Rape and Incest
It is clear from research findings that rape and incest share many similarities but also have some differences as well. The differences are found in threeareas: the duration and progression of sexual activity over time; coercion;and consent. Most incest involves multiple acts of sexual violation over time, ranging from several months to many years. The usual pattern is for the sexual activity to escalate. In addition, most incestuous relationships begin not as the result of physical force and violence but rather under the guise ofaffection or education. Frequently, the perpetrator offers the victim the opportunity to be involved in a special relationship with a known and valued adult. Usually the coercion is subtle, especially at first. However, it may intensify over the course of the incestuous relationship. Threats, lies, and manipulation are often used to ensure secrecy and continued involvement.
While neither women who are raped nor incest victims willingly give consent,the child’s experience differs because of the adult’s authority and importance in his or her life. The perpetrator gains access to the child by betrayingthe child’s special trust and by exploiting the child’s powerlessness. Thus,incest can be viewed as a form of rape (sexual penetration through the use offorce with lack of consent on the part of the victim) within the family, with the added potential for psychological damage to the victim due to the relationship between the child and the adult.