lack of knowledge regarding how to prevent sexual abuse. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (2009) suggests that there are very few reliable statistics on how often incest occurs. It is difficult to know how many people are affected by incest because many incest situations never get reported. Ogilvie (2004) found that females are more likely than males to be victims of childhood sexual abuse. There are many myths floating around about victims, the topic of incest and the results. Some myths include

“MYTH - Incest mainly takes place in "dysfunctional", working-class families. FACT- Incest occurs in families of every description and across all socio-economic groupings. Research indicates that there is little to distinguish between families where incest takes place and those where it...
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