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Updated on July 19, 2015

Basic facts and ways to find help

What is incest? The American Century Dictionary defines the word this way: "Sexual intercourse between persons too closely related to marry legally." Often it is the children who are the victims of incest by a male family member. Child sexual abuse effects more Americans than cancer, AIDS, and gun violence. In the media incest between family members is rarely discussed. Child sexual abuse by teachers, strangers and members of the clergy is discussed much more in the media than incest in families. Incest in families is much more common than sexual abuse outside the home.

One in three-to-four girls and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused by family members. These are the reported cases. Many cases are never reported to the police or human services. Children are dependent on their parents and afraid to say something to cause family distress. Mothers and other members of the family can be financially dependent upon the male family member who abuses the child, so they may be reluctant to report the abuse to the police or human services. It often means the family will be split up because of the abuse is reported to authorities.

Ninety-five percent of teen prostitutes and one third of female prisoners experienced sexual abuse during childhood. They are twice as likely to be jailed for violent offense in adulthood, have twice the risk of mental health problems and are twice as likely to commit suicide as other children. Incest also is connected with drug and alcohol addictions and eating disorders.

Members of the clergy, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, child care workers and social workers are mandated by law in many states and some countries to report cases of incest in families. This is also true of other forms of domestic violence. Forcing you to have sex in considered to be form of domestic violence according to a brochure called Domestic Violence Information published by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Members of the clergy, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, child care workers and social workers should have referral phone numbers and names of organizations who can help you if you are a victim of incest.

What help is available to victims of incest and others forms of domestic violence? Crisis counseling, safety planning, assistance in finding shelter and referrals to other organizations such as Legal Services Support groups and advocacy organizations who work with the police. The Safe Home (SAH) Program works with domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking issues in Minnesota. Contact the Minnesota Secretary of State at 651-201-1399 or 866-723-3035 for more information on this program. Various states have similar organizations which focus on these concerns. Goggle incest, sexual assault, domestic or stalking for your state's organization. Some other countries have these organizations, also.

Various public assistance programs have waivers for victims of domestic violence which means program requirements may be waived according to your situation. Contact human services in your state to find out about these waivers and what steps you need to take to apply for a waiver. You can also ask for information on how to get help for your particular needs and situation. You can call 211 for United Way First Call for Help to receive referral numbers to social and human service organizations who can help you. This is available in the United States.

Other countries are working on these issues. Guyana has the Bal Navis Center which works with the Department of Human Services. This is a shelter and training program for abused children and their mothers. Goggle the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Saba for more information on their programs. Several Hindu priests and pandits in Guyana and the United States are working on domestic violence issues. Contact your local priest or pandit for referrals to appropriate services. In India and some other countries you may contact women's organizations and your local pandit, priest or swami for information on referrals for appropriate services. Counselors at elementary schools, high schools and colleges can refer you to appropriate services. Some female teachers, swamis and priests provide counseling and services. The individual will tell you in privacy if they do other these services or can refer you to other appropriate organizations who do provide these services.

Incest, a form of domestic violence, has been with us a very long time. You do not need to suffer in silence. There is help and you can improve your life. Reach out and someone will help you.



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    • radhapriestess profile image

      radhapriestess 2 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks for reading lyoness913 and Oztinato. I think because it happens in families at home it is much more hidden away from public awareness.

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Summer LeBlanc 2 years ago from H-Town

      Voted up- such an important topic- and you're right- people shouldn't suffer in silence. It takes courage to speak up, but I think that there is strength in numbers.