Whether the behavior changes are sudden or gradual they must addressed and understood.  These changes include a wide range of conduct including:

-Aggressive/boisterous behavior- hitting, pushing, yelling at others, throwing tantrums…any of these can be the result of holding in the confusion, fear and anger caused by incest and releasing it on others around them.

-Isolation-wanting to be alone,  uneasiness/anxiety around others, hiding behind a loved one, hiding in closets and other small areas, running away,

-Sleep problems-fear of bedtime, anxiety about being alone in a room, nightmares(especially of being chased or seeking a place to hide), bed wetting

-Site Anxiety/Fear/Avoidance-fear of a particular place or room in home…often bedroom, bathroom, attic, basement or cellar, garage, shed or other area where the incestor has more privacy and less chance of being discovered

-Extended Sadness/Depression-especially if child is unable to explain why they feel the way they do,  the “secret” of incest is too heavy to bear

-Religious zealousness-person absorbs themself in religion to the point of obsession

-Unusual bathroom habits-refusal to defecate(may sit on floor in bathroom to hold bowel movements in), hiding behind fixtures, soiling themself with feces

-Avoidance of individual/certain activity-if a person shows anxiety or fear about seeing someone or about going anywhere alone with that person, making excuses to stay away or pretending to be ill

-Early age masturbation-especially compulsive behavior or masturbating publicly

-Play Behavior with sexual overtones-holding dolls in sexual positions, speaking for dolls using phrases or words that are not age appropriate

-Low self-esteem-feelings of worthlessness,  saying they are a “bad” person, but not being able to say why

-Inability to swallow pills-if a person is unable to take a pill orally when it is common behavior at their age, it may be a resistance to oral activity tied in with the fear of forced oral behavior during incest

-TMJ-initials for trans-mandibular jaw disease-very painful condition where jaw moves into unnatural positions or unlocks…this may begin as a reult of the mouth being forced open

-Cruelty to animals or insects

-Self-Injury-tearing skin, picking or biting nails, pulling hair/eyelashes/eyebrows out, cutting skin, burning skin

-Suicidal talk/thoughts/behavior

-Desire to change name-indicates an inner compulsion to rid oneself of the name that has been tarnished by incest and the pain associated with it

-Body memories-even if the mind has repressed/blocked the memory of incest…the body does remember and discomfort, unexpected urges and body aches can be signs of what happened

-Eating disorders- anorexia, bulemia, overeating to cover the pain, becoming obese to make oneself less sexually desirable…all these can be caused by incest

-Alcohol/drug abuse-often used as a way to escape trauma of any type

-Obssessive Compulsive Disorder-(OCD)-the need to obssessively clean oneself or ones surroundings, to repeat checking locks, making sure the stove and iron are off etc. can all stem from incest and the need to have control over things when we have experienced “being totally controlled” against our will

-Sexual addiction/sexual frigidity-going to either extreme can mean that incest has damaged our self image

-Wearing loose, baggy clothing-attempting to hide/protect ourselves from sexual advances

-Fear of abandonment-accentuated because  incest perpetrators frequently use  threats that family will be destroyed if the victim tells anyone of the incest

-Inability to trust-often difficult to ascertain, but trust is destroyed by incest

Please write me with any comments, questions or suggestions you may have.  I’m very open to hearing your thoughts and your experiences!

I keep thinking of how important it is that childhood incest be detected and stopped without delay.  There are so many incest survivor’s desperately trying to recover from its devastating effects and it might have been prevented or stopped short if people were more aware of the signs that accompany it.  In a prior post, I related symptoms of incest which I hope were helpful. In the following posts,  I want to share the additional information I have gained since that writing and the considerable insight I have received from formerly repressed memories.

Please know that these “possible” symptoms vary considerably in the degree to which they point to incest.  There are many other childhood problems, growth stages and simple personality differences that account for these behaviors as well.   The more of these signs that you see in your child, the more likely incest is occurring.  I pray that this information enables you to break through all obstacles to find the truth and if the truth is “incest”, to stop it immediately.   Protect your child from any further pain in the present and know the aftereffects of incest as they will likely need your help with in the future.

I will begin my next post immediately!

As I look back over my life, I am finally realizing the extent to which incest has destroyed my ability to trust.  When I was younger, I would speak of trusting most of my family and a few friends.  I had not begun to retrieve the repressed memories of everything that had occurred in my childhood and I didn’t think much about what trust really meant.

