The Truth About Incest

Kudos to Hollywood for finally tackling the taboo topic of incest. But researchers paint another picture of what it looks like in real life.

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Getty Images

Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire goes where not even the usual depictions of black dysfunction usually go.

The protagonist, Claireece “Precious” Jones, is sexually abused by her father—and her mother. Her father impregnates her twice and infects her with an STD that eventually kills him.

These extreme, fictional examples of child sexual abuse may reflect true experiences by some people. God, bless them. However, the sexual abuse depicted in Precious doesn’t reflect what really happens in homes where children are sexually abused.

First, stepfathers—not fathers—are more likely to be abusers in homes where this occurs. Sibling-sibling incest is the next mostly likely occurrence, according to Professor Debra Lieberman, a University of Miami psychology professor, who has written extensively about the social cues that lead to “incest avoidance.” (In plain language: How people know not to “mess with” their relatives.)

According to Lieberman, mother-son incest, which is extremely rare, comes next. Even then, the son is likely to initiate. And the type of mother-daughter abuse depicted in Precious? Not unheard of, but certainly not the type of trend that should lead people to believe its depiction on the big screen is indicative of a vast conspiracy to ignore its existence.