Family stories of incest

It’s been a really busy few days and I’ve had no time to write. I stayed at my Dad’s house on Friday night – he lives about 90 minutes from where I live. We talked about history repeating itself – he left me for work after my parents split, and now my ex husband is doing the same. Like father, like ex.

I’m not sure what this says about my choice of husband. What attracted me but wasn’t good for me.

Then after driving back into the city on Saturday morning, I had brunch with my Mom and an aunt who was married to one of my father’s brothers. I haven’t seen her in 25 years or so. During that brunch, I found out that not only did my grandfather sexually abuse one of my aunts, another uncle (her older brother) did as well.

My Dad wanted me to have nothing to do with his parents. I’m sure he knew about what his father did to his sister, but he has never discussed it with me.

I’m still processing this. The thought of father-daughter sexual relations makes my skin crawl. Of course sister-brother does as well. My aunt (the abused one) has never had therapy for this. Neither has my uncle, as far as anyone knows.

Before I knew about this, I could have written a whole book on the dysfunction of my Fathers family. While this helps explain some of it, it’s not something I particularly wanted to know. Wanted to face.

I’m sure some of you out there have had to face similar issues. I welcome any advice on how to process it.

0 thoughts on “Family stories of incest

  1. I was physically abused by my mum’s partner as a child and it still impacts me to this day. It knocked my confidence and at times I become angry beyond what the situation requires. I attended conselling which helped but it still affects me.

  2. As having been on the receiving end of abuse at the hands of family all I can say is there is no answer to how to deal with it.

    You need to find how you can live with what you know how and how much of it you’ll let impact your life. There have always been “bad” people out there, does this information change who your aunt and uncle are to you? Your relationship with them?

    For me? It was a multi step process that I still have to work on to this day.

    My first step was forgiving my mother. Because I blamed her for not “protecting” me. I didn’t do this until my late 20’s. I spent a long time refusing to have anything to do with her before I had the epiphany that it wasn’t her fault. I’ve spent much more of my life hating myself.

    End of the day though, it’s up to you how you let this information affect you and your relationship with various people.

    I had to learn to forgive, not just myself. Your learning curve may be a bit different, but it’s up to you how you want it to map out.

    • Sharn, thank you so much for sharing. I’m so sorry to hear that you had that in your life. The questions you ask are great ones..I do need to think about what to do with this information. My Dad’s family is already so fractured (and this helps explain why)…but I wonder whether there is any healing for them. I’m sure it’s never been discussed, never been addressed. I am on the periphery of this but it’s still something I have to work through.

      Very wise words, my friend. Sorry you have to be wise through experience, on this one.

      • We all have broken bits in our lives. This is just but one of mine. Thank you 🙂

        And I hope you still find the answers to how to go about your own way to process.

  3. My grandfather sexually abused his eldest son and myself. This left me open to being abused by someone not that much older than me in the neighborhood where I grew up. Here is the kicker: My uncle who was also abused had more than one degree and spoke more than two languages. He was an MD in addition to being a psychotherapist amongst other things. His brother, who as far as I know was not molested, has a degree in psychology I think. As does my step father’s ex wife, who has always been on good terms with everyone and who comes to Christmas and all other holiday events every year. I am 39. No one ever ‘told’ my grandmother. Until I turned 20 or 21. And I told her. Not about me, but about her son. The last incident with me being abused occurred at 13. Both my Uncles were present in the room alongside my mother when I spoke about this. Both already had psychology degrees at the time and my mother has two degrees in Early Childhood Education and English. NOONE EVER SAID Do you need to see a counselor about this? While it MAY have been said, I DONT REMEMBER HEARING IT. I remember being asked if I needed counseling about my parents divorce, about my mother’s violent temper and physical abuse of me, about my father being arrested and having his face plastered all over NBC< CBS and ABC when I was in the first grade. I don't remember anyone asking if I needed help for sexual abuse issues. Shock it seems, runs in families no matter how well educated anyone is, no one is ready to hear the truth. Ever.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through. It’s extraordinarily difficult and you are so right that education has no impact. I think people just have such a hard time dealing with it, especially when the source is in the family.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m trying to sort out whether to broach the subject with my father. I don’t know what answers I expect, if any. I knew his family was damaged but this takes it to a whole new level.

      • Its difficult to understand how it is that people remain silent. My grandfather and grandmother were both raving alcoholics and physically abusive with each other and their children. He had two engineering degrees and while he was in college they gave two daughters up for adoption. Wheen their two sons were around 7 and 9 or 10 they were sent to live with my grandfathers family at the other end of the state. have always wondered if she knew and agreed to it for their protection.

  4. I read this the other day, but I was on my phone and at a loss for words.

    I don’t have any history of abuse in my family, but my first wife was sexually abused as was her daughter. Our entire family ended up going to therapy because of it, but I don’t think it’s something that ever goes away, no matter how much you try. Counseling and therapy help you deal with the emotions and sorting out the past, but you won’t ever be rid of what happened.

    Other than that, I don’t think I have anything useful to add.

  5. I shared my story with you off-blog, and won’t share it here due to the implications, (and just so everyone know, I never suffered such abuses, that story was just close to my family) however I hear such things quite a bit. People open up to me after a while, and I think more people have unfortunately experienced sexual abuse as children than most people realize. I understand the shame of it, but it’s very important to talk about it. People wrestle with it, and it affects a person their whole life, and while I hate hearing things like that, I happily listen to anyone who wishes to discuss their experiences, as listening is sometimes the most one can do, and it really does help.

