Childhood Sexual Abuse: Generational Incest

Every week, as I prepare for these posts, I pray daily for guidance. I ask the Lord where I’m to go next, and He always shows me. Sometimes I go willingly. Today is not one of those days.  This time, I’m kicking and screaming because I DON’T want to study this; I don’t want to know any more than I already do; I don’t want to deal with it.

You will notice there are no illustrations this week.  No way in the world was I going to go looking for that.

But I have to write about it.  I know this is where He’s leading me this week. There are too many reasons to list here. It is enough to say that I have no doubt in my mind or my heart that I’m supposed to write about generational incest this week.  All I can do is pray that someone out there needs to read this; that doing so will help someone begin the painful process of healing and recovery; that the chain of incest will be broken by even one single person who says, “No more! It ends here!”

Incest is the practice of have sexual relations within one’s own family, with people that are related by blood  or by marriage.  It’s an ugly word.  We try to avoid it; we don’t think we know anyone that practices such evil, or who has been touched by it.

That’s one of the reasons it continues to exist.  It’s the elephant in the bedroom.  No one talks about it.  It stinks, and it takes up all the space. Doesn’t matter. It’s invisible, because most of the time we just simply don’t know what to do about it, so we do nothing. The suffering continues; the warped ideas about sex and sexuality continue; the evil continues.

When the Bible talks about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the third and fourth generation, it is not speaking of judgment or retribution for those sins.  It is speaking of the tendency for that sin to show up in succeeding generations (Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 24:16). Each generation holds the power to stop the chain, if only they will.

The Bible is very clear about incest. Don’t. Here’s a good place for you to start looking if you have any doubts about this: http://carm.org/incest

Why does one generation that has been corrupted by incest then go on to corrupt the next generation?

Did you see the word corrupt?

Why does someone who has been bullied often turn around to bully someone else? Why does someone who has been verbally and emotionally abused for years turn around and find someone else to verbally and emotionally abuse?

We are sinners. It’s in our nature.  We may not be able to get revenge on the person who hurt us, but we can make someone else hurt the way we did, and so we do.  There’s no logic to it. For most of us, it’s a thoughtless behavior done in anger and hurt. One victim begets another.

Incest abuse survivors are so hurt, so full of distrust, and have such a warped view of themselves that it takes intensive and often long-term therapy to begin to identify the lies they believe, and that result in harmful behaviors like cutting, alcohol and drug abuse, and promiscuity.  The abuser lied to the victim, and used his lies to control the victim. When the victim hears these lies over and over from someone who is an authority in her life, she easily begins to believe them.

Here are three things to think about:

  1. The abuser uses lies to control his victim(s).The victims take the lies as truths… and  they build core beliefs about themselves and their world based on these lies and manipulations.
  2. The victim’s thoughts,  transformed by the abuse, are often warped out of context from the normal healthy world. Usually, these lies and deceptions  are carried forward into adulthood and affect relationships, sexuality, self-confidence, and quality of life.
  3. Thoughts that are unaltered by the abuse,  that are naturally occurring but haven’t been affected by the abuse, also develop into truths and can be carried into adulthood. These thought often affect authority figures in the lives of incest survivors; they also color the way a victim thinks of God and all things religious.  Often, the abuser has used the Bible to convince the victim to submit to the abuse.

It takes time and a knowledgeable, competent therapist who is experienced in this field to unbraid all the tangled thinking and emotions that result from incestuous abuse. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply this behavior changes people, and how lasting is the damage.

Early in my career as a counselor, I worked with a family in which the oldest boy, a fairly young teen, had been caught molesting his next younger sister.  There were many children, I don’t remember exactly, but at least nine or ten. As I worked with the oldest boy, I learned he had been introduced to porn at age 11 by his grandfather. Later, we learned that the grandfather had molested his own son, and the behavior was instilled in several uncles and cousins. It was a family-wide epidemic.  Before this family left my practice, four of the boys were in either Juvenile Detention or foster homes where there were no girls; the parents were in the process of divorce, and one of the uncles finally had the courage to press charges against the grandfather, whom I had never met.

I’m just about certain he had been molested as well, in his childhood, by his father, or uncle, or grandfather.

I’m pleading with you now. If you suspect, or know that such a thing exists in your own family or in the family of someone you know. please confront it; tell someone who can help you; get OUT of there as fast as you can.  Go to the police; go to Children and Youth Protective Services or whatever your state calls that agency; do something so that this evil of incest is stopped before it infects another generation.

Please.

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