The Legacy of Incest

Many of us have common characteristics arising from incest. When the subject of incest or sexual abuse is mentioned, we may feel queasy, nauseous, or hostile, and tend to run away.

Many of us have amnesia and cannot remember large portions of our childhoods. We may not remember the incest for decades. We often believe that childhood was a wonderful, pleasant, and happy time.

Incest memories rarely appear intact. They are usually felt as if through a fog, or in fragments. The memories may appear at any time, triggered by a sound, voice, physical feeling, taste, touch, smell or emotion. The usual response is to try and deny and ignore what is being remembered.

To stuff our pain, we often engage in compulsive behaviors, such as alcohol or drug abuse, eating disorders, compulsive spending, gambling, excessive exercise, sex addiction and work addiction. We may pick at our fingers or skin, cut ourselves or damage our bodies in other ways. Some of us may take the route of suicide. We are often out of touch with our feelings and bodies.

We tend to feel isolated, uneasy and vulnerable around other people, especially authority figures. We tend to have difficulty and guilt feelings standing up for ourselves. We often have low self-esteem and may hate ourselves. Our lives may be a constant struggle to maintain control. Touch is often associated with powerlessness and love with control or being controlled. We have difficulty trusting. We may not even trust ourselves.

We may be sexually shut down or promiscuous. Our relationships, when attempted, either duplicate the abuse of our childhood, or are with individuals whom we pity, want to rescue, or can control. We tend to dissociate during sex. Much of the time we travel in a state of hyper-vigilance. This hyper-vigilance creates a constant fear of attack. It can also cause us to be easily triggered.

We are often bored or uncomfortable when life goes smoothly. We often sabotage ourselves and cause problems to stir things up. We may be addicted to adrenalin and excitement.