  6. I just found out recently that a friend of mine was regularly sexually abused by a family friend when she was a child, from around ages 8-10. It still makes me want to strangle someone. I’m not a violent person, I don’t believe it solves anything, but my vision goes red at the thought. I am fortunate, I guess, in that I don’t know the person who did it, and I don’t really have to face the fact that he’s a human being as well. It disturbs me that he’s still out there, that she’s never told anyone about this, and he could prey on someone else. I’ve expressed that concern to her, but in the end, I can’t force her to face all of it again on the very slim possibility that he’ll face justice or get help or whatever needs to happen.

    It’s all very frustrating. As stupid as it is to think this, I wish it had happened to me instead, because then I could do something about it.

    I don’t really have any advice on processing it. It still blows my mind that someone can have everything taken away from them so young and still come out so strong. I guess I just needed to vent, so thank you for giving me an outlet.

    • Thank you for your comment; I’m glad I could give you an outlet. It’s striking to me that there are so many stories of either direct, or indirect, experience with this kind of abuse. Staggering.

  7. Ugh, my comment on my site was insensitive, I apologize for that. About having to click and read. That was shite of me. This is an awful sort of information to have to take in about your family, I am so sorry. I hope that your Aunt has been able to find some measure of peace in her life.

  8. This is a hard thing to process and human history is rife with many examples of incest/inbreeding taking place and for reasons like royalty preserving their bloodline or peoples isolated from society where there’s little or no chance of “fresh” genes that could be introduced, like we hear about folks living in the mountains and other stuff like that.

    Despite the revulsion to this, an intelligent approach is called for more than an emotional response and the fact that none of us wants to deal with is simply this: It happens and it’s been happening probably since humans started having sex. Indeed, one of my favorite ways to upset the uber-religious is to ask them about Adam and Eve, i.e., if there was Adam, then Eve, then Cain and Able, where did the rest of the people come from? The book of Genesis is kinda fuzzy about this but one can easily assume that unless more men and women were created by God – and someone forgot to write it down – um, well, you figure it out.

    It makes the uber-religious very unhappy with me and some have come up with answers like the mysterious Lilith which I’ve never seen any references to in religious text and if she was real, uh, where did she come from. It’s even been said that if Eve is the mother of us all, then any sexual interactions that came after that could be called incest.

    The bullshit aside, yeah, it happens and it can be damaging to people – betrayal of trust, the stealing of innocence, stuff like that and despite the laws against such behavior, there is nothing anyone can do about it except deal with the aftermath. We can teach the taboo to our children and strongly emphasize to never, ever, go there and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; no young person can control what a grownup might do in this other than to report it and let the law handle it but in a lot of stuff I’ve read, this can happen and the person is so traumatized that it doesn’t get reported or that it happens and the victim isn’t believed (and even punished for lying).

    And I’ve even talked to “victims” of incest who, by their account, never saw themselves as being a victim, just like I knew a few folks who went out of their way to be a victim and on purpose because we can never, ever underestimate what the desire for sex can do to anyone.

    Never. Ann, I know this is a rough one to deal with but I just think that one has to accept that it is what it is and trying to rationalize it will make you seek some therapy and even if none of this has ever happened to you. It’s just one of those facts of life we’d rather forget exists…

    • Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I think you are right…I’ve had to accept it has happened and I feel sorry for my family members that still struggle with it. It helps explain so much of the dysfunction in my father’s family – so from that perspective, I’m glad I have those answers.

      • I’ll be honest with you: Even I know of incidents of incest in the past generations of my own family; I’d hear the grownups talking about it and of course it was always seen as such an evil thing… but they accepted that it happened. Being the curious kid I was, I always wondered why some family members would do something they weren’t supposed to do but as I really started to learn about sex – and the things people will do to have it – well, it just made sense in that while laws against it have been around a long time, you just cannot do a damned thing about human nature.

        So you shrug, mutter “Damn…” to yourself and try to make sense of it if you can and then consider yourself lucky that you never had to experience this “dark” side of being human.

  9. I just want to say thanks for helping, even though you don’t know it. As a survivor of brief incest, I look at this blog as a hope. I hope I can have great sex someday again. I read your stories and hope that can be someday soon. I can share my story, but it’s a downer. I really enjoy the good stories you post.

    • I am so glad I can help you and I am sorry to hear you had that experience. I never did, although it was in my family. My issues with sex in my relationship stemmed from other things.

      I wish you all the best in your healing journey.

  10. I was thinking about the post I said I’d write, about letting go and such. And I don’t know why but I came back to this post. And I realise they’re related.
    I didn’t suffer sexual abuse from a family member, but I suffered physical abuse. It’s a different kind of messed up. But eventually, for that one too, you just have to accept it happened and let it go. I have a million things to do still today, but I’ll try to get onto writing that post of mine tonight.
    XO

  11. Sexual abuse and especially sexual abuse when dealing with incest is so difficult to talk about. For example, it is pretty much a known fact in my family that our father molested our youngest sister between the ages of 11 and 14. I’ve mentioned it to my other siblings, and even have mentioned it to my sister who was the victim. But, none of them want to talk about or even admit something happened, even though none of them deny it. I think they are all too afraid to ruin the family and the family name. Once, I asked my sister if she had any problems with what happened with dad. She played dumb. So I said, “you know, those Saturday afternoons with dad, when mom went to the store.” She just turned away. Then, I told her to just remember that everything that ever happened was 100% dad’s fault. She was upset I brought it up, saying it was none of my business. I felt bad I made her think about it. But, she never denied it! The thing is, if everyone is okay now, and our father is not doing anything anymore to her, or any other person, I guess we just accept it as a thing that happened in the past. It is done, we moved on. So I guess I don’t really know if there is much you can do about your family either. It is such a tough thing to talk about. Hope this helps if you ever still think about what happened.

What do you think?