December 7, 2008
Incest refers to any sexual activity between closely related persons (often within the immediate family) that is illegal or socially taboo. The type of sexual activity and the nature of the relationship between persons that constitutes a breach of law or social taboo vary with culture and jurisdiction. Some societies consider it to include only those who live in the same household, or who belong to the same clan or lineage; other societies consider it to include "blood relatives"; other societies further include those related by adoption or marriage. There are several types of incest; sexual abuse of children, between childhood siblings, between consenting adults, between adult siblings, between adult cousins, and incest through marriage.
Incest perpetrated by an adult of either gender against a child is called "intrafamilial child sexual abuse." The most-often reported form of incest is of this inherently abusive form. Father-daughter and stepfather-daughter incest is most commonly reported, with most of the remaining reports consisting of mother/stepmother-daughter/son incest. Father-son incest is reported less often, however it is not known if the prevalence is less, because it is under-reported by a greater margin. Prevalence of parental child sexual abuse is difficult to assess due to secrecy and privacy; some estimates show 20 million Americans have been victimized by parental incest as children.
A study of victims of father-daughter incest in the 70s showed that there were "common features" within families prior to the occurrence of incest: estrangement between the mother and the daughter, extreme paternal dominance, the mother's inability to fulfill her traditional parental role and reassignment of some of the mother's major family responsibility to the daughter. Oldest and only daughters were more likely to be the victims of incest. Furthermore, it was stated...
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