Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Richard Walsh-Bowers

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The problem of intra-familial child sexual abuse has been studied over the past few decades, but the problem of blaming mothers for the occurrence of incest has not been adequately recognized. This study is a documentation of the experiences of mothers of incest survivors. Six women whose daughters were sexually abused by their fathers or step fathers were interviewed for approximately 60 to 120 minutes. Results demonstrated that in their process of dealing with the problem of child sexual abuse, mothers experienced a great deal of pain and hardship. While they were indeed also victims of the incestuous relationship, they were held responsible for the abuse and expected to live with minimal and inadequate services. The difficulties these women experienced include: having no or minimal support from friends and/or relatives, having no understanding and respect from child protection workers and police officers, and being silenced and degraded by the judicial system. In addition, for women who wanted to restrain their ex-husbands’ access to their daughters, they were threatened to be charged for contempt of court; for women who tried to help their husbands deal with their abusive behaviour, they felt that they were rejected by society in general. in terms of personal gains, these mothers found that after the disclosure of incest, their relationships with their daughters became closer. The findings of this study will be presented in a workshop sponsored by Community Justice Initiatives in October 1993. Summaries regarding these mothers’ experiences will be sent to relevant professions to re-evaluate their services and help incestuous families deal with the problem in a more effective, non-judgemental way.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season