Monday, February 20, 2012

What is Emotional Incest?

I was recently made aware of a form of abuse that I hadn't even known existed; sure I have known about verbal abuse, emotional abuse and of course the widest known form of abuse, physical abuse. I just had never, ever heard of the term emotional incest, yet it's a very common form of abuse. This is a form of abuse where a parent basically treats a child as if the child were their "surrogate spouse" or peer. The adult parent often is found emotionally dumping on the child, basically involving the child in adult emotions, situations and issues that the parent is struggling with.

Emotional incest is hard to prove, for the effects are not usually recognized until later on in life when the child being abused in this way is an adult. At times, from what others have shared with me, emotional abuse is also called "grooming" where one is grooming the child for the real incest one thinks of that is physical in form and makes me sick to my stomach even typing the words. Although not all emotional incest turns to physical, it has and can happen in some cases.

Usually emotional incest occurs when a parent is not having their emotional needs met by an adult partner in their life, the person doing the emotional incest abuse may be a single parent or married, there is no real underlying fact that says it must be a single parent. Based on my research on this subject emotional incest is something that can occur between same gender parents with same gender child or opposite genders and it really plays a key emotional role in how the child ends up dealing with relationships as they get older. Basically this messes up a child's emotional well being forever, if proper therapy is not put in place.

Emotional incest is about as hard to prove as emotional/verbal abuse because it's all about a child's feelings, and all too often the child being emotional abused like this has a love/hate relationship with that parent. Think about your real life marriage or love life, do you occasionally get upset with your partner? Are there times when you know for a fact that you truly love them? Well that is what emotional incest is all about, a child being treating by a parent as if they were their partner in life, but it does NOT include the physical side of a relationship - it's strictly a form of emotional abuse, all in the mind.

Emotional incest is serious and it's now my mission to start bringing more awareness to this subject because it's vitally important we, as a nation of parents, protect our future generation. If you are going through this, have gone through this or know someone who has, then it's time to step up and get on board with protecting through compassion and help get society more aware that emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. Just because you can't "SEE" the scars does NOT mean that abuse isn't happening, listen to the voices of those who are in an emotionally abusive relationship and see just how that person who is abusing them affects that child or adults response to life situations. It's a sad, devastating thing that is happening and being hushed by many, it happens behind closed doors where no one can see and it's time to stand up and end all forms of abuse on our loved ones!

To learn more about emotional incest please read this article by Debra Kaplan, a psychotherapist.