Meet The Man Who's Married And In Love With His Biological Sister

The two claim they're in love, but they're actually secretly siblings.

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Love is such a rare and elusive thing that one wonders if it's ever truly wrong. Well, there is a kind of love that's not only wrong but illegal: incest.

There are varying degrees of unacceptability with incest.

Obviously, if it involves a child, it's abuse, but if the incestuous relationship is between two first cousins or consenting adults, what does that fall under?

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In a 2015 Vice article, writer Jennifer Tillman spoke to a man named Tom via Skype. Tom (whose name had been changed) has been in a committed relationship with his sister for over 20 years and they have a child together.

During the interview, Tom wears a hat and dark sunglasses to protect his identity.

He said, "I'm scared of people finding me disgusting. There's nothing that I haven't heard before. People have called me a desecrator, sister-f***er, or simply stupid. And all that's come out of the mouths of people who were at one time, my friends."

Tom and his sister Lena grew up in a large house — the kind of fairytale-looking house one would expect to find in a small Austrian village.


By all accounts, their family was fairly normal ... or, at least, looked that way.

Tom and Lena's parents were concerned with the way things appeared and discouraged their children from exhibiting any public displays of emotions.

The people of Austria are generally very formal, conservative, and disciplined, and keep their lives very compartmentalized. 

As he was growing up, Tom began to see that he was different from his parents, neighbors, and friends and that Lena was, too.

"I started getting real feelings for her when we both entered puberty," said Tom.

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"She was blossoming. Sometimes I would watch her getting dressed in her room and always felt ashamed of myself afterward."


Lena would admit later that she would leave her bedroom door open on purpose so that he could observe her. 

Tom tried to convince himself that what he felt was just natural curiosity about the feminine form, but his feelings and attraction for his sister grew.

Every time Lena got a boyfriend, Tom hated them.

After being together for three years, Lena's boyfriend cheated on her. Devastated, Lena went to Tom's room for comfort. After a few glasses of wine, Lena kissed him. Horrified, Tom rejected her screaming, "What the hell are we doing?" 

After thinking about their situation non-stop, Tom finally came to the conclusion that what he and his sister felt for each other was a deeper love than what a sibling usually feels for another.


Eventually, the two started sleeping together, which wasn't just consummating their love but was breaking the law. 

Incest is illegal in many places, but not everywhere. Incest is legal in New Jersey. 

In Austria, it's a crime; incest between parents and children is punishable by up to a year in prison, and incest between siblings can result in six months behind bars.

Patrick Stübing (who had four children with his sister) challenged Germany's incest laws in court in 2008, but the German judicial system decided that the law should stand. 

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The court said that maintaining a diverse gene pool was in the best interest of public health, laws against incest can protect vulnerable people from trauma that can arise even from consensual acts, and that decriminalizing the incest law could send the wrong message to the public.

Tom and Lena now live in Germany with their daughter.

They live a quiet life, as they don't want to draw any attention to themselves.


On their daughter's birth certificate, the father is listed as unknown.

"We didn't want to risk anything," Tom said. "There's no way I'll let them put me in prison and take me away from my family."

One of the problems with relatives reproducing with each other is there's a high chance the offspring will be born with a birth defect.

Tom and Lena are lucky since their daughter appears to be very healthy. But would all incestuous couples be so lucky?

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.