Across 292 different published and peer-reviewed articles we have gathered meta-data on incest. Collectively the dataset includes datapoints from more than 11,311,428 participants and survey respondents. The historical data spans from 1980 to 2023. This makes it the most comprehensive meta-study off incest ever assembled and published.
- 15% of US families have had incest event in the family.
- 32 million Americans report to have been the victims of incest as a child (12.7% of all adults in the US).
- 1 in 5 girls have been victims of incest (compared to 1 in 14 boys).
- 20% of incest victims report the crime to law enforcement.
- 46% of all children under 18 who are raped, have been raped by someone in their own family.
- 74.4% of incest cases happens within the biological family.
- 25.6% of incest cases with someone related, e.g. step-fater (without consanguinity)
- The most frequent type of incest is father-daughter incest (34.8% of all incest cases is father-daughter; 23.1% is brother-sister; 6.1% is mother-son).
- 15% of the females and 10% of the males reported some type of sexual experience involving a sibling.
- 70.8% of all that experience incest was under 18 when it happened the first time (29.2% were 11 or younger, and 43.3% were 12 or younger).
- Over 50% of pornvideos on pornhub have an incesteous angle (title, video theme, or ‘characters played’).
Prevalence of incest
- It is estimated that 10-15% of US families have had incest happen in their family.
- More than 32 million Americans report that they have had a parent rape them as a child.
- 12.7% of all adults self-report to have experienced sexual abuse from a family member as a child.
- Only 20% of victims of incest report the crime committed against them.
- 43-46% of children who are raped are raped by members of their own family.
- 90% of sexual abuse against children under 18 is perpetrated by members of the victims family.
Types of incest
There are many different types of incest, and in the following sections we discuss some of these types, the prevalence of them. Lastly, we compare the prevalence of them compared to each other.
- 74.4% of all cases of incest happens between biological family members (blood-related).
- 25.6% of all cases of incest happens between adopted or step family members (non-blood related).
Father and daughter incest
- 34.8% of all incestuous encounters happen between a daughter and her biological father.
- Father-daughter incest (biological) is the most common type of incest.
Step-father and step-daughter incest
- 12% of all incestuous encounters happen between a step-daughter and step-father.
- Step-fathers are 8 times as likely as biological fathers to sexually assault a step-daughter while living together.
Brother and sister incest
- 23.1% of incest cases happens between a brother and a sister.
- 81% of brother-sister incest cases are between and older brother and younger sister.
Mother and son incest
- 25.4% of male incest victims reported it as mother-son incest.
- 6.1% of of incest events were between a mother and son (with and without consanguinity).
- 55% of adult incest perpetrators were unemployed
- in 79.1% of the families were incest occurred had 3 or more children.
- 30.2% of individuals who self-reported to have had an incestual sexual encounter were over 18.
- 83.7% of incest victims are female.
- 16.3% of incest victims are male.
- Parents that engage in frequent verbal or physical fighting are 5 times more at risk as a family of father-daughter incest.
- 18.7% of girls are victims of some form of incest.
- 7.2% of boys are victims of some form of incest.
Age of victims
- 70.8% of incest victims were 18 or under when it happened.
- 29.2% of incest victims were under 11 years old when it happened.
|Age||% of all victims (age of first incest event)||%, Summative|
|0-2||N/A (not reliable data due to non-reports)||–|
What happens during incest
- In 54.5% of incest cases, respondents report that penetration was a part of the sexual encounter.
- 33% of incest victims experienced anal penetration
- 32.6% of incest events last for more than one year.
- 93.1% of incest victims were not physically assaulted.
What happens after – the consequences
- 93% of women who experience abuse from their father develop an eating disorder at some point in life.
- All of the women who report to have been abused by their father during childhood have been diagnosed with depression.
- 55-65% of sexual offenders have been the victims of incest during childhood.
- Sexual abuse victims are 11 times more likely to become Incestual offenders compared to people who have not.
- Incest victims have on average 16% higher health costs (doctors, phychiatrists, medicin, etc.).
- Incestual relationships can lead to inbreeding which can cause congenital disorders, disabilities (mental and physical), and developmental issues for the children.
Laws against incest
- Most western countries have banned incest based on reasoning around inbreeding.
- However, most countries does not categorize first-, or second-cousin relationships for incest.
