Incest Denial

Helping Victims Understand Incest

Grantley Morris

When Being an Incest Victim Does Not Feel Real or Bad

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Incest victims for whom the offence hardly seems real, or it feels like a minor matter, need the special help below. If, however, you are acutely aware of the gravity of the crime committed against you, go immediately to Healing from Sex Abuse.

Children can be molested by someone that they end up deeply loving and perhaps feeling fiercely loyal to, and this unusually strong attachment can continue long into adulthood, with them excusing what was done to them or even refusing to believe it ever happened.

One such woman bared her heart to me. Her mother had always been cold toward her, even when she was very little; seldom hugging her and refusing to comfort her even though she suffered greatly through such things as being scared of the dark and finding it very hard to sleep.

Her father was often away, thus increasing her insecurity, but when he was home he would often come to her in the night and give her the tenderness and comfort she needed and desperately craved. During such times, however, he sexually fondled her, giving her warm sexual comfort. Sometimes what he did caused her intense physical pain but even then he showed he cared by speaking soothingly to her, indicating that he did not want it to hurt, that it would hurt less if she relaxed, and so on.

This woman was about fifty when she wrote to me, saying she had difficulty believing her father’s molestation ever happened and asking if the healing she knew she desperately needed would require her to believe it actually happened.

She had a boatload of unpleasant symptoms and flashbacks, some of which, even to her, were obviously due to child sex abuse but she found it almost impossible to believe that the offender was her father and she kept reverting to thinking/hoping the offender must have been some unknown person. Even though her father’s two brothers were convicted child sex molesters, she believed he was just too nice a person ever to have done such a thing. He strongly denied it, and even if he had done it, he meant the world to her and she desperately wanted to protect his reputation.

As a child, lumbered with the appalling quandary of the father she desperately needed and loved having repeatedly hurt her physically and who insisted she keep secret the “special” things he did to her, she learned to cope in a way that is fairly common in such tragedies: parts of her carried all the disturbing memories so that other parts were completely unaware of them and so were enabled to maintain the delusion that she had a good, safe father who truly cared for her and delighted in her. This compartmentalizing of her memories is called Dissociative Identity Disorder, or more popularly known as multiple personalities.

Through me talking with her parts, it was clear that her father had indeed regularly raped her but her adult parts were either adamant that it could not possibly have happened or kept reverting to trying to convince themselves it never happened.

Some parts were actually aware of the facts of the offenses but other parts bore all the emotions associated with the offenses. This loss of emotional response made it all feel unreal, even to those parts who knew the facts, and that’s the way she preferred it, since her father meant so much to her and she wanted to hold him in the highest esteem and to protect him.

She desperately wanted to believe that even if it had happened, it was no big deal. She forgave him and believed that God had forgiven him because he was a godly man – even though Scripture insists that forgiveness hinges on us confessing our sin and her father refused to admit he had ever done it.

    Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins doesn’t prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Emphasis mine.)

    Jeremiah 2:35 Yet you said, ‘I am innocent. Surely his anger has turned away from me.’ Behold, I will judge you, because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’

    1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    For more on this matter, see the link at the end of this webpage: The Critical Importance of Repentance.

This dear woman was in great torment and it all centered on her living in denial (the problems with this attitude are explained in the link Positive Confession, or Living in Denial? at the end of this page) and with minimizing the gravity of the offense.

She believed she forgave her father but, in reality, it is logically impossible to forgive an innocent person. So real forgiveness begins with acknowledging the gravity of the offence (this is explained in the Why to Truly Forgive Hinges on Getting in Touch with Your Anger link at the end of this webpage).

In what I believe had the power to revolutionize her life, I wrote out a prayer that I suggested she pray, study and return to every now and then. If you are in a similar situation to her, it should help you, too. Here it is:

Lord, you said that the truth sets us free (John 8:32) and that you desire truth in our inner parts (Psalm 51:6). Cause me to honor you by embracing the truth, whatever it is and however hard it is to face. In the name of Jesus, I come against everything blinding me to your truth, whether it be anything deceiving me or something I am willfully doing. Give me the courage to share with my innermost parts what I feel and what I know, and the courage to receive with an open, encouraging heart what other parts share.

Lord, sin makes you angry. You hate it:

    Psalm 5:5 The arrogant shall not stand in your sight. You hate all workers of iniquity.

    Psalm 11:5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and him who loves violence his soul hates.

    Isaiah 61:8 For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and iniquity. . . .

    Zechariah 8:17 “. . . and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says the Lord.

    Psalm 45:7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Repeated in Hebrews 1:9)

How could a loving, holy God be unmoved to see someone he loves with all his heart (and that’s all of us) violated and potentially scarred for life? Help me to be angry at sin like you are.

You have said, “Hate evil, love good,” (Amos 5:15), “Abhor that which is evil,” (Romans 12:9) “You who love the Lord, hate evil,” (Psalm 97:10), “The fear of the Lord [the critical first step (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10) in the wisdom that Scripture says is so important] is to hate evil,” (Proverbs 8:13).

You have said that sex – even casual sex with a prostitute – makes two people one.