My actions, though, spoke for me and without my even realizing it, demonstrated outwardly how little I trusted others.  I have always been a very introverted person.  During my childhood, up to age 11, I was painfully shy and spent the majority of my time reading and playing by myself.   I pushed myself in junior high and high school to open up more, make friends and get involved in group activities.   I was mildly successful, but it never felt easy or comfortable for me.  I began to depend on alcohol or drugs to “change” me into that fun and outgoing person and by college,  I was using them almost constantly to make me into this other person I wanted to be.   I could say I had many friends, but I was just as insecure and afraid as ever on the inside.  It was all an act and I knew it.

It’s never really stopped being that way for me.  I was able to do well in college because of a high intellect and a lot of last minute cramming for tests.  I had a successful early career in advertising and went on to become a teacher.  Both of these careers required me to put myself “out there” and I made presentations to clients, taught in large classrooms and showed that I could be a good communicator.  I held positions of authority in a number of organizations and devoted my free time to animal welfare, athletic challenges and a great variety of hobbies, but being around alot of people never became “easy” and throughout most of my life I’ve continued to need the crutches of alcohol and drugs.   As I have alluded to in other posts, religious obsession has also been a way for me to break out of my fear.  During those periods, I didn’t use alcohol or drugs, God was my “high”.

As my repressed memories have returned, I have seen that my grandfather’s molestation shattered my trust in loved ones,  isolated me from others and kept me in a state of fear and confusion that continues to this day.  I have found complete trust and love only in my many beloved pets.  Although, I do have three people I trust almost completely, the reality is “almost” is not “all”.

This is a huge question and the answer is different for every single person that survive’s.  However, there are some truths that the experts agree are universal.   One is that incest is the most damaging type of sexual abuse.   It  violates on the physical level and it violates the trust the child has in their caretaker.  It ravages the child’s self esteem.  A child needs to know that the adults they trust to protect them, feed and clothe them are there for them no matter what.  When one of these trusted people betrays a child by forcing them to engage in behavior that is hurtful and humiliating and then makes it a secret with horrible consequences, they destroy that trust.  The child is left feeling alone and cut off from those they can no longer confide in.  They lose all their self esteem because they are no longer in control of their body or even their mind.  They try to say no to their abuser, but their words are ignored.   Nothing they say, no cries of pain, no tears, stop the abuse.   They become an object of no importance or value to the incestor except as a vehicle to the achievement of their physical desires.  They lose their childhood, their innocence and any feeling of control.   When the incest finally stops, the child attempts to embark on the rest of their life.  What they don’t realize is that they will now have to deal with Post-Incest Syndrome.  The damage done by incest now starts manifesting itself in a myriad of disturbing behaviors and compulsions as well as physical and mental illness’s.   The “survivor” has made it through the actual experience, but now they will have to survive the aftereffects.


I remember a few years ago when I first realized I had dissociated during my childhood incest.  At this point, the nightmares had been going on for more than 5 years and I had already realized that my grandfather’s incest of me was part of my life since he compelled my grandmother, dad and mom to let him watch her breast feeding me.  The one memory I had never completely blocked or repressed was the time on the living room floor that I described in an earlier post.  I remember lying next to him on the floor and he was fondling my naked breasts.  Then he said words I’ve never forgotten, “someday, you’ll hate me for this”.   I was 13.   What I finally realized a few years ago is that from the beginning I’ve always seen Grandpa and I from the ceiling a distance away.  This floored me!  How could I an intelligent adult, well read etc.  go all these years and never think about the fact that I didn’t remember this from my perspective on the floor next to him?   Instead, I’d always “watched” it happen from above.   All those years and that seemingly obvious fact was never connected for me.     Our brains are very powerful and when they perceive danger that threatens their existance or ability to function they can completely block the memory of it for decades. 

As I’m writing this, I just put another piece of the puzzle into place.   I’ve always had a memory, just a brief snapshot, of another time when I was about 3 years old.  I was lying in my grandmothers’s bed (my grandfather had his own bedroom) and I was ill.  I remember my grandmother hovering over me and someone else was there.   I asked my mother about it, thinking she may have been the other person.   She said there was never a time that I was sick at my grandparents.   What I remembered as I wrote is that I have always looked down at myself on the bed when I thought about this event.   I was already dissociating at 3 years old.   Now I know that this memory was not what I had always thought.  It was not a sick 3 year old being watched over and cared for by her mom and grandmother.  It was a fragment of an incest memory and my grandmother was there.

