10 Tips When an Abuser Turns Your Child Against You -
Domestic violence by proxy is an abuser's way to harm children after a divorce, but there are ways to combat it
After surviving and escaping domestic abuse, you may discover that your ex is harming your children to get back at you. This may include trying to turn them against you, in a form of “domestic abuse by proxy.” Sometimes abusers train children to reject, avoid, and behave aggressively toward the survivor. This coercive control of children is an under-acknowledged form of child abuse. Coercive control is a pattern of isolation, manipulation, intimidation, gaslighting and actions to control another person. The abuser may also use some combination of verbal, sexual and physical abuse.
Although these behaviors from your child may break your heart, try to remember that they are not “personal.” Children are often following an abuser’s direct or indirect orders. The abuser is working hard to undermine and diminish your role as the protective parent.
Children caught in this bind can seem “difficult.” You may be tempted to punish them or cut them off because of how they treat you. Healing begins when you can regulate your own behavior and move from reactive to responsive, creating a feeling of safety for your child. Take a breath before you respond in anger or defensiveness.
While the blame lies entirely with the abuser, most likely it will be up to you to support the children and repair your relationship with them. This is difficult because survivors are already traumatized by their own experiences.