Incest, a taboo phenomenon of unknown magnitude

    Incest, a taboo phenomenon of unknown magnitude

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    Massive, devastating and still very often taboo. Such is incest even today in our society. Massive? Although still too rare, studies on the subject show that between 5% and 10% of French people have been victims of sexual violence during their childhood, which takes place, in 80% of cases, within the family sphere. In an Ipsos poll carried out in November 2020 for the association Face à inceste, one in ten French people claim to have been a victim.

    Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Olivier Duhamel, incest and the children of silence

    Boys and especially girls from all social backgrounds are concerned. The first assault occurs, on average, at the age of 9 years. In the vast majority of cases, the perpetrators are men, which is confirmed by a note from the National Observatory on Delinquency and Criminal Responses published in December 2020, which is based on figures from the police services and units. of gendarmerie. Out of 6,737 people accused of incestuous sexual violence between 2016 and 2018, 95% are male. Among the 4,341 victims of incestuous sexual violence (including 77% of girls) recorded during these three years, half were under 4 years old, the study also indicates.

    Isabelle Aubry, founding president of the association Face à inceste, has other words to describe the prevalence of this scourge: “One in three French people knows a victim of incest”, assures the activist. The formula has the advantage of showing the scale of the phenomenon, which impacts society as a whole, beyond the mere victims who appear in official statistics.

    Considerable damage

    This brings us to the devastating dimension of incest. For Catherine Milard, director of the SOS Inceste & Sexual Violence association, which supports victims, incest is similar to “A total destruction of the individual, of the psychic and bodily identity of the child”. One of its peculiarities lies in the difficulty for the child who undergoes it to grasp its gravity. The terrible conflict of loyalty that it causes, linked to the close relationship between the aggressor and the victim, has strong repercussions on its construction. All aggravated, very often, by the repetition of the facts.

    In women, incest leads to an increased risk that they will relive, as adults, situations of harassment or sexual violence

    The damage caused is considerable. Frequently there is a cascade of deleterious effects on the development of the victim, who is more vulnerable to a wide range of health problems (depression, risk of suicide, eating disorders, addictive behavior, etc.). Often, victims of incest have great difficulty in building a professional and family life. All the more so, and this is one of the major lessons of the Virage survey conducted by the National Institute for Demographic Studies in 2015, that, among women, exposure to sexual violence in childhood leads to an increased risk that they will relive, in adulthood, situations of harassment or sexual violence.

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