Beyond Trauma pp 171-186 | Cite as

The Prevalence, Trauma, and Sociocultural Causes of Incestuous Abuse of Females

A Human Rights Issue
  • Diana E. H. Russell
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


“I just did what he told me to do,” declared Irma Viljoen (pseudonym), a white South African incest survivor who was sexually abused by her stepfather from the age of 8 to 13. Irma, now 25 and recently divorced, has attempted suicide eight times. She was 13 years old when she first tried to kill herself. Her stepfather, Piet Viljoen, succeeded in silencing her until she was almost 16—three years after his marriage to her mother broke up. This is how Irma described his method of silencing her:

He threatened to hit me if I ever spoke about it. He used to sit there in the afternoons with his gun and threaten me. At a later stage when I went to boarding school, he threatened to kill me. When I was about 10 or 11, he made me watch two movies and then do what the women did in them. In one of the movies a lot of men raped a woman and did whatever else they wanted to her. The other movie showed a woman being cut up alive after the men had sex with her. My stepfather threatened to do the same to me if I told anyone what he was doing to me. That is why I would rather have died than tell anyone. The movies pumped into my head that “this is my life.” (Russell, 1993a, p. 10)


Sexual Abuse Child Sexual Abuse Borderline Personality Disorder Rape Myth Compulsive Sexual Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana E. H. Russell
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Emerita Professor of SociologyMills CollegeBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Russell Research on Sexual AssaultBerkeleyUSA

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