Covert incest, also known as emotional incest or enmeshment, is a form of dysfunctional relationship between a parent or caregiver and a child. Unlike overt incest, covert incest does not involve sexual contact or sexual abuse.
In covert incest, the parent or caregiver relies on the child for emotional support and companionship that should be provided by another adult. The parent may share inappropriate personal information with the child or expect the child to fulfill a spouse-like role, such as acting as a confidant or emotional surrogate.
Covert incest can result in the child feeling responsible for the parent’s emotional well-being, causing them to sacrifice their own needs and desires to meet the parent’s demands. The child may also struggle with boundaries and have difficulty developing healthy relationships in adulthood.
The impact of covert incest can be long-lasting and can affect the child’s emotional and psychological development. It is important for those who have experienced covert incest to seek professional help, such as therapy, to address the psychological and emotional effects of the abuse and to develop healthier relationship patterns.