Domestic Violence by Proxy
Why Doesn’t Abusive Control End?

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


“Why doesn’t ‘it’ end?” ask domestic abuse survivors worldwide. That’s like questioning, why doesn’t cancer end after it has been diagnosed. Herein lies the answer. It has only been diagnosed. Without proper intervention, domestic violence by proxy progresses in one direction…it continues and it escalates.

This escalation could take on many forms, but nonetheless it has a life of its own…sustaining itself. Identifying it and bringing it to light does absolutely nothing to end the cycle of abuse.

Here are some ways I have observed domestic violence by proxy involving the psychological poisoning/manipulation of children with respect to an alienated parent. The identifying details of these examples have been altered to protect innocent parties involved.

One of these stories is staged using law enforcement and the other implicates a hospital. As I write this article, I find that interesting because batterers are notorious for using these two platforms to discredit victims—criminalizing and pathalogizing them.

1) The Police Story: Your Mother Is a Criminal

Two adult children set out to visit their estranged mother over the Christmas holidays after being apart for over six years. These three people previously fell through the cracks the legal system and became causalities of domestic violence divorce.

From the moment they laid eyes upon each other, you could feel the love brewing amidst the questions, concerns, fears and anxiety. Well into their first meal at a cozy little restaurant off the main strip...the confrontation begins.

The young lads say, “The police left a voicemail on dad’s phone and they are looking for you.” As the convoluted distortion of reality emerged, the adult children were insisting that there was a warrant out for their mother’s arrest. Further embellishing this “story” was the insistence that there was also a “witness” to the crime committed by their mother.

The father wanted the children to believe that the mother stole money from a stranger and was in deep trouble with the law. This became the “cause” for these confused adult children to question whether reconnecting with this criminalized estranged parent was truly in their best interest.

The reality, however, is that there was nothing stolen, no crime and there was no witness. The so-called witness hadn’t been in the identified state for over 20 the police learn through their investigation. What we have instead is a staged effort to sabotage the parent-child reunion and keep the “mommy elimination” game alive.

2) The Hospital Story: Your Mother Is a Ranting Raving Crazy Woman

Now if you think that one was creative, hold on for this...

A young woman in her early twenties reconnected with her estranged mother and all was going well. Four months into their recreating and renewing their long-lost relationship, “cause” is created to abruptly end the parent-child affair.

The adult child is told that her grandmother’s husband called her father bearing important news (six weeks old) regarding her mother even though her mother hasn’t talked with her father in over a decade. This phone conversation led the father to allegedly discover that the mother had been “escorted out of the hospital” where the grandmother rests in elderly illness.

The implication to this story is that the mother is so “out of control” that she required security escort to remove her from the hospital. This piece of information became “cause” for the young woman to place distance from this toxic, volatile parent. Get the picture?

The father conveniently created a “cause” for the adult child to keep the “mommy elimination” game going. This rationale merely supported the underlying issue, which the adult child articulated exquisitely when she announced the desire to terminate contact. She declared, “Having a relationship with you makes dad very sad. And I don’t want to make him unhappy.”

In this vignette, the “cause” clearly supports the agenda of keeping the mommy eliminate game in play. You see…it was all a lie. The mother was not escorted out of the hospital. And the adult child and her siblings were so mesmerized and confused by the allegation that they couldn’t bear to disclose it, much less pursue the truth therein.

All we have here is an effort to control the parent-child relationship. “Why doesn’t it end?” asks domestic violence by proxy survivors worldwide. The answer is because it is still alive. The abusive control dynamics remain intact. And the innocent vulnerably of young adult children who age out of the system is in many respects like that of young children contaminated in domestic violence divorce.

The only thing that truly ends is the way the players interact with the alienating parental control dynamics. The adult children can become more discerning and the alienated parent can become less victimized by the maneuvers to eliminate them from their children’s lives.

For more information about abusive control, visit and get ongoing daily support on ending and healing abuse. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court. © Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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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.