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Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and Its Devastation [Paperback]

Forward Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and Its Devastation Betrayal of Innocence: Incest and Its Devastation 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (1 Aug 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014005264X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140052640
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book on the subject 26 April 1999
By A Customer
This is a good starting place for anyone wishing to research the subject of incest. It's concise, well-written, compassionate, insightful, and full of information. Even though it's been in print for 20 years, it's up to date and still the best book available.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I too am a survivor 26 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I read this book on the advice of my therapist. Eventhough I read this book at least 15 years ago, I can still remember vividly the encounters of other children as recounted by the author. Although I read most of the book with blurry vision due to tears, I also felt some comfort from knowing that I wasn't alone, that I wasn't to blame, and that I had no reason to feel guilty. The analysis of the author between some of the cases was very insightful. I learned how much responsibility my mom actually shared in the incest, although as a child I thought of her as being completely innocent. I thought I was protecting her with my silence. This book was a great comfort for me. I hope that others who have been victims of incest will also find it to be a comfort.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book on the subject 26 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a good starting place for anyone wishing to research the subject of incest. It's concise, well-written, compassionate, insightful, and full of information. Even though it's been in print for 20 years, it's up to date and still the best book available.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on incest!!! 11 Nov 2010
By Christine Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This has been the most amazing and eye opening book for me. I have also shared it with my therapist. My abuse was by my father so the father-daughter incest is of most interest to me. I have learned all of the below from this book!!!

It explains how and why incest occurs. It describes how the child perceives the event, the personality of an abuser, and the dynamics of abuse and the incestuous family. It talks about the aftereffects, diagnosis (PTSD) and treatment. We often have traumatic reenactment as we become sexual in outside relationships. We are either disconnected sexually from our bodies or we act out sexually with multiple, often random partners.

Being sexual or doing things for others was the only way I felt I was of any value to anyone else. Why else would they love me if I didn't service them? How else was I of any intrinsic value? I felt power, love and acceptance when I sexually pleased a man. This became my goal in relationships and was how I attracted men. I have confused love, guilt and sex and seen myself as a sexual object.

We must have the understanding of the child's reality, understand that it confounds and contradicts adult logic. Incest abuse is a process with five stages. The child usually learns to accept and accommodate and basic trust is violated. This causes fundamental trust issues for the victim for the rest of his/her life. The family is often enmeshed with lack of appropriate boundaries and role reversals where the child often becomes the significant other to the abuser.

To understand why children blame themselves look only at the child's perception of reality and their defense systems. To a young child, adults, especially parents, are the embodiment of all wisdom and goodness. The child must believe the parent is good because the child is totally helpless and dependent upon the parent. To believe, even for a moment, that a trusted adult is bad would be terrifying and overwhelming. THEREFORE, IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS, THE CHILD AUTOMATICALLY BELIEVES IT IS BECAUSE HE/SHE IS BAD!!! Any other belief causes too much anxiety. Self blame is a powerful defense mechanism for the child. Without it the child would feel unbearable feelings of panic and terror.

The problem is that while this defense is an important survival tool for the young child, victims often take it along with them into their adult lives. They forget they are no longer defenseless and helpless and continue to feel and believe exactly as they did as children. "IF I FEEL BAD, I AM BAD." This is what I am still working on today. I have felt the three D's of incest: Dirty, Damaged and Different. I have felt everyone else is more deserving than I am. I have tried continued self punishment to try to cleanse away the sins I never committed.

HOWEVER, INCEST IS NOT ABOUT SEX!!! IT IS ABOUT PURSUING POWER OR VALIDATION. There seem to be two powerful forces at work inside the large majority of incest aggressors. The first is an almost insatiable need for unconditional love and adoration. There is something terribly engaging about the way that a child can love. No adult relationship is free from conflict or criticism, but children love totally without judgment. This can be a powerful aphrodisiac for a man who, no matter how powerful or competent he may appear to the outside world, carries within him deep feelings of inadequacy. Another type of aggressor defends against his own feelings of inadequacy by gaining power and control over a helpless, dependent child.

