We Are Survivors 

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Family Dynamics of Incest - Part 4

I am now going to talk about two types of mothers in incestuous households: the woman who is a nonparticipant and the other who engages in incest herself.[1] They both are guilty of profound neglect and abuse. To actually commit these acts of omission and commission involves a level of unbelievable denial and lack of any human regard for their children.

Nonparticipating MothersJust as men have pathological traits, so do women. Four types of women are described below where incest occurs in the home.

  • Dependent:  Women in this category have a very high need to be taken care of. They don’t know how to get their needs met and abdicate their role as a mother. They turn to their daughter to take care of them, to give them the nurturing they never received as a child. This role-reversal is dangerous as it sets her daughter up to fulfill her father’s sexual needs.
  • Mom:  This category of women don’t want sex with their husbands, they just want these men dependent on them. Their role as “Mom” is to be the caretaker of the whole family and nothing else. This frees the fathers to believe they have no other choice but to have sex with their daughter.
  • Submissive: This type of woman is totally dependent upon her husband. She is usually married to the “Tyrant” husband who rules with and iron-hand.  To ensure that she remains dependent, she is not allowed to work or socialize as that may threaten his authority. Any sign of independence by his wife is threatening. Incest, thus, occurs with the daughter as described in Part 3under “Tyrant” fathers.
  • Cooperative:  This type of nonparticipating mother is a person who is psychologically and emotionally unavailable. She is sometimes physically absent as well by working long hours at her job. She may have some knowledge of her husband’s incestuous behavior, but puts it out of her mind and continues living in her own world. The daughter is sacrificed to her father.

Incestuous Mothers:  There are families where the husband is away from home for long periods of time, so a mother may start having her son sleep with her to maintain her need to feel physically close to someone. The need is at first a psychological one, but can develop into a sexual relationship. If the son is told to be the “man of the house” and has the need to get his affectionate needs met as well, the sexual contact may grow into a misguided emotional support system. The reality, though, is that the woman is an adult engaging in criminal behavior. The son becomes confused, angry, and feels shamed and full of guilt as he gets older. It is very disturbing behavior with tremendous psychological consequences for the young man.

[1] Patricia W. Crigler, Insight in the Military Family, in Kaslow et al, The Military Family, pp. 98-124

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Family Dynamics of Incest - Part 3
Family Dynamics of Incest - Part 5


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