- 8-11% of relationships in South America, East Asia, and Southern Europe are between first-, or second-cousins.
- 50% of all relationships in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia are between first-, or second-cousins.
In the us, laws are on a state-by-state basis:
|Alabama||1 to 10 years||$15,000|
|Alaska||2 to 12 years||$50,000|
|Arizona||1 to 3.75 years||N/A|
|Arkansas||3 to 10 years||$10,000|
|California||max 3 years||$10,000|
|Colorado||2 to 12 years||up to $750,000|
|Connecticut||1 to 5 years||$5,000|
|Delaware||max 1 year||$2,300|
|Florida||max 15 years||$5,000|
|Georgia||10 to 30 years||N/A|
|Hawaii||max 5 years||N/A|
|Idaho||maximum life sentence||N/A|
|Illinois||2 to 10 years||$25,000|
|Indiana||1 to 6 years||N/A|
|Iowa||max 5 years||$7,500|
|Kansas||5 months to 11.3 years||N/A|
|Kentucky||5 years to life||N/A|
|Louisiana||5 to 30 years||N/A|
|Maine||max 5 years||$5,000|
|Maryland||1 to 10 years||N/A|
|Massachusetts||max 20 years||N/A|
|Michigan||max 2 years||$500|
|Minnesota||max 10 years||N/A|
|Mississippi||max 10 years||$500|
|Missouri||max 7 years||N/A|
|Montana||maximum life sentence||N/A|
|Nebraska||1 to 25 years||N/A|
|Nevada||2 years to life||$10,000|
|New Hampshire||10 to 20 years||N/A|
|New Jersey||18 months to 15 years||N/A|
|New Mexico||max 3 years||$5,000|
|New York||10 to 25 years||N/A|
|North Carolina||10 months to 15.2 years||N/A|
|North Dakota||max 5 years||$10,000|
|Ohio||2 to 6 years||N/A|
|Oklahoma||max 10 years||N/A|
|Oregon||max 20 years||$375,000|
|Pennsylvania||max 10 years||N/A|
|Rhode Island||No criminal prosecution for 16+||N/A|
|South Carolina||6 months to 5 years||minimum $500|
|South Dakota||max 15 years||$30,000|
|Tennessee||3 to 15 years||$10,000|
|Texas||2 to 20 years||$10,000|
|Utah||max 5 years||$5,000|
|Vermont||max 5 years||$1,000|
|Virginia||1 to 20 years||up to $100,000|
|Washington||max 10 years||up to $10,000|
|West Virginia||5 to 15 years||$500 to $5,000|
|Wisconsin||max 40 years||$100,000|
|Wyoming||max 15 years||$10,000|
Consensual incest on the rise?
Looking at data on “consensual incest” we found an interesting pattern, that it since 1970 have gained more than x190 times the interest. The question then becomes if it is more prevalent than earlier or simply more talked about.
A single study found that 30% reported positive reactions to incest between siblings. However, multiple studies after have showed that a lot of victims of incest suffer from distorted and disturbed views about their own experiences.
That being said, there has been a lot of media stories about sibling couples. Some include:
- Bruce McMahan and Linda McMahan – UK couple, Father-daughter incest, married in 2004, have since seperated.
- John Deaves and Jenny Deaves – Australian couple, father-daughter incest, interviewed by 60 minutes, arrested affer a child suffered a heart defect and died.
- Danielle Heaney and Nick Cameron – half-brother-sister incest, met when they were 20 and 26 years old, from Scotland, sentenced to 9 month probation, living together.
- Patrick Stuebing And Susan Karolewski – step-brother-sister incest, German couple, Stuebing was adopted at birth and raised in the family, work as activists to change German laws on incest.
- Mackenzie Phillips and John Phillips – father-daughter incest, John Phillips was a part of the band “The Mamas and the Papas”, moved to mexico and raised Mackenzie’s younger siblings as their own.
- Allen Muth and Patricia Muth – brother-sister incest, from Wisconsin, the couple met as adults and had children together, eventually they faced 5 and 8 years in prison each.
Prevalence in porn
- Over 50% of the porn on Pornhub featured some form of incest
- The share of incest videos increase on average by 1.5% each year (since 2016).
History and religion
As we are not as concerned with these aspects – both the historical aspect of the first story of e.g. mother-son incest from the roman Oedipus-story. Nor the specific religious attitudes towards incest.
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