UPDATE: Link to donate to Suzan Delbene, Koster's opponent: LINK
Republican Congressional candidate John Koster claimed incest is rare in his attempt to support his view that abortion should not be available for women raped by their family members. I know many of you may have seen this already at this recommended diary by newyorkknewyork, but I felt I needed to respond personally to Mr. Koster. Here's the audio of his statement:
You see I know of many cases of incest, so it isn't rare to me. For those with little stomach for the details of the women I describe below, all people I know, please read no further.
My first wife was a victim of incest as was her older sister. Her father raped them anally so they would not get pregnant. He was an alcoholic. He was also the minister of the church my family attended, and no one knew, for he was universally admired because he was such a good preacher. The incest went on for years.
My great-grandfather, also a minister, and a butcher by trade during the week, had thirteen children, eleven who lived. After his wife died in childbirth he began raping his daughters. Most still at home left the farm where they lived as soon as possible. My grandmother stayed behind. She never admitted to us whether she was also a victim, but I have my suspicions. My great aunts only told us of his rapes of them after he died.
I worked as a counselor for emotionally disturbed adolescents after I received my undergraduate degree. I specifically worked at one place where six teenage girls resided together, the oldest 15 and the youngest twelve. Four had been raped by relatives, either fathers or step-fathers. One 12 year-old was pregnant at the time I worked there, as a result of rape by her father. Twelve years old, Mr Koster. And no, she wasn't permitted the choice to abort the child. Her parents would not consent.
I know of another woman, a friend of mine, who was raped by her brother over a period of 3 years beginning at the age of nine. As a result of the physical trauma she suffered, she cannot have children.
I imagine I've known many other incest victims in my lifetime who did not reveal that they had been raped by relatives. Incest is a highly under-reported crime. However, the studies that have been done paint a picture that incest is far from an uncommon occurrence for women in the United States. A 2006 study found a rate of child sexual abuse of 27.9% in two parent families of both black and white women. Studies of incest rates of in the US as of 1991 found that:
[T]he studies report childhood memories of contact sexual molestation at rates ranging from 6 to 45 percent for women and from 3 to 30 percent for men.
The lower incidence figures in these studies turn out to be due to the method used in compiling them, As one moves from the lower to the higher figures, one discovers that the interview techniques begin to acknowledge the resistances of the respondents to such emotional questions. The lower figures are in response to written questionnaires or brief telephone calls, contacts that were considered intrusive by the respondent, while the higher figures, such as those of Wyatt and Russell (48) were the result of carefully structured face-to-face interviews lasting from one to eight hours.(49) [...]
Yet even these astonishingly high figures are only a portion of the hidden true incidence rates. Four additional factors raise the actual rates even higher:
- The groups interviewed do not include many people in the American population who have far higher than average sexual molestation experiences, including institutionalized criminals, prostitutes, juveniles in shelters and psychotics (52),
- the studies only count admissions to the interviewer of abuse, and it is unlikely that no conscious memories were ever suppressed during the interviews,
- a large percent of each study refused to be interviewed, and these may have been the most victimized of all,(53) and
- most importantly, these studies include only clear conscious memories of events-unconscious memories, which are usually only uncovered during psychotherapy, would increase these rates.
So, Mr. Koster is talking out of his anal orifice. Incest, based on my personal experience with the women who have shared their stories of incest, and based on the best available statistics we have on the matter, is not rare in the United States. Tragically, it is a all too common experience.
I understand Mr. Koster opposes a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. That is his right to hold and speak out about his views on the subject. But to make such untrue, inaccurate and misleading statements regarding incest among women in order to support his claim that abortion should not be available for women is an insult to those who have suffered from incest or who know of and care about victims of incest. The effects of incest last a lifetime.
Mr Koster's party affiliation means nothing to me in this matter. Any Democrats who hold the same views, and use the same "incest is rare" argument to promote their own social policy goals, also deserve our scorn. We know from the scandals in the Catholic Church that many instances of childhood sexual abuse were covered up, or that the victims were too ashamed to come forward. Imagine yourself, if you can as a child who is being sexually abused. Who do you tell when your own family members are perpetrating these crimes.? Who do you blame in these situations? As an adult, to whom do you fell comfortable sharing these horrific intimate details of your life? Most women never talk about what happened to them as children, of the sexual abuse by a father, brother, cousin or uncle because it is too painful, they feel too ashamed, they don't want to stir up trouble in their family or they simply don't want to re-live those painful experiences by revealing them to other people, even their partners and significant other.
Mr. Koster, I demand you apologize to everyone who has ever been sexually abused by a parent, sibling, or other relative. Your ignorant, (at that being generous on my part) comments are beyond offensive. They are a slur on every incest victim, and rub salt in psychological and physical wounds that will never truly heal.