Grenade – The Impact of Incest

WWII grenade, Author J-L Dubois (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A romantic dream unfolds lazily.  A man and woman who are obviously attracted to one another banter playfully.  The scene shifts and they kiss passionately. 

Then a grenade goes off.  The man’s image is replaced with that of the woman’s father.  He states blandly that she initiated their sexual encounter, that the fault for the incest is hers. 

Though she knows the accusation is false, though the incest was years in the past, though she was a child at the time, though there was never any “romance” involved, the horror is overwhelming.  It continues even after the woman awakes.

Incest is rarely discussed in polite company, and then in hushed terms.  The damage it inflicts is like that of a grenade going off.  Hopes are shattered.  Lives are destroyed.  And the grenade never stops inflicting damage, leaving lifelong scars.

The metaphor may sound extreme.  Tragically, it is not.

The victims of incest experience enormous guilt and shame.  But the fault is NEVER theirs.

Incest has been classified into the following categories [1].  Often, these overlap:

  • Affection-based.   The incest in this situation provides the victim a semblance of emotional connection where real nurture is lacking.  Pseudo-concern (“grooming”) by the perpetrator masks as genuine support for the victim.  There is an emphasis on the “specialness” of the relationship.  Emotional a/k/a covert incest (in which a parent effectively makes a child his/her surrogate spouse) falls into this category, whether or not sexual contact occurs.
  • Erotic-based a/k/a Polyincest.  In this situation, all relationships in the family are eroticized.  There may be multiple perpetrators.
  • Aggression-based.  In this situation, the perpetrator vents his/her frustrations on the vulnerable victim.  Both forced sexual contact and physical abuse are frequently involved.
  • Rage-based.  In this situation, the perpetrator is sadistic – deriving pleasure from his/her victim’s pain –  and the life of the victim is at risk.

Incest victims may spend years wrestling with guilt and shame, slamming into walls, repeating past mistakes.  However painful and difficult our struggle, it is not fruitless.  Rather, the incest victim’s battle is a valiant expression of the human spirit.

We have looked Satan in the eye and survived.  That is a remarkable achievement.

[1]  Psychiatric Times, “Ramifications of Incest” by Richard Kluft MD PhD,



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

22 responses to “Grenade – The Impact of Incest

  1. Yes. That’s all I can say right now. Just… Yes.

    Thank you for your compassionate, empathetic, knowledgeable, affirming voice.

  2. Amir

    Reblogged this on Notes and commented:
    There seems a lot unsaid in such a brief post. For example, how does the past incest affect one’s future potential of finding and trusting true love?

    • You are absolutely right. These issues are complex. They can take a lifetime to untangle. Broadly speaking, the damage from child abuse, in any form, falls into two categories: damage to victims’ ability to trust others, and damage to self-esteem. Problems w/ trust can cause victims to self-isolate, in an effort to avoid further pain. Problems w/ self-esteem can cause victims to believe they are unworthy of love, so select (or settle for) partners who do not treat them w/ the love and respect they deserve.

  3. Pingback: Grenade – The Impact of Incest — ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse

  4. An unimaginable theft on which you have been able to speak the unspeakable. I think the educational way you do so, filled with faith based inspiration gives a glimpse behind the meaning of your term “survivor”.

  5. Anna, thank you for having the fortitude to write about a very traumatic experience. And thank you for your courage. Blessings, my dear friend.

  6. Allan Halton

    Regardless how deep the stain, there are no beings in the universe more pure and clean than those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. That blood is in the Spirit, whom God gives to all who believe in Jesus.

  7. Pingback: Grenade – The Impact of Incest – NarrowPathMinistries

  8. Hi Anna, I know this is an older post of yours but I just ran across it. I was adopted when I was a few months old and my adopted mother was physically and verbally abusive to me for a number of my earlier years, until I was about 14 and I stood up for myself against the beatings. My mind has a difficult time imagining the impact that incest has on a child’s mind, body and spirit, when I consider how just the abusive actions and words affected me. They run deep so I can only imagine. The trust that is violated is immense. The baggage that you suppress is there, hidden away, yet part of who you are. What is amazing is that Jesus can heal it, release you from its control, but it takes time. My wife and I have five children who are all grown up now. My mind cannot accept how anyone could do that to their own child, the incest. I know that I have had the opportunity to speak to other Christians who experienced what I did and share with them how God healed me. And then I look at what you have done, through God’s grace, helping others, turning evil into good. Wounded and hurt sheep, helping other wounded and hurt sheep, because our Shepherd is there. I know you don’t need thanks but I do have to say it, because it matters. Thank you. Blessings.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Bruce. I am sorry to hear you suffered so. I hardly deserve your praise. But I do agree that our God is amazing. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1: 3-4).

      • Well Anna, I think what you have survived and what you have done and continue to do is highly commendable and your light shines and brings glory to our God. Amen to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.