Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 163–175 | Cite as

The incest offender, power, and victimization: Scales on the same dragon

  • Rita Sommers-Flanagan
  • H. A. Walters


It is contended that incest is a specific case of a larger problem, that being inappropriate use of power, resulting in victimization of a weaker person. The article is primarily an exploration of ideas regarding root causes of such victimization. It is proposed that implied ownership is present in certain traditional family constellations in our society. It is further proposed that many factors, including this implied ownership, contribute to a profound lack of empathy on the part of the offender. Numbered among these factors are our individualistic, compartmentalized culture, developmental deficits, and overt choices on the part of the offender. Concluding comments call for further reflection and attention to the issues raised, with suggestions regarding important areas for focus and investigation.

Key words

incest power victimization empathy ownership 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita Sommers-Flanagan
    • 1
  • H. A. Walters
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversity of MontanaMissoula

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