WARNING: This post deals with incest and abuse. Some readers might find it triggering.
This woman’s account of her sexual relationship with her father is a deeply confronting story of incest.
Natasha, who met her biological father for the first time at the age of 19, said that the attraction was instant:
My biological father wanted to have sex with me from the first moment he laid eyes on me. This I learned two years after meeting him, as I dry heaved over his toilet in a moment of all-consuming anxiety and self-loathing. This was just after the second time we had oral sex.
According to Natasha, their first meeting was followed by a “two-year seduction” before their relationship became physical.
Before that, there had been many clues that their relationship was very different to the ones shared by other fathers and daughters, such a sharing a bed, openly discussing sexual encounters and watching porn.
But despite these red flags, Natasha was still surprised and horrified to realise she was sexually attracted to her father and initially tried to ignore her feelings.
Once they had begun their sexual relationship though, Natasha said she was filled with shame and loathing.
We had oral sex a few times, almost always preceded by my descending into a whirlwind of self-hate and disgust and dry heaving over the toilet in the bathroom…I felt so powerless that I begged him to stop me from initiating, and for him to stop initiating too. He agreed, did neither, and I remained horrifically and self-destructively unable to resist.
After seeking therapy, Natasha now realises she was the victim of her father’s abuse, and that genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is believed to be relatively common among close family members who meet as adults.
The finals words belong to Natasha herself, who is finally healing from her experience:
Genetic sexual attraction is normal, and very real. If it is a parent-child relationship, the parent, whether male or female, is always responsible for establishing and maintaining boundaries. Failing that, they are sexual abusers. And to the victims of their abuse, I want to say what I have finally been able to understand myself: that my attraction, and what it led to, was not my fault.
What is ‘Genetic Sexual Attraction’?
Although the above story may surprise you, there may actually be a scientific or sociological basis for sexual attraction between relatives who meet in adulthood for the first time.
As a 2011 University of Illinois study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found, people appear to be drawn to others who resemble their kin or themselves — with those findings leading psychologist RC Fraley to speculate: “It is possible [that] as Freud suggested, incest taboos exist to counter this primitive tendency.”
The phrase Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA), coined by adoption support group founder Barbara Gonyo, is sometimes used to describe the sudden feelings of attraction to a sibling or parent after a family reunion. The Guardian reports that, while the frequency of GSA cases is difficult to quantify, some post-adoption agencies estimate that elements of GSA occur in a shocking 50% of reunions.
As Gonyo argues in her book I’m his Mother but he’s not my Son, sexual attraction between relatives may be a byproduct of “missed bonding” that would have normally taken place between family members had they not been separated.
GSA may also be explained by the “Westermarck” effect — named after sociologist Edward Westermarck — which holds that people living in close domestic proximity during the early years of life are desensitised to sexual attraction later in life.
Relatives who don’t live together miss out on the the daily events that prevent such attraction from occurring– so that, in effect, the ‘Westermarck’ effect doesn’t have a chance to work in those situations, as Canadian GSA expert and counsellor Dianne Mathes told CBC News.
If this post brings up any issues for you, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14.