    1 Corinthians 6:16 . . . don’t you know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body? For, “The two,” he says, “will become one flesh.”

It is not right that I be one flesh with my father. I want any perverse oneness broken. Only you can achieve that but you require me to want it and to seek the truth about it. I ask that you break any fear, any bondage, any dependency, any oneness or soul-tie that is not of you and shames you or does not honor you, that exist between my father and any part of me.

Over and over in your Word, you moved godly people to confess the sins of their fathers.

    Nehemiah 9:2 . . . stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

    Jeremiah 3:25 . . . we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day.

    Ezra 9:6-7 . . . My God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities have increased over our head, and our guiltiness has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty to this day; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests, have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.

    Psalm 106:6 We have sinned with our fathers. We have committed iniquity. We have done wickedly.

    Jeremiah 14:20 We acknowledge, Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against you.

    Jeremiah 32:16,18 . . . I prayed to the LORD: . . . [You] show loving kindness to thousands, and recompense the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them . . .

    Lamentations 5:7 Our fathers sinned, and are no more; We have borne their iniquities.

    Daniel 9:8,16 Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. . . . please let your wrath be turned away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a reproach to all who are around us.

    Psalm 79:8 Don’t hold the iniquities of our forefathers against us. Let your tender mercies speedily meet us, for we are in desperate need.

    Leviticus 26:40 If they confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers . . .

    (Emphasis mine.)

May I please and glorify you by doing likewise.

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You also declare that a key aspect of your character – your love and righteousness – is that you visit the sins of the fathers upon their children to the third and fourth generation. I recall what happened when Moses begged to see your glory:

    Exodus 34:6-7 The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord! The Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is so fundamental that it appears even in the ten commandments:

    Exodus 20:5 . . . I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation . . .

And this truth is taught elsewhere, such as:

    Isaiah 14:21 Prepare for slaughter of his children because of the iniquity of their fathers . . .

    Isaiah 65:6-7 . . . I will repay into their bosom your own iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together. . . .

    Jeremiah 32:18 who show loving kindness to thousands, and recompense the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them; the great, the mighty God . . .

And it is confirmed by Jesus:

    Luke 11:50-51 that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.

I don't want my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have this sin visited upon them, so help me confess this sin to you so that it can be broken, and show me if there is anything beyond this that I need to do to protect my descendants and also any other children my father might access.

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Lord Jesus, I can call you neither my Lord, nor my God, unless I make you the one I love and obey above anyone or anything else. You insist that your greatest commandment is that I must commit myself to above everything else, love God with everything within me – with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind and all of my strength (Mark 12:30).

What most rivals my love for you is my greatest spiritual danger.

You even specifically applied this to family relationships; saying whoever loves father or mother more than you is not worthy of you (Matthew 10:37). Lord, I want to be worthy of you. I need you more than anyone else in the universe. You alone are the Almighty. On you alone rests my eternal destiny. Only you are totally dependable. You are the one who promised, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15). In the words of the psalmist “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).

In fact, my commitment to you and your righteous ways must soar so far beyond my love for anyone else that you word it this way in Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (almost all Bible versions, emphasis mine).

So, no matter how much choosing to honor and obey you hurts someone close to me, I choose you. I put you above everyone else in my life and above every other allegiance or sense of obligation.

You even said, “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother . . .” (Matthew 10:34). This, you declared is why you came. Your divine mission in coming to earth was to release us from the degradation and damnation of being enslaved by sin. This necessitated you wielding a sword that breaks up close family relationships that are not of you. I accept your sword, no matter what the cost, and I willingly let it sever any family ties that dishonor you. Like a child’s Lego set that has been wrongly put together to form a hideous mess, I yield to you to pull apart every relationship of mine that is not as you want it. I seek your loving wisdom to rebuild my life and affections and attachments so that in them your will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

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Another issue this woman faced was that her father had made her promise never to tell anyone, and she felt obligated to keep that promise, even though keeping the secret was tormenting her and literally endangering her children and grandchildren, because unless she told them they would trust him and be vulnerable to his seduction.

Here’s my response:

    Numbers 30:3-8,12-13 when a woman vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a bond, being in her father’s house, in her youth, and her father hears her vow, and her bond with which she has bound her soul . . . if her father forbids her in the day that he hears, none of her vows, or of her bonds with which she has bound her soul, shall stand. The Lord will forgive her, because her father has forbidden her.

    If she has a husband, while her vows are on her, or the rash utterance of her lips, with which she has bound her soul, and her husband hears it . . . and her husband forbids her in the day that he hears it, then he shall make void her vow which is on her, and the rash utterance of her lips, with which she has bound her soul. The Lord will forgive her. . . . if her husband made them null and void in the day that he heard them, then whatever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand. Her husband has made them void. The Lord will forgive her. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.

If someone can make a full-on, utterly binding vow and another human close to her can override her commitment and release her from the vow, how much more can God, who is a far greater authority than any human, cancel an utterly binding vow that is contrary to his will. If a human father has that authority, how much more does our divine Father, “the father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11). And if a husband – the man who is one flesh with the person – has that authority, how much more does the God who has even greater intimacy and oneness with us (1 Corinthians 6:16-17 “. . .   For, ‘The two,’ he says, ‘will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.).

