Family sexual abuse is shrouded in secrecy and social stigma. Incest is concealed from family members, communities, schools and neighbors. Hence, it is under-reported, unpunished and under-treated. Sadly, many victims suffer in silence and experience various problems as a result. Research approximate that sibling incest may be five times the rate of parent-child sexual abuse. Sibling sexual abuse has been discounted as “child’s play”. Studies are documenting the traumatic, chronic and negative repercussions of sibling sexual abuse.
As sibling sexual abuse remains concealed and is not addressed, victims do not see themselves as victimized. Incestuous behaviors are often invisible in stressed and chaotic families. In addition, sexual behavior frequently occurs in the context of play and young victims are likely to find these activities pleasurable.
Similar to other forms of child sexual abuse, there is an evolutionary element to the abuse. In the early stages of the relationship, the sexual nature of the behaviors are less apparent–hidden in special hugs, games and play involving physical touch. A young child who is naive is unlikely to recognize these behaviors as inappropriate. Typically, the behaviors will progress to more explicit, invasive and possibly even coercive sexual activities.
Victims who feel guilt and shame in the context of a non-supportive family may fear disclosing the abuse and feeling responsible. The abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, poor work performance and interpersonal difficulties. It is recommended that victims work with an experienced professional to disclose their secrets earlier to overcome the fear, secrecy and shame.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and La Jolla 92037 area.