Growing up in the dysfunction of incest caused so many truths to be unknown to me.
When my daughter was about five, she asked me a question that hurt my heart to the core. I was putting her down one night and she said, “Mommy, how will I know when someone is bad? Dad is good, but he is sometimes bad.”
I had come from the exact same situation and I had now put her into the thick of it. Her father was a pedophile, too, I just couldn’t see good from evil when I married him.
The fight to see the truth is a very real one. It took hard lesson after catastrophic event for me to finally open my eyes and search for it at any cost.
I was on an SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) zoom meeting the other day. I heard a woman say, “If my father hadn’t raped me, he was a good dad.”
I thought about that and understood that I had really done the very same thing. It wasn’t that I taught myself to believe my dad was good, he had demanded that I see him that way.
My parents were my rule makers, not God.
As a child, if you are hurt by someone on the playground – that’s an offense, right? If someone drove by you and threw a rock at your head and you bled, that’s wrong, isn’t it? Why are these moral transgressions black and white and ones among family members not?
Yet, in a home of incest, things that are wrong are demanded to be seen as ok. You are charged with caring for the very people who attack you time and time again. After years of this institutionalization, it became my fabric, too.
Time and time again I meet people who take care of these deceitful people. They don’t grow up and leave them like a normal rape victim would. They grow up and believe it is their job to care for these people.
In the book of Romans (12:17-21) this scripture is often used as a way to stay close to our abusers:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I do not see these words or any other words in the bible tell me that I need to be my abusers’ caregiver, confidant or mate. I see these words as a call to freedom.
I do not repay evil with evil. I can only live peaceably when someone allows that peace between us. And I do not seek revenge.
In the case of incestuous relationships, there’s a very strong caution for keeping the most strict boundaries with these abusers. They are delicately wicked. They will entrap you if you are not carefully aware of their schemes. You must also take care not to internalize the abuse so much, normalize it, that you pass it on in the generational cycle of abuse.
Love them from a distance.