It helped me to put the blame and responsibility back on my abuser instead of myself. It explained to me why my family has reacted with denial and a desire for suppression. The role and power of the abuser and family loyalty determine how the family will react. Some members have contracts of silence with the abuser. Many family members will look to suppress it or minimize it. The mother is most often a codependent enabler. Denial is what makes incest abuse a generational problem.

It has allowed me to understand why I feel bad when I have bad feelings. It has explained to me why I have made bad life decisions and shown self destructive behaviors. I felt it was my fault. I continue to want to act out so that I can feel justified in my guilt and be in my comfort zone of shame and blame once again.

I attempted to be good, both to deal with my guilt and to earn the love and acceptance I so desperately craved. I received special attention from my father and that is what kept me quiet and guilt ridden. I became my father's lover as my mother was distant and disconnected from him.

My bed and home were never safe. I had and still have constant nightmares, night terrors as I call them. I often "played possum", dissociated and pretended nothing was going on. I had a hard time often determining if something really happened or it was a dream. I felt powerless. I tried to gain control in other ways through addictions, such as my eating disorder. I developed OCD and an anxiety disorder. I was constantly afraid and felt like I was dodging bullets.

I idolized my father and always painted him as the "romanticized" version of the father that I always wanted. He had to be a loving man so I must be the bad one that was getting what I deserved. This caused self loathing. I hated my body and myself. I tried to kill both multiple times.

Secrecy is what communicates that something is wrong and it is dangerous to tell so no abuse and coercion rarely are needed for incest abuse to occur. Had the other family members been safe to tell then the dynamics of the incestuous family would not have been present, and the abuse would not have occurred.

We must stop denial and dissociation. We need truth and reality to heal. We need to get away from our family systems, intervention from the outside, to disclose and heal without desiring to suppress our abuse once again. Acceptance and validation are key for healing. If the victim is blamed, shamed or disbelieved then the effects of the abuse are compounded instead of changed.

Let us heal and shift the blame and responsibility from the victim to the appropriate place, the abuser. Let us recover and move from victims to survivors. LET US GO FROM VICTIMS TO VICTORIOUS!!!
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced view 12 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book takes an amazingly balanced view. It describes the complete dynamics of all types of incest, including Father-Daughter, Mother-Son, Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, and extended family. It also has an excellent chapter on suggested modifications to our legal and social system that would help the problem.
I do not agree with the review that the book describes the aggressor as always being some kind of horrible person. Sometimes this is the case, but the book shows a more significant social issue in that the aggressor is often "the average joe" with a significant boundary crossing issue that must be resolved. She indicates that incest may be a much more prevalent problem than most people are willing to admit, particularly if you extend the definition of incest to include inappropriate sexual behaviors beyond intercourse, and may affect up to 40% of women in the U.S.!
I found Susan Forward's suggestions that our social outrage and reactions to the incest taboo are very destructive to society, in that it prevents disclosure of incest, and makes positive and effective treatment of the victim and the aggressor very difficult; that our reaction in this particular kind of crime, society and the family are almost always better served by modifications of our legal system to better treat the entire family dynamic as well as the personal issues of the aggressor, who she claims is the "most easily rehabilitated" of all of the sex offenders. I was surprised to learn that she has seen success rates of up to 90% in reuniting entire families after incidents of incest, which would be impossible if the offenders were the stereotypical "heartless scum" that we see in the popular media.
All this from a person who herself was a victim of incest.
I think this book should be required reading in our high schools.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Publisher 3 Oct 2005
By Earl R. Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
"Incest was once called the ultimate taboo. Today we realize that it is a reality with which millions cope on a daily basis. In this insightful and sensitive book, Dr. Susan Forward, bestselling author of Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and renowned expert on sexual abuse and addictive relationships, uses twenty-five case histories--including father and daughter, mother and son, siblings, grandfather and granddaughter, mother and daughter, and father and son-to explore the traumatic effects of incest and to analyze its causes and consequences on every member of a family. In Betrayal of Innocence, Forward shows that the public's new awareness of the problem and increased availability of treatment can be of enormous benefit to victims and their families. By breaking the silence that has always surrounded this devastating subject, Betrayal of Innocence offers practical help and comfort to the survivors of child abuse and to those who love, live, or work with them."
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