Sexual abuse by a cousin is incest

New York Law Journal

One area of sexual abuse remains secretive, private, and unprosecuted – incest between family members other than a parent or a sibling. A number of studies regarding incest have been done. To our knowledge, none have specifically included cousins as perpetrators or victims.

There is a difference between an exploitative relationship versus teenage experimentation with each other between equal aged minors. When a teenager exploits and coerces a younger child in his family such as cousins engaging in any type of sexual behavior – even what they might call experimentation – that behavior is sexual abuse. The older cousin is abusing his protective role. Such abuse at the hands of someone who is considered family is devastating whether or not it is legally considered “incest.”

All of this raises difficult questions. Who and when do we talk with children about sex? Children are taught not to talk to strangers and that no one has the right to inappropriately touch them. Importantly, children must understand that this lesson applies to everyone, including family members, including cousins. So many children are abused by a protector and don’t report it because they care for or even love the abuser and they may feel guilt. As alluded to earlier, while there are states that allow cousins to marry, this does not address the problem of a purported protector taking advantage of a victim. Just because two teenagers are allowed to marry, this does not neutralize the fact that a child was sexually abused.

Sexual abuse by a cousin is incest

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Filed Under Childhood Sexual Abuse Marsh Law Firm Blog 

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