Incest is when someone in a persons family has sex or acts in an inappropriate sexual way with another member of that family. This can be a parent, step-parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or cousin. In cases of childhood sexual abuse, incest is especially devesting because it affects the entire family. In many cases the child is afraid to tell for fear of upsetting the balance of the entire family. For fear of hurting the other parent or having to have the abusive parents leave the family. Fear of not being believed is especially common because it is much easier for people to believe a child when they tell on a stranger than to believe a family member might be capable of such a heinous act.
Incest affects a childs whole beleif system. It is very hard for a child to believe a loved one would hurt them in anyway. The child blames themselves rather than the person who is suppose to love and protect them. AS an adult, an incest victim, has a very difficult time with trust and intimacy issues. Many times, the other parent might know or suspect the child is being abused but because that parent does not want to break up the family unit, the abuse is shoved under the rug, not talked about, ignored. Thus the child grows up being just as angry at the parent for not protecting them as they are at the abuser.
Often the child grows into adulthood without having ever told anybody in the family about the abuse. This adult is full of anger, hurt, confusion, shame, and guilt. The adult might feel anger at other members of the family for not protecting them even though nobody else in the family knew what was going on. Still, in that childs mind, they feel someone should have protected them and so anger is a big issue with many incest survivors.
The rest of the family, often blames the victim for causing trouble in the family. So often in adulthood, incest victims are estranged from many members of their family or they continue to be treated with anger and disbelief by those people. They may still subject themselves to being around the abuser and not confronting that person because they want to keep the family unit in tact... Because of all these reasons, incest victims grow into adulthood with a very low sense of self-esteem.
Addictions and eating disorders can be common amongst incest victims as they continually try to find ways to cope with the painful feelings that being around their family members bring up. They might feel that they have no control over the world around them and view these disorders as things that they do have control over. This can also be a cause for self-mutiliation (cutting) and for suicide attempts.
These are only some of the affects of incest.. So much depends on how other members of the family reacted to the abuse once it was disclosed. If the child was believed and loved and shown support and compassion, than chances are their effects will not be as severe as the person who was never validated by their family. All abuse is severe, from the smallest touch to cases of rape.. victims suffer the same.
There is help available and healing is very possible and probable if you start to deal with what happend to you during your childhood. Below are letters of personal experience from childhood survivors of incest. It is important to read other peoples stories so that you know you are not alone, see how others coped, what helps the most in your healing journey and so that you can realize how universal the effects of childhood sexual abuse really are.
The first time that I was abused, that little girl was destroyed in every way possible.. It affected me emotionally. Had, and still has a huge impact on my self-esteem, and my worth. My concept of love, and what it was. Believing and trusting anyone. The abuse affected me physically, and the fear of rejection was so great all my life.. It had a major affect on my Education. The sexual abuse I suffered has affected my relationship with my husband of 22 years right from the beginning.. The abuse has affected the way I parented my boys.
First how it affected me emotionally... After the abuse started I became very shy, withdrawn. I drew deeper into myself, putting up walls to stop the pain I was feeling.. I was full of fear. Afraid I was going to be put into a bad girls home, because I didn't want to do what he wanted. That little girl I was couldn't even play like a little girl anymore, I just didn't know how.. I was told your a big girl now, you play big girls games now.. I was taught to betray my own gut feelings, because it lies... The core of my being was being destroyed. I have been afraid all my life, to show emotions, of any kind, because they lie. To feel, and show compassion, was so hard.. The fear overpowered me. I'm in and out of depression.... Sometimes wondering, why am I alive.... I have had panic attacks and a lot of anxiety, which has caused a stomach ulcer.. My stress level is very high. The major affect the abuse had, and still has is on my self-esteem, worth and physical looks. All my life I thought I was worthless. I didn't even respect myself. I Couldn't do anything right.. I Wasn't important enough to make a different in this world.. I Couldn't believe in myself.. I Couldn't trust my own gut feelings, because I was taught you can't listen to it. I couldn't believe I'm a good person, because I was told for so long I'm a bad person. I didn't think I deserved friends. I Hated being a girl. I can't stand tall and be proud of who I am. Thinking maybe If I was fat, the abuse would stop. Thought I deserve to be punished, because I did bad things. Its taken me over 30 years to realize I didn't do anything wrong.
