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Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives[1][2] that is illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is socially taboo. The type of sexual activity and the nature of the relationship between people that constitutes a breach of law or social taboo vary with culture and jurisdiction. Some societies consider incest to include only those who live in the same household, or who belong to the same clan or lineage; other societies consider it to include "blood relatives"; other societies further include those related by adoption or marriage.[3]

Incest between adults and those under the age of majority or age of consent is considered a form of child sexual abuse[4][5] that has been shown to be one of the most extreme forms of childhood abuse, often resulting in serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.[6] Prevalence is difficult to generalize, but research has estimated 10–15% of the general population as having at least one incest experience, with less than 2% involving intercourse or attempted intercourse.[7] Among women, research has yielded estimates as high as twenty percent.[6]

Father-daughter incest was for many years the most commonly reported and studied form of incest.[8] More recently, studies have suggested that sibling incest, particularly older brothers abusing younger siblings, is the most common form of incest,[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] with some studies finding sibling incest occurring orders of magnitude more frequently than other forms of incest.[18] Some studies suggest that adolescent perpetrators of sibling incest abuse younger victims, abuse victims over a lengthier period, use violence more frequently and severely than adult perpetrators;[19] and that sibling incest has a higher rate of penetrative acts than father or stepfather incest, with father and older brother incest resulting in greater reported distress than stepfather incest.[20][21][22]

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