Sometimes, the dangers children face in life don't come from abusers who lurk in playgrounds looking for opportunities to get them alone and assault them. Many girls have experienced sexual abuse from their own fathers, which explains why father-daughter incest is shockingly common, just like incest between siblings.
If this sounds implausible, consider this: About 90% of sexual abuse cases against children are perpetrated by people they know.
What makes these crimes hard to detect is that the perpetrator often looks like a nice person who has the child's best interest at heart. After all, fathers are famous for their special relationships with their daughters. So, someone who misreads signs a father is grooming his daughter might even get jealous of the "special" or "loving" relationship such a dad shares with his daughter.
The reason why many fathers successfully groom their daughters is that they are close relatives who often don't raise suspicion that they could be preying on their daughters. So, you have to be especially keen to identify signs a father is grooming his daughter for incest.
Grooming is the process through which an adult initiates and maintains a sexual relationship with a victim in secrecy. In the case of fathers, this process helps the girl get over natural prohibitions she should naturally have when interacting with her father until the relationship becomes sexual.
First of all, let's have a look at the grooming stages that the targeted victim goes through before the relationship gets incestuous.
Grooming Stages That Lead To Father-Daughter Incest
Before looking at signs a father is grooming his daughter, it is important to understand the grooming stages such parents put their victims through. This will help make indications that the girl is being groomed for incest more obvious.
1. Targeting The Child By Offering Them Special Attention
During this stage, the father might give the daughter special attention. Usually, he will try to exploit a particular vulnerability the daughter might have such as neglect, a dysfunctional family situation, isolation, or lack of attention from the other parent or caregiver.
2. Gaining The Child's Trust
Here, the father tries to lower suspicion by offering warmth, attention, and support to the daughter. He will also try to learn as much as possible about her and meet her needs. For instance, he might take her to the movies or do other things she likes.
3. Isolating The Child
During this stage, the father will start to create scenarios where he is left alone with the girl. For instance, he might offer to babysit, go on "special" trips with her, and create an illusion that nobody else understands the child as he does.
4. Sexualizing The Child
During this stage, the father will gently create situations that exploit the girl's natural sexual curiosity. For instance, they can both swim naked, or he can touch the girl in a sexual way. He might even offer to teach the girl things like masturbation.
5. Maintaining Control Over The Child
Once the sexual relationship starts, the father will start to use secrecy, threats, and other techniques to make sure the truth about what is going on never gets out. For instance, he might tell her that they will end up in jail or ruin the family if she reveals what is going on. This fear keeps daughters from telling on their fathers even after years of sexual abuse.
Let's have a look at some of the most common signs a father is grooming his daughter for incest.
Signs A Father Is Grooming His Daughter For Incest
Above are the steps that most fathers will take when grooming a child for incest. Now, let's look at signs a father is grooming his daughter for incest.
1. Giving Gifts, One Of The Key Signs A Father Is Grooming His Daughter
A father who seems to go to a lot of lengths to gift his daughter is usually trying to flatter her and make her feel special enough to allow him to cross certain boundaries with her. This is one of the most obvious signs a father is grooming his daughter, but it's easy to miss since loving fathers give their daughters gifts all the time.
2. Special Attention For The Daughter
Although offenders will rarely get caught abusing their victims, they often show signs that they don't respect certain personal boundaries. Therefore, a father who is grooming his daughter for incest will be seen behaving inappropriately toward his daughter. This is one of the signs a father is grooming his daughter that might be easier to spot because you can easily tell that other kids aren't getting the same attention.
3. Too Much Touching
Someone who is grooming a child for incest will test the waters by introducing touch into the relationship. They might hug the child often or put their hands around their shoulders in front of other people. So, touching is among the most visible signs a father is grooming his daughter.
Small children can get confused by the touching since they might not know what is appropriate even if they feel uncomfortable. Eventually, she might think this kind of touching is normal and become less resistant to more inappropriate touching down the road. Eventually, he might start to share sexually explicit material with the girl to normalize sex.
4. Creating Barriers Between The Girl And Other Close Family Members And Friends
Since incest is generally not something most people approve of, fathers who seek such relationships will often try to isolate their daughters from people who might get in the way. Therefore, they might make the girl avoid too many interactions with friends and other caregivers.
Generally, he will try to make her feel that he is the only person who can understand her needs and take proper care of her. In other words, if the girl seems distrustful of other people other than her dad, then that's one of the signs a father is grooming his daughter for incest if he hasn't abused her already.
Signs A Girl Has Undergone Sexual Abuse
In a majority of cases, father-daughter incest is considered a form of sexual abuse. Many of these relationships start before the daughters are of legal age, and the experiences change these daughters in many ways.
For instance, in addition to the above signs a father is grooming his daughter, the girl might seem a little more withdrawn. The girls can also get aggressive for no apparent reason. They can also say their tummies hurt due to the physical abuse they have undergone at the hands of their fathers.
Performance in school can also go down, which is also one of the signs a father might be grooming his daughter for sex or abusing her already. Such girls might also have bruises on certain parts of their bodies such as their thighs. Low self-esteem is also a common sign of sexual abuse among children.
Drug or alcohol use is also likely to be a problem for such girls. These children are also likely to harm themselves or have problems sleeping. Such girls also grow up to be women who have problems with boundaries.
Some Victims Never Know They Were Abused
A lot of children who suffer from sexual abuse from their fathers don't usually realize they were victims. They often feel like they were part of the affairs. Based on the signs a father is grooming his daughter above, it is clear that a young girl might not know what's going on.
She might believe she is having a normal relationship with her father until much later in life. This is after they discover that the things they were taking part in were of a sexual nature.
According to research, incestuous fathers tended to have been abused as children, and their marriages tended to be more tumultuous than fathers who did not get into sexual relationships with their daughters.
So, be on the lookout for the above signs a father is grooming his daughter to help break this vicious cycle of abuse.