Is Abuse by Proxy Real?

Abuse by proxy is another term for the emotional abuse that occurs in domestic and intimate partner violence. This emotional abuse occurs when an abuser inflicts harm upon the victim through third parties.

Examples of abuse by proxy include spreading lies about the victim to their friends and family, sabotaging their career by communicating with their employer and even calling upon the authorities equipped with false information.

The perpetrator may turn the victims’ children against them in some circumstances. Each of these example’s functions as a way to intimidate, isolate and inflict punishment upon the victim. Sometimes this form of abuse can result in humiliation, thus resulting in the victim’s self-esteem becoming significantly impacted.

It is worth noting that abuse by proxy is an under-researched phenomenon, with minimal scholarly articles recognizing this form of emotional abuse under the term abuse by proxy. Due to this, we will explore abuse by proxy in this article through the lens of domestic and narcissistic abuse.

Domestic Violence and Abuse by Proxy

Domestic Violence and Abuse by Proxy

Domestic and intimate partner violence is an issue that impacts up to 10 million people every year. Unfortunately, it is often underreported, and thus many go without accessing the care and support they need.

Furthermore, many can overlook emotional abuse within domestic and intimate partner violence. A way to increase knowledge about the different forms of domestic abuse is to examine the more unknown forms of abuse.

A common form of emotional violence that occurs in abusive relationships is isolation. An abusive partner accomplishes this by sabotaging the victim’s closest relationships.

An example of this could be destroying the victim’s work equipment or telling mutual friends that the victim is “crazy.” This allows the perpetrator to enlist others to perpetuate the abuse, making it harder for the victim to spot the abuse and ultimately seek help.

Signs of Abuse by Proxy

Once you know the signs of abuse by proxy, it is much easier to get help for yourself or a loved one. Signs of this type of emotional abuse include:

-Loss of power and control
-A sense of entrapment within the relationship
-Feeling unsafe or that danger is imminent
-Receiving consistent ridicule from your partner
-Feeling dominated and intimidated by your partner
-Experiencing issues instigated by your partner in your relationships with your employer, community, friends, and family

If you feel that a loved one’s partner is utilizing this form of emotional abuse within the relationship, you can reflect some of these signs on your loved one. Of course, speaking up won’t guarantee that they will get help, but it could be incredibly healing to have their experience validated, which ultimately could result in them getting the help they need.

Impact of Abuse by Proxy

Emotional abuse can lead to intense and long-lasting effects, including emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

Such abuse isn’t only harmful to the victim. It can be detrimental to children in the household, regardless of whether the child was directly involved in the abuse. It can also lead them to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioral disorders, and physical symptoms like bedwetting and diarrhea.

How to Get Help

One of the most complex parts of emotional abuse is that it undercuts one’s self-esteem, making it harder to seek help.

First and foremost, remember that someone who loves you would never work to have others harm you. Reaching out to the Domestic Violence Hotline is a way to start turning towards help. Not only can they help you identify the type of abuse you’re experiencing, but they also have a wealth of resources, including support groups and shelters, that can aid in getting you help as soon as possible.

Healing From Abuse by Proxy

Healing is possible. It is imperative to remember that having your community turned against you is not a regular occurrence in healthy relationships. It isn’t uncommon to be gaslit by perpetrators of abuse by proxy.

Let this article serve as an unshakable reminder that you deserve safety, healthy connections, and security. Seek out a support group, local resources in your area, and a trusted psychotherapist to get you help.