Sexual Abuse and Incest

Sexual Abuse is more often than not done by somebody the victim knows and therefore being sexually abused by family members is extremely common. Just know that other people have been through what you have and any sexual contact that was not consented to was not at all your fault. Sexual Abuse that constitutes as incest is one of the least reported forms of sexual abuse due to the victim’s relationship with the perpetrator but there are resources out there available to you. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is a confidential service with training on supporting people with incest.

What is the Definition of Incest?

The term incest applies to any sexual contact from a member of your family. Due to the position of trust and authority family members have, incestual sexual abuse can have deep and long lasting impacts on their victims. Depending on the state you live in the sexual abuse could be charged as sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, or incest.

Why Do Survivors Find It Hard To Report Sexual Abuse By Family Members?

While it can be hard for all survivors of sexual abuse to report the crime, it can be particularly hard for those who know their abuser, and even more so if it was a family member who sexually assaulted them. There are many reasons why it is hard for them to talk about, some of them being:

  • The abuser might be a close family member who they love and they don’t want to get in trouble.

  • They may have already told someone about the abuse but were not believed or blamed for what was happening to them. Otherwise the person they told may have just ignored the abuse.

  • The abuser is threatening them or other families to get them to comply or stay silent about the abuse.

  • They don’t realize that what is happening is abuse because the perpetrator tells them this is a normal thing.

  • They might worry about the reactions of family members or friends that they will be judged as weak, or blamed for the abuse.

  • They don’t feel like they can trust anyone or are unsure where to turn to for help.

  • If the child is young the abuser might frame it as a game, or tell the child that they like it, or buy them gifts or treats afterwards so the child might be unaware that what is happening is abuse.

If you are being abused, there is help and support out there, be sure to contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline either by phone or online chat to speak to a specialist. They can be a friendly ear, offer advice, point you towards resources, or help you come up with a plan to get the assistance you need.

What To Do If You Think Someone Is Being Sexually Abused By A Family Member

  • Find resources online that you can point the victim towards or for conversation tips or prompts for yourself to open a respectful dialogue to express your concern and allow the person to open up to you.

  • If the victim is a minor you can call Child Protective Services or the police. In some states if you know a child is being sexually abused you are legally required to report it.

  • If someone who is being sexually abused chooses to tell you or open up to you about it listen to them. Tell them that you believe them and it is not their fault. Point them towards resources and help them come up with a plan.

  • If you are a child or minor yourself, share your concerns with an adult who is not a member of their family. This could be a teacher, your parents, a family friend, a religious leader, anyone you trust to look into the situation.

  • Contact the National Sexual Abuse Hotline to speak to a specialist who can assist you in how to assist the victim while also staying safe yourself.

Where Can I Find Support As A Survivor Of Incest?

Sexual abuse carries a lot of short term and long term effects on survivors, even more so when it is perpetrated by a family member. You may not have the support of your other family members in your recovery depending on how they react when you open up about it too. However there are plenty of resources out there to help you.

  • Contact National Sexual Assault Hotline to speak to a trained specialist who will listen, give advice on what to do, point you towards some local resources and support groups, and assist you with planning for your future.

  • Chat online to the same service if that is more suitable.

  • Find support groups in your community through organizations such as Survivors of Incest Anonymous.

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