Incest: the Story Behind the Taboo

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Deborah Love Brady

Dechesnay, M. (1985). Father-Daughter Incest: An Overview. Behavioral Sciences & the Law , 391-402.

(Dechesnay, 1985)
Dechesnay’s article emphasizes the traits of the incestuous father and possible familial factors that may be cited as reasons for his deviant behavior. This article focuses on incest between father and daughter. Dechesnay surmises that according to research often the offending father sees himself as the patriarch of the family and that is his right and responsibility to teach his daughter about sex. Ms. Dechesnay reports that over thirty-five percent of all father-daughter incest is perpetrated by the biological father and that often the father shows other sadistic behavior towards his children and wife. Dechesnay also investigates the relationship between the mother and daughter and reports that often the mother is most often withdrawn because of various factors, including alcohol abuse. The author asserts that many times even when the abuse has been reported and substantiated the mother figure in the home denies that the abuse and accuses her daughter of lying. In conclusion, Dechesnay states that father-daughter incest is a family problem and should be treated as such. She suggests in-depth treatment for the daughter, rehabilitation for the father, training for the mother, and therapy for other family members.

Haller, O. L., & Alter-Reid, K. (1986). Secretiveness and Guardedness: A Comparison of Two Incest-Survivor Samples. American Journal of Psychotherapy , 554-563.

(Haller & Alter-Reid, 1986)
Haller and Alter-Reid explore the secretiveness of incest in their article. They assert that from the onset, children that are victims of incest are given the idea, whether implied or stated, by the perpetrator that they must keep the incest a secret. One of the ideas the authors state is that there is danger and safety in the secretiveness; danger, because the abuse continues, and safety, because keeping the secret protects the child and perhaps other family members from being hurt in other ways by the abuser. Their statements are substantiated by the fact that rarely when a child discloses the incest, rarely are they believed and most often the abuse continues, making the threats of the perpetrator virtually true. Haller and Alter-Reid discuss many aspects of the nature of sexual abuse and the lasting effects. They also, citing case studies of adult women who have suffered incest, contrast ‘survivors’ and ‘victims’ of incest. In conclusion, Haller and Alter-Reid contend that the difference in the two comes down to keeping the secret and protecting the abuser and other family members or telling the secret and seeking help.

Dylan McLeod
Cyr, M., Wright, J., McDuff, P., & Perron, A. (2002). Interfamilial sexual abuse: brother-sister incest does not differ from father-daughter and stepfather-stepdaughter incest. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(9), 957. The point of this study was to identify and establish three groups of girls. The girls studied were those who were sexually abused by brothers, fathers or stepfathers. They hoped to also identify some of the basic characteristics of the abuse, environments, and psychosocial distress of these children. Method: Seventy-two girls aged between 5 and 16 were assigned to one of the three groups. Subjects were matched between groups on the basis of their actual age. Both children and parents completed different surveys and test, as well as state social workers. What they found was shockingly few differences in the characteristics of sexual abuse between the three groups. The only main difference that they were able to identify was that penetration abuse was much more frequent in the sibling incest group (70.8%) than in the stepfather incest (27.3%) or father incest (34.88) groups. When sibling abuse was compared with that of father and stepfather abuse, brothers were found to have been raised in families with...
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