Incest is defined as any sexual activity engaged in by a parent, a guardian, a caretaker or anyone who is in a position of trust to the child.


Dynamics of incest:

For an adult to successfully engage a child in an incestuous relationship, several key elements must be present:

The adult must have a legitimate power position over the child.

There must also be access to the child and an opportunity for the abuse to occur.

Bribes, threats, or some other form of inducement lures the child into sexual interaction with the adult.

If the abuse is long-term, there will be a progression of sexually abusive behaviors.

Secrecy is enhanced or assured through the use of rewards or bribes.

In some cases, threats of anger, separation, self-harm, harm to others, or harming of the child are used to ensure secrecy. These techniques are often very successful. Some victims don't disclose their abuse until they are adults. Others never do.


Effects of incest on a child:

Incest interferes with normal development. There is a blurring of role boundaries, as these children are robbed of their right to be children and are forced to become pseudo-adults. In addition to acting as a sexual partner to an adult, most are burdened with heavy age-inappropriate tasks.


Common issues related to the victims of incest

The shame and guilt felt by victims leads to a poor self-image.

Most victims develop poor social skills.

It is not uncommon for incest survivors to feel "different" from "ordinary" people, to express self-hatred and to become depressed and anxious. 

Some victims may become self-destructive and/or suicidal. Some may also become isolationists due to a strongly felt inability to trust others.

Physical effects may include: feelings of dissociation, migraine headaches, severe backaches, gastrointestinal and genitourinary problems, inability to concentrate, sexual dysfunction, lethargy, phobic behaviors, eating disorders and substance abuse, and/or risky sexual activities or behaviors.


RDVIC offers incest survivor support groups, for dates and times contact RDVIC at

(304) 292-5100.

Child Abuse

Myths and Facts

Child Sexual Abuse

Possible Signs


Become a Volunteer


Contact Us

Domestic Violence

Sexual Violence

Child Abuse



Volunteer at RDVIC

Upcoming Events

Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center, RDVIC logo

Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center

RDVIC 24-hour crisis hotline (304) 292-5100