This unique and objective book considers the phenomenon of incest and its relation to the sexual abuse of children from the perspective of social anthropology. Jean La Fontaine assesses the myths and realities surrounding the abuser as well as the abused. She shows how `explanations' such as the child's sexual behaviour, children's fantasies and the relationship between parents and children have been used to deny the occurrence of sexual abuse. By examining definitions of child sexual abuse in the law, definitions used by social workers, psychologists and by abused adults and children themselves, La Fontaine highlights the obstacles which abused children often face when trying to bring the abuse out into the open. The book also looks at the consequences of abuse for family relations, the abused child and the child's future. Throughout the study she stresses how the burden of guilt is shifted on to the child by many of the agencies and people involved. In her conclusion, La Fontaine asks how we can determine and allocate responsibility in highly problematic circumstances. This challenging study presents a reappraisal of a highly disturbing and complex area.