Intergenerational transmission of sexual abuse? Motherhood in the shadow of incest

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The aim of the study was to understand why the dynamic of sexual abuse is perpetuated across successive generations. A qualitative analysis was conducted on therapy session transcripts and diaries written during the therapy of 24 mothers who were survivors of incest, and whose children were the victims of incest. Four types of mothers were defined: the Unaware mother, characterized by a complete lack of cognitive knowledge of the sexual abuse occurring in her home; the Unwitting Accomplice, characterized by latent cooperation with the sexual abuse perpetrated by her husband; the Enabler, characterized by overtly or covertly encouraging her spouse in the raping of her daughter; and the Common Fate mother, characterized by sharing a common fate with her daughters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-101
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Motherhood
  • Mothers
  • Sexual abuse
  • Types of motherhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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