I’m angry at the moment and I’m going to let the anger have it’s say.   I started thinking about what incest has cost me and I began to shake as my mind was flooded with the realization.  My grandfather’s incest, his selfish, unspeakable, use of my body for his satisfaction has cost me  “ME”.   I’m not the person I would have been if he had acted like a grandfather should.    I have almost no self-esteem.   I learned young to put on a good act, so people think I am a confident, self assured person.   I’ve got a perfectly good body that I’ve only started to get comfortable with in the last months.  I’ve treated it horribly.  I’ve drank too much and taken drugs to try and numb the pain.  I’ve been anorexic,  I’ve burned and cut myself and I’ve attempted suicide.   I have always felt different, like a misfit and that has changed how I interact with others.  I haven’t been able to maintain friendships because trust is so hard for me.   Incest cost me my marriage because when the repressed memories started to emerge,  they made me think I was called to a different life.   I suffer from depression, OCD, ADD, TMJ, PTSD, and Bi-Polar Disorder.   I have horrible nightmares,  go through periods of agoraphobia and am unable to hold a job any longer.   My mind  is constantly trying to handle  flashbacks and repressed memories coming to the surface.

Incest has cost me my chance to live life as a complete and balanced individual with the self esteem to make informed choices.  Incest has cost me pain, anquish and confusion beyond comprehension by anyone other than a fellow victim.  Incest has cost me years and years of time and work trying to unlock the questions of the past.   I have always felt the burden of a mystery in my life that I had to solve.  Incest cost me a lifetime lived under its dark shadow.

When you are very young and being incested,  you use many coping mechanisms.   If you are dissociating and/or repressing the abuse, these mechanisms are not connected to their real root cause until much later, if at all.    “Cutting” is a severe and very dangerous coping behavior that is often a result of childhood incest or sexual abuse.  “Cutting” refers to a group of self-induced behaviors that also include banging, carving the skin and burning oneself.  Often the first signs of this problem are picking finger or toe nails, tearing of pieces of skin, reinjuring by removing scabs or picking at skin bumps or irregularities until the skin is red and bleeding.  These behaviors may be caused by other underlying problems, but they have a strong tie to childhood sexual abuse.  As the person gets older, often in the teen years, the forms of “cutting” often become more severe.  At that time and beyond, a person may begin to cut into their skin with a razor blade or knife.  This is usually kept hidden as the individual does not want to be “found out” and restrained from this behavior.  The self wounding is often done to the torso or genital area so that the wounds are covered by clothing.  This is often a compulsive behavior and dangerous because of the possibility of infection, hospitalization or  death, if the wounds are numerous or deep.   This behavior is confusing to others even if they are aware of the incest because it seems as if the person is compounding their pain.  As an incest survivor, I have used this coping mechanism in my life and most of the reasons given by others for their “cutting” behavior are very similar to mine. 

I self-injured when young by picking my nails and skin.  I would pick off any scar or skin irregularity and pick my nails until they sometimes bled.  At that age, I thought I did it because it made me feel calmer but I would later realize that it was a way of having some control or “say” over my body and to punish my body for the sin committed upon it.  Incest victims often punish their body all through their lives because they don’t have the option to punish the abuser(s).  By the time I was college age, I was experimenting with razor blades and knives.  I “cut”, but I had other coping mechanisms that I went to first, so I never cut deeply or had to be hospitalized.  One time that I “self-injured” stands out.   I used a different method, the situation was drastic and it was relatively recent. 

I had been under enormous strain and I could feel that my inner pain had gotten so bad that I was in danger of it exploding to the outside and showing those around me the terrible reality I had always tried so hard to hide.  The pain kept building and I was desperate for a way to stop it from spilling out.  I was sitting and I reached for my purse.  I found a folding knife and a lighter.  I held the flame under the blade until it glowed and then I held the blade to my arm.  The pain was sharp and piercing, but it did what I needed it to do.  I needed the pain to be bad enough to take my mind away from the inner pain.  I held the burning blade on my skin until the pain lessened.  Then I put it and the lighter away.  That is why I and other “self-mutilators” hurt ourselves.   Our emotional pain is so severe and unrelenting, we induce physical pain to block it. 

The other terrible part of this incident was where I was when it happened.  I was in a 5th grade classroom.  I was their teacher, sitting at my desk while they worked on an assignment.  I held the knife and lighter down low where no one could see and I never uttered a sound while holding the burning blade to my arm.   I have a blade mark scar on my arm and always will.   It’s part of the cost.


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