Through out my life, I couldn't take a chance in anything, to much fear of failure.. I can't stand up for myself, and what I believe in, because of the fear I have inside. I took chances has a child but only to be hurt more deeply.. So I stop.. I would let people walk all over me. I know, now I'm a good person, and worth being alive.. I just have to keep reminding myself of that, and it hard. For the first time in years I can say I like and care about myself now.. Its taken a lot of hard and painful work.
The concept of love, was so mess up.. Before the abuse started, I was hugged, and cuddling and had loving words said to me.. But after the abuse started, the only thing I was shown was what pain was like. Love meant sex, that's what I was taught.. My feelings didn't matter.. I didn't matter.. I was taught if you love me, you will do what ever I want.. Even if I didn't like it. If I fought I got hurt even more. I was taught to show love, it meant sex, pain and fear rolled into one. I had a very hard time showing love to anyone. I had, and still have so much love to give, but the fear inside was to overpowering. Love can be shown in many ways, and it is a beautiful thing. I know this now. I have loss so many precious years. All I ever wanted when I was a child is a daddy who loved me has his little girl.......
The abuse affected my learning in school.. I couldn't concentrate, couldn't learn.. Most of the time, I wasn't even in the room with all of the other children. I was in dreamland hiding. I couldn't speak up, when I need help.. To afraid.. The wall that I built to protect myself, even closed down my ability to learn.. I was told so many times by my father that I was only good for sex, and nothing else. I left school in the middle of grade 11, because I wasn't smart enough to continue, that is what I believed. So the chance of finding a great Job was lost..
Believing and trusting.. I have such a hard time trusting .. So afraid of being rejected. So much fear of being hurt.. Its so hard to believe, in someone if I have a hard time believing in myself.. I trusted my father, and believed everything he said.. and that only brought me pain and suffering. Now, has a adult, I still have a very hard time, trusting.. I'm always afraid, of the hurt, and pain returning. But I'm starting to believe and trust myself, so hopefully that will help me trust others..
My life right now, is in turmoil.. Not even sure, what kind of life I will have.. I'm losing one of the most important people in my life.
The abuse I suffered as a child. Is having a major impact on my feelings, towards myself and everyone I care about.. To show compassion, to myself and my love ones, is very hard.. The emotions and feelings are inside of me, but the lessons I was taught, and the wall I built needs to be broken down.. I'm tired of being trapped. I want to be free.
I have been in therapy for a year in a half now.. Slowly working on myself.. I have been in group abused therapy for two sessions, and continuing with it. Letting other people know I have been abused is a big step for me... I was always taught its was my fault the abuse happened, so I better not tell. I was only a child......
I know my life would have gone, in a different direction if I never had to suffer the sexual abuse I did. So many years of my life, are gone because of the abuse ...
The abuse I suffered has had a major affect on how I raised my children... I have two boys 18 and 14. My husband has helped a great deal guiding our children in the right direction.
The abuse has affected how I show affection to my children... It was so hard to say the words I love you... Because of the wall I built.. The love was inside of me.. I was scared to show love, and for so long couldn't understand why.. I do now.. I have always loved my boys, and I will never stop. I was unable to be there a lot of the time has a parent.. Because I didn't a have good role model to follow..
Playing with my children I never really did.. How do you play? I had no idea.. I never really had a change to be a little girl myself, so how would I know. I couldn't even read stories to them at night, because I didn't have enough faith in myself to be able to read the book.
To discipline my children and teach them right from wrong was very difficult for me... Any conflict with my boys scared the heck out of me.. I suddenly felt like a child myself.. Then became very afraid. So I just back down..
