Hidden from relatives, communities, schools, and neighbors, incest is underreported, underrecognized, and often goes unpunished, leaving child victims to suffer in silence and adult survivors to manifest myriad psychosocial problems (Daie, Witztum, & Eleff, 1989).
There was a time well into my middle age and decades after I had been teaching children in public and private schools when I had never heard of the term “sibling incest” and, quite frankly, never even imagined such incidents. I never dreamed that there were Duggars next door, and most of my naïve friends still have no concept of the depth and breadth and prevalence of the Duggars next door – genuinely hardworking families that bear horrendous secrets, normally to their graves.
When my husband and I, both with doctorates and very well read, launched a new life by bringing into our home a family of children to adopt, we took every required course, completed every assignment, and asked every question we could think of, except, “What do we do when our new little children are attempting to make sexual contact with each other?”
We did not ask the question because we did not comprehend the possibility of such a crisis. Yes, it is a crisis when you must hire at least two babysitters anytime you have a meeting, in order to separate sexually-active children, ages seven, from each other. Yes, it is a crisis when you must watch three children closely, carefully, without lapses 24 hours each day.
Tragically, sibling incest could well be next door to you right now, and the young victims are living in trauma, despite the fervent Duggar denials in their media broadcasts. All childhood sexual contacts are traumatic in the sense that children lose control over their bodies, their personal space, their privacy, and their dignity. Loss of control is traumatic, especially when a beloved family member rules your body with his or her whims and desires, inflicted upon you in an unguarded moment. Incest victims must always be on guard, especially in their own homes.
Children who resist are commonly mocked, ridiculed, physically forced into sexual acts, pinned down, rejected, ostracized, threatened, intimidated, harassed, and silenced into painful submission. If the goal of childhood is independence; then the infliction of sex upon a child is to end childhood, which, indeed, it does.
What about all the child victims who plead for help from their suffering siblings looking on or from adults in positions of authority and power? The answer to this question is appalling. Children plead for help and frequently get none, even from officials designated to protect them, especially when the officials believe childhood sex to be “natural.”
Children who plead for help and receive none are scarred deeply and irreparably. They have been violated by their sibling predators and then abandoned by their trusted adults. These attacks upon human trust are devastating to the normal development of children.
A true-life example bares the cruelty of sibling incest left unaddressed and still haunts me today. In one of my cases in which I advocated for several victims of a teenage predator, a young girl was repeatedly abused through multiple types of sexual acts by her much-older and larger brother, who also set fire to her doll. The mother, upon learning of the abuse, decided to confide the secret sex to her fellow social worker, and they made a pact together to conceal the sexual abuse, which had extended to other young children in the community as well.
Weeks later, the victims were finally blessed to have hospital staff report the abuse, causing the teenage predator to be arrested, convicted, and put out of contact with his victims, temporarily. Months thereafter, he was brought, at over six feet tall, by his mother to a youth soccer game at the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center, watching his little victims playing nearby.
Years later, the teenage predator, who was reunified with his sibling victim again living in the same house, posted his deeply-troubled writings on the Internet accompanied by a close-up photo of his friend brandishing an assault rifle:
… you cannot see what I see
that is inside of me.
The monster in me
so lonely ….
no one can see
except maybe me …
the hideous thing
inside of me …
the blackness that surrounds
the hideous soul
damned for Eternity ….
The voices in my head
they’re so crazy and angry
they fill me with dread
I catch myself wishing me dead
the madness is rising
I’m always despising ….
Today, 10 years later, the Internet postings of this predator are filled with lewd photographs of females and song lyrics and videos depicting bloody scenes and embracing extreme violence, including beheadings.
Recently, one of his victims, now a teenager herself, posted an inappropriate photograph of herself in a frame labeled “Spank me.” She also posted an electronic communiqué with a friend discussing an upcoming fashion show that she worried might lead to sexual slavery. Get the picture?
Another victim, now a teenage male, is posted with his real name on the Internet walking in a hot pink mini-skirt, bare midriff, and fur boots with the caption below, “the prostitute.” Other Internet photographs show him wearing a woman’s leopard lounging outfit dressed like “dancing boys,” who are used to entertain men at affluent parties.
It is your responsibility, if you are living or working in the vicinity of childhood sexuality, to protect the victims with tireless abuse reports or other measures to safeguard the victims; for they know not how to protect themselves, and their own parents may protect the predators instead of the victims.
Protect. Protect. Protect. We cannot accept results like the real-life, real-time consequences I have personally witnessed when sibling incest was left unchecked and community leaders concealed known crimes against children for the sake of preserving false images to the public.
Neither Christians nor Jews can abandon our children in their times of crisis and trauma. It is our sacred duty and trust to keep them safe from predation always, always, always….