Dealing with Emotional Abuse (Abuse by Proxy)

Dealing with Emotional Abuse (Abuse by Proxy)

Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse is also referred as Abuse by proxy that is witnessed in the intimate partner and domestic violence or abuse. This kind of abuse takes place when the harm is inflicted by the abuser through third parties towards the victim. Physical, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse is a part of intimate, partner or domestic violence that is encountered between parents/caregivers and children or intimate partners. Examples of emotional abuse consist of circulating false information or lies about the victim to their loved ones, calling upon the authorities with untruthful or insincere information, and also destroying the career of the victim by conversing with their employer(s). The bully or perpetrators might even turn the children of victims against them in certain situations. 

Each action of the abuser is targeted to cause harm, isolate, and make the victim fearful; which ultimately can result in feelings of humiliation and lowering their self-esteem which influences the victims severely. It is essential to note that the term abuse by proxy is an under-researched concept, with limited articles by scholars identifying this type of emotional abuse. Thus, in this article to understand this concept, the perspective of narcissistic and domestic abuse will be further explored. 

Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse:

Domestic violence and intimate partner violence is a concern that influences the lives of millions every year. Sadly, cases of this kind of violence are not reported and thus, they are not able to get the help, support, care, and assistance that they need. Besides this many people fail to understand emotional abuse in intimate partner violence and domestic violence. Isolate is the most common way of emotional abuse in relationships that include violence and abuse. This is achieved by the abuser by ruining the closest relationships of the victim.

An instance of this would be informing the family or friends of the victim that they are out of control, or vandalizing the work of the victim. This kind of activity by the abuser prolongs the nature of abuse by including others as well, thus, making it tougher for the victim to notice the abuse and ask for help or assistance. This all leads to giving the perpetrator more command over the life of the victim.

Association of Narcissism with Emotional Abuse:

Research has represented that the ones who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have traits that orient with the characteristics of that person who causes intimate partner abuse. Thus, associating abuse by proxy with narcissism. Therefore, it is essential to understand the ones who are related to a person with narcissistic personality disorder, are at a greater risk of being exposed to or witnessing emotional abuse.

Signs of Emotional Abuse (Abuse by Proxy):

Many a times the lack of awareness about what is being experienced by the person is the reason which leads to limiting the assistance and support required by them. Therefore, knowing about the signs of this kind of emotional abuse is essential. The signs of abuse by proxy are as follows:

  • A sense or feeling of being trapped or caged in a relationship. 
  • Feeling like danger is forthcoming or being unsafe.
  • Experiencing intimidation or dominance by your spouse or partner.
  • Feeling that your control or power is lost.
  • Experiencing concerns, at your other areas of significance for you (like, relations at work, family, friends or society, etc.), which are initiated by your partner or spouse.
  • Being continuously insulted or ridiculed by your partner or spouse.

If anyone is experiencing this kind of abuse, then it is necessary for them to talk about it with their partner, it may not be very helpful but can at least bring the focus to what kind of assistance is required by or for them. 

Effect of Emotional Abuse:

This kind of emotional abuse can have prolonged and severely damaging influence on the lives of the victim, like, anxiety, emotional distress, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. This kind of abuse is not only destructive for the victim, it can show inimical for children living in that house, irrespective of the direct inclusion of children in this kind of abuse. It can result in children developing behavioral disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and physical symptoms like diarrhea, and bedwetting. 

Getting Support and Help:

The most important thing in getting help is the fact the ones who love or care for you won’t be using others to harm you in any way. Reaching out to helplines dedicated to domestic violence is beneficial. They not only educate about the kind of violence but also have the resources to support you as fast as they can. Alleviating from this abuse is possible and it is vital to remember that healthy relations do not include having all your community turned against you. 


The goal of this article is to create awareness and motivate you to help yourself and others if they are experiencing this abuse. It is essential to seek support from group resources in your locality and from a mental health professional (a psychotherapist). 

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