So Yes, the sexually abuse I suffered has affected the lives of my boys in so many ways.. So many precious years have been lost, for me, and my boys... Lost for ever.......
How the sexual abuse affected my Relationship with my husband over the years of our marriage.. The abuse has had a huge impact on our relationship. The major affect that the abuse had and still has in our marriage is sex. I have always thought about sex has something very dirty, disgusting, and bad. I have always been embarrassed and ashamed to talk about sex. I was taught has a child its something you don't talk about, cause its a secret. Sex only meant pain. I was never the one to start, or even try to seduce my husband. When my husband would come to me to give affection and want sex.. Most of the time I would refuse him. It could be up to 16 weeks without sex... This was so very hard on our relationship. Sex scares me.. When we had sex, I would dislocate from my body.. So than I became a empty person.. My husband knew. He would always comment, your just laying there... This hurt him very deeply.. The behaviour that was drilled into me has a child stayed with me throughout my marriage without even knowing it.
The second affect the abuse has had on my marriage is for me to show feelings, emotions, compassion, towards my husband.. I felt these things inside.. I'm just to afraid to express them.. In fear of being hurt again. I have a lot of fear, opening up to my husband, scared of rejection, and of being hurt. Over the years of our marriage, there has been a lot of pain cause because of my abuse.. I couldn't show affection to my husband when he needed it most. I couldn't let him see how much I love him... The last year and a half, has been a terrible time for us both.. I fell into a deep depression. Didn't want sex or to be touch. Sometimes didn't care if I lived or died.... Became very distant from my husband... Push him away... Said terrible things about him.. Basically over the years I've hurt my husband, by refusing him sex, affection, compassion, understanding, because the trauma I suffered my brain blocked out all of the abuse until the last few years. That was the only way I survived. Now, our marriage is in very bad shape.. So much hurt on both sides... My husband went to Scotland in July, for a trial separation.. He's not to sure he wants to be married to me. He says he's not in love with me anymore. The pain and hurt I feel inside is so strong.. My heart is breaking. I have always been in love with my husband... Because of the abuse I went through. I build a wall, and everyone I loved couldn't see or get through it. I was safe and protected that way. I have destroyed my own marriage.. He is a big part of my life. All I can do is hope and pray he can fall in love with me again. I can only hope my husband can see I'm starting to heal, and becoming the real person I should have always been. My husband did come back from Scotland, Only for the sake of our children.. For the time being ,we aren't being intimidate, that's the way he wants it. We are just in the same house. Which is so hard for me. Its ripping me apart emotionally.. We went for marriage consoling, to see if we can save our marriage.. Its not going well at all. I want to share my life, and be with him for the rest of our lives.. What is ahead of me I really don't know, and that scares me..
Another stain on the marriage is for my husband to understand that I didn't remember the abuse until a few years ago.. I can't explain why I didn't remember it.. The only thing I can say is, I wasn't ready to handle and deal with what I suffered. The trauma, was to over powering. So it stayed buried, so I could survive. But my subconscious, knew all the time.
Yes, I would say the sexual abuse I suffered by my father has had a huge impact on my relationship with my husband... So many years of pain and suffering for both of us.... Now my husband says it could be to late for us.. . Life without him, I can't image it. Now, I feel empty, and alone in this world.. All I ever wanted in life was for someone to love me unconditional..
Now, I'm 44 years old, Starting to feel and show emotions, and love, and I have no one to share it with. I'm alone again. To deal with my pain.
I hope one day, I can be a whole complete person, who is happy, enjoys and loves life, and lets all the love I have out.. I should have had this right, from the beginning, instead of pain, fear, and hurt. `So many lives have been affected by the abuse I suffered. I not going to give up, until I am the person I should have been right from the start..... Its just so hard, to keep fighting this fight. Joanne Impact statement by our ASofNow member Joanne:
Where to find Help
Incest Recovery Association
Incest Survivors Information Exchange
The National child Abuse Helf/IOF hotline
Survivors of Incest Anonymous