I had sex with my stepmother. Should I tell my father and did we break any incest laws?


I am 22 years old and my father is out of town a lot, so me and my stepmom went out drinking and got a little too drunk and ended up having sex. Should I tell my dad and did we break any incest laws by doing so?
James

Hi James,

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately you seem to be involved in a very complex and complicated situation, for which there will be no easy solutions. I would like to address firsthand the legal aspects of your question. The definition of incest, although it varies according to different resources usually refers to sexual intercourse or other sexualized behavior between blood relatives. Thus the laws of many U.S. states and Canadian provinces recognize two separate degrees of incest, the more serious being the closest blood relationships, such as father–daughter, mother–son, and brother–sister, with the less serious charge being pressed against more distantly related individuals who engage in sexual intercourse, including first cousins and sometimes half-siblings and half-cousins. Because there is no blood relationship between you and your stepmother, I believe you are not breaking any laws. Of note, incest laws seem to focus mainly on vaginal penetration as the main sexual act, and does not address directly other sexual behavior such as oral sex and foreplay.

Secondly, although there is no set age of majority throughout Canada (the age of majority is generally fixed by each province), it is indicated in the Quebec Civil Code that the age of majority is of eighteen (18) years old. Therefore, as you are 22 years old and have reached the age of maturity, you stepmother cannot be accused of sexual abuse of a minor. Of note, while in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, the age of majority is also eighteen (18) years old, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northwest territories and Yukon, have chosen 19 years old as the age of majority.

Contrarily to the legal aspects of your situation, there is no clear-cut or final answer to the question of disclosing this event to your father. You should discuss this issue with your stepmother and try to decide together what is the best option for your family. You can then avoid a very uncomfortable situation in which you and your stepmother mutually suspect each other of having disclosed information to your father. Also, if this is truly only an isolated event, it does not absolutely have to be disclosed to your father. However, it is necessary for your stepmother and your father to have an honest discussion about the various problems in their relationship. Usually, two responsible adults in a healthy and happy relationship rarely find themselves in such a situation. For example, your stepmother may be unhappy about your father always being away. She can also have doubts about his loyalty and may suspect infidelity. Of course, I cannot presume to know what exactly has motivated her to get involved in this.

On the other hand, you may also question yourself, and wonder why this happened: are you also angry at your father for being absent? Do you feel lonely? Do you have any problems socially, or in terms of your romantic relationships? Was it just an impulsive act, or are you still attracted to your stepmother?

If your stepmother and your father cannot or do not initiate a proper discussion about the goals, objectives and meaning of their relationship, and do not also involve you in this discussion, this highly emotional situation will probably not get resolved. In that case, you may want to contact a family mediation organization, such as Family Mediation Canada, where lawyers, social workers, human services and health care professionals, working together, aim to provide co-operative family conflict resolution. This organization help families by providing information and referrals to Family Mediators across Canada.

In addition, if you are attending university or college, there is usually a school psychologist and/or social worker, who can listen to you, offer useful advice and insights and accompany you through this difficult situation. These professionals are bound to confidentiality: you can therefore safely disclose information. It is important that you do not remain alone in this situation, as it may rapidly become very stressful, painful or guilt-inducing for you, if it is not already the case. Remember that no one in particular is to be blamed for this event, but that your family, if it is to survive as it is now, needs to adequately face the various problems, in the relationships between your stepmother and your father, you and your father and you and your stepmother, which have led to the present situation.

I truly hope this will help you and your family resolve this conflict. Again, it is not a decision that you have to, or should take alone. Get help and support, and give yourself time…

Please contact us again if you need further help with this issue, or have other questions…

Vi, for AlterHeros

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