Who Are the Perpetrators?
One of the major purposes of this book is to extend our understanding of incestuous abuse to include perpetrators who are brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, and female relatives--as well as fathers. Part 4 is dedicated to this end. Our analysis in these chapters will draw heavily on the victims' own descriptions of their experiences (except for this introductory chapter) and on the quantitative data. We will begin by looking at the frequencies of incestuous abuse by different relatives.
Some authors believe that father-daughter incest is the most frequent type of incestuous abuse. Others consider brother-sister abuse to be the most common, despite the fact that it rarely comes to the attention of clinicians and law enforcement agencies. Given the absence of any sound basis for knowing the answer to this question, this disagreement is hardly surprising.
In our probability sample survey, neither fathers nor brothers were the most common perpetrators; uncles were. But only just. As can be seen in table 15-1, the forty-eight uncles constitute 25 percent of the total number of incest perpetrators--just 1 percent more than the fathers.*
Thirty-eight percent of these incest perpetrators were members of the nuclear family, that is, they were parents or siblings (including stepparents and half siblings).
In order to ascertain the prevalence rates for incestuous abuse by dif ferent relatives, we need to shift our focus from the number of perpetra-____________________