Domestic Violence by Proxy
Adult Children Casualties

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

It is the children of domestic violence by proxy that are the true casualties of this social disease. Usually they don’t know who they are, until it is too late.

They live in the shadow of their domineering parent, until the day comes when they awaken to the fact that they do not know who they are. They spend their lives playing into the hand of their abusive parent just to keep peace, all while believing that it is for the good of themselves and for the family. These are the children of domestic violence by proxy.

Sometimes they show up in their mid 30’s or 40’s with stress-related medical disease. Or, they may end up in the system in their 20’s replaying their abusive parent’s history of domestic violence.

Occasionally, the system will trip them up and they end up with a criminal record. Or, it may be a misdemeanor resulting from their controlling parent’s successful manipulation of the system.

They are children of the family violence lineage who failed to break free. They spend their lives seeing their estranged parent only as their controlling parent sees. These are the children of domestic violence by proxy.

Traumatic Loss and Traumatic Bonding

I am often asked by survivors how you know if a child of domestic violence by proxy will break free or remain under the bondage of their controlling parent’s persistent poisoning?

That’s such a hard question to answer without having a crystal ball. However, we can make predictions based on other circumstances in the lives of domestic violence by proxy children.

For example, if a child weathers the initial trauma of being severed from their protective parent during a developmental milestone associated with heightened parental bonding, they could have a more difficult time than children outside of these delicate years.

When the child is denied access to the protective parent, they suffer the consequences of this loss and transfer it in the form of “traumatic bonding” with the abusive parent.

These children see life from the eyes of their controlling parent to the exclusion of finding their own vision, their own inner world. They can grow up walking in the shoes of the abusive parent foregoing the creation of their own dreams.

These adult children can remain as victims of domestic violence by proxy indefinitely. They can be told that it makes the abusive parent “sad” to know that they are having contact with their estranged parent. And that knowledge alone can be enough for them to end a new developing relationship…actively continuing their deprivation of the natural parent in their lives.

I have seen children with clear functional amnesia in which they have no memories other than those created and re-created by the controlling parent. These children successfully re-program who and what they are outside as well as within.

If you have a child that is a victim of domestic violence by proxy, understand the dynamics that they live from their perspective, given their life circumstances. You will not only serve them, you will serve yourself as you do.

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© 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.