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Comments from the woman all of the above was originally written for

I was extremely close to my father. I loved him and looked up to him. He was my hero. Even remotely attempting to see him as anything but good and loving would send me into utter despair. I would immediately default to self-harm – cutting myself and dangerously taking far too many pills.

Feeling extreme guilt for having any negative thoughts about my father, and overwhelming shame for responding to the thoughts so poorly made life unbearable. I was in a vicious downward spiral.

I found myself completely unable to fathom that my dad could be an abuser. The very thought made me suicidal. It was obviously a monumental battle, but I was unaware of how spiritual the battle was. Because of my soul-tie with my father I was never able to see him as the perpetrator.

Led by the Holy Spirit, Grantley helped me understand the need to break this bond between my father and myself. Even though I was acutely aware of spiritual warfare and had an awareness of breaking soul-ties, it had never occurred to me that I had such a bond with my father. I now realize this denial was a result of the very nature of this unholy bond. Armed with this new information, I grappled my way through the Scriptures and prayer written above; going through it over and over.

For years I had searched long and hard for healing, greatly desiring wholeness, but unable to even come close. Following the revelation of this soul-tie, I had to pray and trust God to do what only he could. He has never failed me.

In the very first week after praying for God to break the bond with my father, I experienced a healing of monumental proportions. Daily I am growing. Where there was once division within myself, there is now unity. Where there was once labor and strife, there is now peace and assurance. Once I was helpless but now I am hopeful!

If God can do it in me, there is hope for everyone.

I am still in a battle over this, but now I am fighting from the side of victory. I am looking forward to the day I will be made complete in God.

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When a child is forced to be highly dependent upon an abuser for love and security, the mental conflict can be so horrific that the child’s mind splits, with some parts recalling only those times when the abuser was good, kind and safe, and other parts recalling the abuse.

Anna (not her real name), adored her dad and, as an adult, desperately wanted to visit and honor him, whereas other parts of her were adamant that he was guilty of horrific crimes against them, inflicted from babyhood onward. Having known Anna for quite some time I knew that she was one of those people who have split over trying to survive living with an abuser. I wrote the following to Anna and her parts:

    I want to affirm that I fully believe each of you. All of your memories are real. The things you recall actually happened. Memories of your dad doing atrocious things, for example, are real and Anna’s memories of her dad being sweet and kind and loving are just as real. Understandably, the result is highly confusing for you.

    People are so complex that if you examined the life of a mass murderer or sadistic serial rapist and edited out all the atrocities and retained only the good things they had done, the compilation would be impressive. This is what happened to dear Anna’s experience of her dad. Every time he began to engage in vile acts of perversion or cruelty, Anna instantly blacked out and another alter took over so that every experience she ever had with her dad was positive, and each bad time was experienced by another alter who was forced to endure it. I feel deeply for those alters who endured these things.

    Your collective mind did this because it is impossible for children to get their head around the complexity of a father who at times would be exceptionally good and kind and Christian and at other, rarer, times was the exact opposite. As is typical of DID, these mental gymnastics enabled Anna to enjoy islands of peace when she was able to feel both loved (which she desperately craved because of her cold mother) and secure, rather than endure the horror of continual awareness that she was living with someone who, before long, would do appalling things to her. All of you benefited from these islands of peace because they enabled Anna to function at school etc. If it were not for them, you would probably all have ended up in a mental institution.

    Anna’s experiences were real but were founded on the belief that your dad was always safe and good. It came from her being unaware of all the times he treated you atrociously – times when, at huge cost to themselves, others bravely took over so that she could maintain that illusion. Because of this, Anna is deeply indebted to all the others who suffered so much.

    Anna is no longer a child and with this maturity and security comes the mental capacity to cope with the reality of there being two diametrically opposed sides to her father. However, accepting this truth involves the breaking of a lifelong habit that has been entrenched by all her first-hand experiences with her dad being positive because whenever the unpleasant was about to occur she lost consciousness and another part took over.

    Each alter has part of the jigsaw of what your dad was really like, and the full picture emerges only by piecing together every parts’ memories. The full picture is complex and hard to get one’s head around because your dad was nice some times, and cruel and perverse at other times.

    Whereas the truth liberates and heals, running from the full truth keeps on fueling the insidious lie that you must cower for the rest of your life, terrorized by false guilt and groundless fear, and never enjoy the healing and fulfillment that flows from inner wholeness. The choice is entirely yours: with God on your side you can muster the courage and strength to embrace the full truth, or you can spend the rest of your life running from it. Stare down those mockers that flood you with doubt and fear, and they will flee. Running from them, however, emboldens them to keep on haunting you. More than that: it perpetuates the fracturedness within; robbing you of the healing and empowering you were born to enjoy.

For more about the fracturing that incest can cause, see Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personalities).

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Important Links

The Critical Importance of Repentance

Positive Confession, or Living in Denial?

Why to Truly Forgive Hinges on Getting in Touch with Your Anger

The Dilemma of Feeling Pleasure When Abused

Mother-Son Sex Abuse

Healing from Sex Abuse

Other Topics By the Same Author

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