Domestic Violence by Proxy
Healing Parental Estrangement and
Reuniting with Alienated Adult Children

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Domestic violence by proxy and parental alienation are terms that speak to and speak about life pain beyond words. And this is very likely the reason finding the right word may be difficult.

I recently published an article on “The Key to Reuniting Successfully with Your Estranged Children” and the opening keyword in the title was Parental Alienation. Now, in Internet marketing we know that the keyword speaks to the search engine and the rest of the title speaks to your audience. However, in this case the keyword became a stumbling block for those whom have adopted the concept “domestic violence by proxy” over parental alienation.

The Parental Alienation Trigger

You probably know parental alienation as a term that originated out of what people call Richard Gardner’s “junk psychology.” It is a concept used and abused in family court by the father’s rights movement. Simplistically, it is what it says: the alienation of one parent with respect to her/his children by the other parent.

The term parental alienation, in and of itself, is a trigger for those who have been accused of it. Moreover, it is a nightmare trigger for those punished as a result of the accusation. If your children were yanked out of your arms and you pushed out of their lives, all as a result of you being labeled as a parental alienator, then you know what I mean by this trigger effect.

Domestic Violence by Proxy

The leading thinkers in the field of domestic violence and child custody have adopted the term “domestic violence by proxy” to more accurately portray the way batterers use the children as tools to punish and continue to abuse their victims for leaving or for seeking an injunction. The belief is that parental alienation is too weak a term to convey the infraction to the child, to the parent and to the parent-child relationship.

This concept grew out of professional reflections subsequent to my own personal experience with the issue in family court. When people first started using the term, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept. The “by proxy” part of the term was difficult for me to integrate with respect to the implication of parental alienation as I witnessed it in my own estranged children.

Reuniting with Alienated Adult Children

All I knew was that my children were alienated from me and I was alienated from them. And I, as their parent, had to find a way to reunite with them despite the apparent damage done. Domestic violence by proxy doesn’t say to me what happened to my children, but parental alienation does, indeed, point to the tragedy of my suffering alienated sons.

Fast-forward a handful of years with me... Today, two of my three adult children have moved to the state where I reside and my third son is on the way. Now, I am blessed with an opportunity to learn how to step back into the shoes of being a parent to my adult sons.

It has been and continues to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life...just as bringing them home from the hospital when they were born. I assume it can be the same for you.

Pseudo Alienation Verses Authentic Union

What I have discovered is that the estrangement is permeable and the union is rock-solid. When you work from what’s rock-solid, you develop the authenticity of your parent-child relationship. And this, over time, offsets and heals the alienation.

For more information about healing from domestic violence, visit and claim your Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.