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Incest - Prevalence Of Incest, Effects On Victims, Profile Of Offenders, Treatment

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Social Issues


Incest is the sexual exploitation of a person who is legally unable to give informed consent due to age, intellect, and/or physical impairment by an older person having a close family blood tie (e.g., parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or cousin) or a substitute for such a blood tie (e.g., stepparent, stepbrother, or stepsister). In short, incest can be defined as the sexual exploitation of a child by a relative with more power. Incest includes sexual contact, exhibitionism, masturbation, anal intercourse, exposure to sexually oriented media, or any acts that have a sexually stimulating component for either the victim or the perpetrator (Renvoize 1993). Sexual contact includes touching, kissing, fondling, or overt sexual contact such as intercourse, manual stimulation of genitals, and oral-genital contact (Trepper and Barrett 1989).

Incest often involves collusion of the nonperpetrating parent and/or siblings and occurs in an inclusive system (Glasser et al. 2001). Psychological preparation for incest often occurs within a family by way of dissolving healthy generational boundaries. Some victims are manipulated by withdrawal of love or affection or with rewards of money, objects, and/or time with the perpetrator. Incest perpetrators often use elaborate methods of persuasion to manipulate victims. Isolation and secrecy is part of the grooming period that often comes before actual incest. Perpetrators use trust, favoritism, alienation, secrecy, and boundary violations to prepare children to participate in sexual activities (Christiansen and Blake 1990).


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