Trapped in an Incestuous Relationship

How do I say "no" to someone in my family who has been forcing me to engage in sexual acts? I can hardly bear to think about this! I feel ugly, dirty, worthless, wretched, and used. I don't want this to continue, but I'm afraid to tell anyone what's going on, and without help there's nothing I can do to prevent it. What should I do?

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We’re so sorry this is happening to you. The first thing we want to help you understand is that the painful feelings you’re experiencing have nothing to do with you, and they do not take away any of your value as a child of God. The cause of these emotions is the selfishness of the person who is hurting you.

You also need to know that help is available. If you are under the age of 18, we urge you to seek immediate assistance from a safe, responsible, caring adult or group of adults. Your parents are the first and most obvious choice. But this won’t work if one of them is responsible for mistreating you, or if they’re already aware of what’s been going on but have done nothing to protect you. In that case, you should confide in some other responsible adult you can trust: a teacher, a school counselor, a pastor, a youth leader, or the parent of a friend. It would also be a good idea to make an appointment with a professional counselor, preferably a licensed Christian therapist who is trained in trauma care. A strong and caring support system can provide comfort and reassurance in hard times like this.

We strongly encourage you to ask the adult you confide in to help you call the legal authorities in your area. Even though it won’t be easy to take this step, it’s important to report the person who has been hurting you to the police and the Department of Social Services as soon as possible. Keeping this situation secret will be harmful to you and it might put other young people in danger, too. Making the report can help you take back control of your life, and it’s also a way to overcome feeling like a victim.

For additional information and guidance, we suggest you contact the
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-879-6682. If you think it could also be helpful to speak with a member of our staff here at Focus, please call our Counseling department. Our counselors can provide you with a list of professionals practicing in your area, and they would be more than willing to talk and pray with you over the phone. Keep in mind, however, that they are required by law to report every case of sexual abuse that is brought to their attention.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Door of Hope: Recognizing and Resolving the Pains of Your Past

No Place to Cry: The Hurt and Healing of Sexual Abuse

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

On the Threshold of Hope: Opening the Door to Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Hush: Moving from Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)

Copyright © 2010, Focus on the Family.

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