The prevalence and seriousness of incestuous abuse: stepfathers vs. biological fathers

Child Abuse Negl. 1984;8(1):15-22. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(84)90045-0.


Analysis of interviews obtained from a random sample of 930 adult women in San Francisco revealed that 17% or one out of approximately every six women who had a stepfather as a principal figure in her childhood years, was sexually abused by him. The comparable figures for biological fathers were 2% or one out of approximately 40 women. In addition, when a distinction was made between Very Serious Sexual Abuse (including experiences ranging from forced penile-vaginal penetration to non-forceful attempted fellatio, cunnilingus , and anal intercourse) and other less serious forms, 47% of the cases of sexual abuse by stepfathers were at the Very Serious level of violation compared with 26% by biological fathers. Possible explanations for these starting discrepancies are discussed, and some of the implications for remarriage are considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adoption
  • Adult
  • California
  • Child Abuse*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incest*
  • Legal Guardians*