In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

Incest - Pernicious, Traumatic, and Largely Unreported

Incest is one of our society’s most devilish issues. More than that, the experience of sexual abuse as a child or adolescent is traumatic. Reporting it and talking about it are important things to do, whether you are the victim, the offender or a family member. Silence about incest only makes it more difficult for everybody.

 An article a few years back in Atlantic Monthly reported that:  

·        Between 25 and 33 percent of girls are sexually abused before they turn 18.

·        About 20 percent of boys are likewise sexually abused before 18. 

Not all incest is rape, but all incest is a grave offense because it has the potential to create lifelong physical, emotional, psychological, financial and spiritual problems. The Atlantic article mentioned that 95 percent of teen sex workers were sexually assaulted as children. 

·        Sexually abused children and youth are twice as likely to be arrested for a violent offense as adults

·        They experience mental health issues at twice the rate of those not sexually abused

·        Incest drives victims to suicide at twice the rate of non-assaulted teens

·        Substance abuse and eating disorders are frequently tied to sexual abuse. 

Although many of the sensational cases of childhood sexual abuse have focused on perpetrators (almost all men) OUTSIDE of the family, the fact is that the vast majority of incest happens WITHIN the family.  

While reporting it is important because people who commit incest must be held accountable, and because they can be successfully treated so as to never commit the crime again.

Just as importantly, victims must find support and treatment for their loss and injuries.  Here are a few resources for more education and support:   

·        Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

·        Trevor Project - for LGBTQ teens and adolescents

·        Survivors of Incest Anonymous - a 12-step program


Ending Sexual Violence Against Others

Ending Sexual Violence Against Others

Healthy Sexuality as Sexual Violence Prevention

Healthy Sexuality as Sexual Violence Prevention