Domestic Violence by Proxy
Parent-Child Relationship Death by Hearsay
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
If you know domestic violence by proxy, then you know the threat of, or the experience of, parent-child relationship "death by hearsay." We see the world through the expectations we project. And these expectations are the sum of beliefs, precepts and biases that we acquire throughout life.
Children of domestic violence by proxy are fed loads of false information about the estranged parent. Even though they know on a deeper level that the foul representations are inaccurate, they grow to buy into the beliefs bestowed upon them. It’s how we as human beings resolve the cognitive dissidence.
Domestic Violence by Proxy and Cognitive Dissidence
The term cognitive dissidence is a psychological term referring to the state of internal stress evolving out of a discrepancy between one’s beliefs, feelings and actions. When there is a disparity between our beliefs, feelings and actions, and they are not in sync, we experience a state of inner stress. That is the cognitive dissidence.
The natural tendency of our system is to eliminate stress, and we do this by bringing the points of disparity into harmony. With respect to domestic violence by proxy, this generally means seeing the estranged parent through the eyes of the controlling parent...that is through the filter of the abusive parent’s point of view.
Maintaining the Hearsay
Children of domestic violence by proxy grow up to expect the estranged parent to match their internalized beliefs, and they interact with them from their well-rooted acquired belief system.
For example, let’s say that your children are brainwashed to believe that you abandoned them, failed to care for them ...and bottom line, don’t “really” love them. As young adults they interact with you as though these internalized beliefs are factual.
Prejudice and Domestic Violence by Proxy
It is not that much different than individuals holding racial prejudice or other biases pertaining to religious affiliation or sexual preference. The way this plays out is as follows...
A specific interaction between the estranged parent and child is interpreted to be verification of the precepts, biases and beliefs that the child has held onto as his/her own. In other words, the child will use what he/she “perceives” to substantiate the hearsay misrepresentations of the estranged parent. (This parent is not doing ABC, therefore they are continuing not to care for me.) Doing this keeps him/her from stirring cognitive dissidence.
The substantiated misrepresentations add to the collection of data that is the source of “death by hearsay.” The unfortunate thing about this fact is that the child interacts with and through the offending parents precepts...making them more deeply embedded as his/her own.
Death by Hearsay
The concept death by hearsay refers to the death of the parent-child relationship as a result of chronic hearsay. So, the question you might ask yourself is how do you question the hearsay without exacerbating the child’s internal stress?
Each parent and child victim of domestic violence by proxy will need to find their own unique way to mend mixed memories and troubled waters. What I do know is that the clearer you are about the dynamics of this aftermath, the better you will be in dealing with and healing the underlying roots of parent-child relationship death by hearsay.
For ongoing support in healing from abusive relationships, visit http://www.domesticabusesupport.org and get access to online professional insights. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide 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.