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:
· Trevor Project - for LGBTQ teens and adolescents
· Survivors of Incest Anonymous - a 12-step program