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

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

22
Brothers-in-Law, First Cousins, and Other More Distant Relatives

Sexual activity between cousins is illegal in some states in this country, while in others it is legal. In many preindustrial societies, marriage between first cousins was not only permitted but preferred. Even where sex between first cousins is illegal, it is generally considered to be by far the least serious form of incest. Consequently, there is no literature on first-cousin incestuous abuse.

Nor is there any literature on sexual abuse by brothers-in-law. Yet the victims' accounts of this form of incestuous abuse make it obvious that they were often quite traumatic.* In addition, it was clear in some cases that the relatedness contributed to the trauma experienced.


Brothers-in-Law

Out of the twenty-two incest perpetrators who were classified as "other male relatives," seven were brothers-in-law. This number is too small for meaningful quantitative analysis. However, the case material helps to convey why this form of incestuous abuse can be so distressing.

____________________
*
The experiences of the one respondent, Dorothy, who was very seriously sexually abused by three different brothers-in-law, were cited in chapter 12 along with her many other experiences of sexual abuse.

-343-

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