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Covert incest. When a parent uses a child to fulfil an adult emotional support role that should be filled by another adult; partner, friend, family or therapist.

[–] ProxyMusic 41 points Edited

But in this case, the incest is overt, not covert. The woman is saying out loud on social media that her 8 year-old daughter is her deceased husband and that the mother relies on the little girl for the sort of love, care, understanding, connection, support and practical assistance that adults customarily get - or hope to get from other adults who are partners, spouses or romantic love interests - or who are in the other types of roles you mention, or are hired helpers like home health aides, personal assistants and domestic servants.

Emotional incest isn't necessarily covert incest. In fact, the opposite is frequently the case. Emotional incest is often very blatant and public. Many abusers do it out in the open not just where others can - put so others can see. People who engage in emotional incest frequently flaunt these types of inappropriate relationships because they want others to witness and know what they are doing.

[–] SecondSkin 13 points Edited

The term is used to describe emotional incest that doesn’t include sexual abuse. It wasn’t meant whether it’s seen on social media or not. It’s not some technically accurate medical term, just the term that gets used to describe emotional incest among survivors and those who support them.

*there are plenty of mothers around the world who will rely on their children for care, that would be preferable from a hca or adult family. Young carers exist in developed and developing countries, and always have. There are plenty mothers who will have no choice but to rely on their child to be a young carer, but who do so in a way that doesn’t place the child in the role an adult should fill. Where the mother isn’t sharing adult worries or still tries to prioritise the child’s childhood and normal child needs and experiences as far as is possible. This is a basic fact of life for many families around the world, without the mother being at all abusive. Which is why covert incest was the term coined- because it’s clear what is and what isn’t sexual abuse/incest. And it’s not as clear cut with emotional incest. Which can make it even more difficult for the victim to identify as abuse (as they heal as an adult). The term covert works for survivors because it describes how it’s difficult to pin point as abuse.

I know that's what the term was coined to describe originally. But I thought that the meaning quickly expanded to include a range of physical behaviors that often go on between family members that are inappropriate too, but which fall short of the traditional meaning of incest. Traditionally incest meant behaviors that involving sexual touching (and especially intercourse) between family members or other overtly sexual behaviors that didn't involve necessarily involve physical sexual contact between the abuser and abused (such as when parents show their kids porn, or fathers take their teenage sons to prostituted women and force the boys to have sex with the women whilst the fathers watch or wait in the next room).

Covert incest can involve a variety of behaviors in families, such as when parents don't allow their children physical privacy or boundaries from the parents - or don't allow the children physical privacy from one another. Like when fathers make their older daughters sit in their laps against the girls' will; when parents and grand partents force their kids and grand kids to give hugs and kisses to various adults when the kids don't want to; and when fundamentalist Christian families make their daughters take "purity pledges" and go to purity balls as their fathers' dates. Like when mothers insist on still wiping the bottoms and being involved in the toilet activities of their kids when the kids are well past the age when they need such assistance; demanding that their kids sleep with them when the kids are too old for "attachment parenting" and don't want to be in "the family bed" anymore; taking their 8, 9, 10 year old sons with them into ladies loos and locker rooms. And as when parents walk around naked or inappropriately dressed in front of kids when the kids are too old for that, or they make their kids come into the bathroom at home with them whilst dad is on the can or mom is having a soak in the bathtub.

Covert incest can also refer to situations where parents/adults in households don't allow children and teens privacy and boundaries from their siblings or other kids in the house. Like when parents make all their kids take a bath together even when some of the kids are too old. Or making girls and boys share bedrooms, or telling girls they have no right to privacy from the peeping and other intrusive behaviors of their brothers, male cousins, uncles, etc. There's a poster on Ovarit who says that when she's in her bedroom in her parents' house where she lives, she frequently is distressed by the sounds of her brother watching porn and masturbating in his bedroom next to hers - but her complaints to her parents have fallen on deaf ears. In my opinion, she is being subjected to a form of covert incest.