The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women

By Diana E. H. Russell | Go to book overview

16
Father-Daughter Incest: The Supreme Betrayal
Both clinical and popular opinion believe father-daughter incest to be the most traumatic form of incestuous abuse. This opinion is strongly confirmed by our probability sample. Over half (54 percent) of the victims of fathers reported being extremely upset by the sexual abuse compared with a quarter (25 percent) of the victims of all the other incest perpetrators combined (significant at < 0.01 level). And over twice as many of the abused daughters reported great long-term effects as a result of the incest -44 percent compared with 19 percent of the other victims (significant at < 0.001 level).* (See tables A-1 and A-2 in the appendix.)Some of the factors that may have contributed to the greater trauma reported by the daughters--aside from the special significance of the father-daughter relationship--include the following:
1. Fathers were more likely to have imposed vaginal intercourse on their daughters than the other incest perpetrators--18 percent versus 6 percent (significant at < 0.05 level).
2. Fathers sexually abused their daughters more frequently than other incestu-
____________________
*
The tabular sources of information for this chapter can be found in chapter 15 and in the appendix. Then tables compare all the major types of incest perpetrators investigated by our survey. The significance levels reported for these tables refer to the entire tables; they don't necessarily inform us about which of the within-table differences are statistically significant. However, when comparisons are made between incestuous abuse by fathers and incestuous abuse by all other incest perpetrators combined, additional computer runs were conducted using this simplified dichotomization of the incest perpetrator variable. This made it possible to explore the ways in which sexual abuse by fathers was significantly different from sexual abuse by all other abusive relatives combined.

The reader may observe that the figures in the total columns for all incest perpetrators in chapter 15 and the appendix sometimes differ from those reported in this and the following chapters for "all other incest "perpetrators." This is because the latter figures do not include the perpetrators--for example, fathers--with which all other perpetrators are being compared.

When all perpetrators are included--as in the tables in chapter 15 and the appendix--the totals are often referred to as revealing "the norm" for all incest perpetrators for the variable under discussion. Careful reading is necessary to be clear on exactly which comparison is being used.

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