Incest is defined as sexual relations between people in the same family. The person reporting this problem will most likely be a young female who reports sexual contact (not always intercourse) with her father or another male in her family. Young boys may also be victims of incest.
A news telecast called incest the “hidden shame,” and the “least reported devastating crime in America.” It is feared that from 100,000 to 1,000,000 youngsters are sexually abused by a family member each year.
Incest is very destructive to a child, and often the damage cannot be undone. A U.S. district judge recently observed: “Abused children have suffered unspeakable injuries to body and soul.” Because of shame, fright, or a feeling that they have done something terribly wrong or that they are being punished, the victims of incest rarely report their involvement. Being trapped in such a situation leads to confusion and a “learned helplessness.”
Sexually abused children have a low self-image, are depressed, and often harbor thoughts of self-destruction. Many run away from home and frequently get involved in drugs, alcohol, and further deviant sexual behavior such as prostitution and homosexuality. Unable to concentrate on learning, they may do poorly in school. Chances of a successful adulthood are poor, because many do not recover from the effects of the relationship and many commit suicide.
There is little hope of freeing the victim of incest from her (or his) helpless situation unless the offender is stopped. The person guilty of incest is unlikely to change unless faced with the legal implications of the crime. Once the situation is called to the attention of the courts, authorities will intervene, removing the victim from her surroundings. Eventually, both the parents and the victim will need counseling, both separately and together, if any solutions are to be found. Hopefully such services exist in the victim’s community.
Often the victim will be intimidated by family members not to press charges or testify against the offender because of the shame if the “family secret” becomes known. In such situations, the pastor may be the only one able to intervene.
1. Victims of incest demand a special sympathy and tenderness. Try to project all the love you can.
2. Assure the inquirer that she (or he) has done the right thing in sharing the problem, and that we want to help.
3. Assure her that, though there may be feelings of defilement, she is not bad or vile. She has been forced or tricked into something degrading, and may feel confused, but that does not imply any kind of mental imbalance. What has happened is very wrong, but the victim is not responsible for it. Though abused, she no longer needs to feel intimidated or filled with feelings of helplessness, self-pity, and self-doubt. We want to help solve the terrible problem.
4. Assure the caller of God’s love. To God, she is special and just as worthy as anyone. God loved her so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for her sins. Explain the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
5. Suggest reading the Bible and Your New Life In Christ Bible Study
6. Strongly recommend immediately contacting a pastor, in order to relate what has been happening. Also recommend reporting the incident to the school or guidance counselor. This will be difficult and embarrassing, but it must be done.
7. Pray with the inquirer, committing the problem to the Lord. After praying, reassure her of your concern and prayers.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3–4, NIV).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7, NIV).
“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you” (1 Peter 5:7, TLB).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996