Incest is a crime in most countries, but since it usually takes place in private, it is not easily discovered and prosecuted. Most cases of incest that do come before a criminal court involve fathers and their young daughters. In some cases, the girls have not even reached puberty. However, this usually does not mean that the father is a pedophile. (The exceptions are pedophiles who marry a woman for the purpose of getting close to her children.) As a rule, the father simply takes advantage of a defenseless and easily available sexual object. And this is indeed how he treats his child - as an object of his egotistical desire. He may use flattery, promises, deception, intimidation, coercion, threats or even outright force, and if the incest remains undiscovered, it may continue for years.
For the daughter, the experience is almost always psychologically devastating. It may take her many years to overcome her trauma, if she succeeds in this at all. She may also blame her mother – sometimes with good reason – for having “looked the other way” and having failed to help her. All in all, father-daughter incest creates an intolerable situation within a family. (Mother-son incest may have less serious consequences, but is, in any case, quite rare.)
Some families are, for a variety of reasons, reluctant to report the crime. They may need their breadwinner, fear the inevitable scandal, or hope to “handle it themselves”. Certainly, a trial and a conviction are not sufficient to resolve such a case. All family members, including the father, need psychological help if they are ever to regain a minimum of mutual trust. Very often, however, their relationship is damaged beyond repair.