Father-Daughter Incest: How Common is it, What Help is Available?
Now that Mackenzie Phillips has told of how she had a incestuous relationship with her father John Phillips, the front man to the Mamas and the Papas, she is hoping that many who have suffered as she had will see it as an opportunity to speak out about their own experience with incest and finally get the help and support they need.
Incest is any sexual activity between people who are related, mostly within the immediate family, but it depends on the society that you live in that defines how close the family members have to be to determine a sex act 'incest'.
Some studies show that incest between fathers and daughters is the most common kind of incest, but it can occur between mothers and sons and brothers and sisters.
Mackenzie Phillips called the relationship between her and her father 'consensual incest'.
Consensual incest means that it is between consenting adults and is not forced, so it is not rape. A quick search on Google reveals hundreds of sites devoted to consensual incest; some of them are straight-up porn so the interest in this act exists.
An article in The Guardian, published in 2002, tells of a woman who had a consensual sexual relationship with her father. The woman invovled, Karen, says she knew of many who had this kind of relationship:
that she had made contact with lots of people over the internet (and consequently in person): boys, girls, fathers, mothers, who are sleeping with their kin. The internet is value-free: it doesn't care or know whether you are selling a secondhand car or buying arms. If you want to get in touch with someone, it makes no moral distinction between anti-globalisation protesters and convicted paedophiles. So now there are chatrooms and websites that are de facto support groups for people engaged in incest. And what they want is to normalise what we have long considered to be profoundly abnormal.
Most of the fear of two adults having sex that are related, such as a father and daughter, comes from the fact that a child can be produced from the union, and it is well documented that birth defects can occur from inbreeding. In a case in the 1990s in Michigan, the offspring of a father-daughter had severe birth defects and some of the babies died soon after birth. Incest can accelerate the appearance of negative recessive genes.
So father-daughter incest is more common than you might think.
John and Jenny Deaves in Australia are father and daughter, and they have a consensual incestuous relationship and they now have a nine-month old daughter. Their first child died just days after birth. They have now been told they cannot have a sexual relationship but may support each other for the sake of the child. They were estranged for years, but knew that they were related when they first had sex.
Mrs Deaves said soon after reuniting with her father she began to see him as a man first and her father second.
"I was looking at him, sort of going, oh, he's not too bad," she said.
"Like you might look at a man across the bar at a nightclub."
This is known as Genetic Sexual Attraction, and support groups like this one are quite common on the internet.
The case of Josef Fritzl and his daughter Elisabeth was not genetic sexual attraction and was not consensual incest, but that is another story that has made headlines recently.
There are of course, other kinds of incest and other examples, but due to the story of Mackenzie Phillips and her father John Phillips, this subject has been brought back in to the spotlight again.
So what can you do if you need some assistance with this subject or are even a victim yourself or know someone who is?
There are many support groups that deal with incest:
Survivors of Incest Anonymous deals mostly with child sexual abuse, but it can be a starting point for other forms of incest.
Yahoo has a directory of Groups designed to help those dealing with sexual abuse / incest and rape.