Abuse via proxy

There are many forms of abuse: sexual, physical and emotional. But there’s a form of emotional abuse few people are aware of: abuse via proxy. Some articles and vlogs also refer to similar concepts like triangulation and flying monkeys. Triangulation is where the abuser won’t speak with the target but uses others to do his or her bidding. And the people that he or she uses to do his bidding are flying monkeys.

Other posts focus on smear campaigns run by the abuser and their flying monkeys. One crucial issue that sometimes gets missed is just how dangerous this form of abuse is.

So what is abuse via proxy? It’s where an abuser uses their position to influence others to abuse a target selected by the abuser. The target becomes subject to some form of ‘social sanction by society.’ The sanction could come in a few forms of physical punishment, abuse or condemnation.

But while the victim knows who is orchestrating the abuse, don’t expect the abuser to leave their incriminating fingerprints at the crime scene. As Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self-love, says: ‘He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.’

The abuse normally happens when the abuser has tried other methods that have failed. This form of abuse can happen in intimate and workplace relationships. It can also happen in narcissisistic and dysfunctional families.

Profile of the typical abuse via proxy practitioner

Who abuses via proxy?

Those who use others to harass, stalk, ridicule or intimidate the target often use family members to do so. These people have no qualms about using all sorts of tactics that normal people wouldn’t even consider as an option. They could use public ridicule, or they could target a person via social media.

Are their proxy’s stupid?

Many in their social circle know that they’re being manipulated and lied to – they just don’t care. So please don’t waste your time trying to convince your abuser’s friends to come to their senses because they have their own reasons for believing the abuser’s lies.

In other cases, abusers recruit naive flying monkeys from their social circle to do their bidding.

Help! What do I do?

The best thing that you can do is to get out of this situation as soon as possible. Keep. Right. Away. Living or working with these people isn’t an option – at least it’s not a long-term option – because they’ll always find a way to target you if you allow them to.

Their abuse can continue even after you’ve left the same workplace as them. They can do this by using their friends or family to harass, intimidate, defame or insult you online. They could discover your email address and sign you up to email communications that you’ve no interest in receiving. Or they could try and text you seemingly nice, encouraging messages. Ignore and /or block all messages.

And you can’t expect the abuse to stop if you’re in the same workplace or in close proximity to the abuser. The abuser and their key allies have a seemingly limitless repertoire of manufactured scenarios up their sleeves. These engineered situations could have been masterminded by a male and female abuser acting in concert. A common one is where a narcissist throws their new supply in the face of old supply.

What if I’ve suffered reputational damage?

This is quite likely, unfortunately. Many people do suffer and lose friends due to the actions of an abuser.

How do I handle abuse via proxy?

Eventually, some of those who heard the negative gossip about you may approach you directly. If they do, don’t hit out at your narcissist. This sounds like a strange approach, but hysterics and wild accusations won’t work. People will write you off. A better approach might be to be diplomatic and factual. And keep emotion out of your voice.

I am sorry that you heard certain things about X. There are some things going on at the moment in our group/family etc.

Your opinion of me is noted.

In other words, you’re responding not reacting.

But it’s more likely that the proxies are people on the side of the abuser, so whatever you say probably won’t sway them either way.

To deal with these people, you need a boost of confidence—and fast!

Don’t engage with these people., particularly NOT in an emotional or aggressive way. If you do interact with them for some reason, RESPOND DON’T REACT. Responding not reacting is something that requires PRACTICE particularly if you find it hard stand up for yourself.

What if I didn’t handle an interaction properly?

You’ve just provided the narcissist or toxic person with heaps they can use against you. You will also be providing them with narcissistic supply. If you do learn the hard way, put this down to experience and resolve to do better in the future.

Other tips

Ultimately, you need to assess what will work with your abuser(s) and what will not. There is no one size fits all way to deal with all abusers.

Hold your head up high no matter what happens. Be the epitome of class.

Don’t engage with nasty people who side with abusers (in other words the flying monkeys).

If the flying monkeys try and provoke insecurity in you, say: “You seem really insecure today, I don’t know what’s got into you,” or something along these lines, and look at the look on their faces.

If this approach would not work, ignore the insult, name it for what it is e.g. blameshifting and then calmly ask them to apologise.

There could be some situations where it is NEVER advisable to retailate.

Be judicious in the options that you use.

Plan your escape—without letting them know.


Know that it’s only a matter of time before the abuser targets someone else because there are always more targets. The fact is that sooner or later, more people will come to know what kind of person prods their proxies to abuse others.

Abuse via proxy is not direct. It’s subtle. Whether naive flying monkeys or toxic barrackers are undertaking this abuse on behalf of the abuser, this form of abuse is wicked.

One early sign of an abusive person could be ff someone is always telling you how awful or dysfunctional someone is. Of course complaints can be genuine, but more commonly, people who slag off old acquaintances, bosses, spouses or friends are the ones with the problem. So be careful not to accept what you are told automatically.

Of course, don’t write them off as a whinger if you know that they’ve had genuine problems.

A sign that you’re dealing with an abuser who uses their proxies is if they want you to engage with a target on their behalf by harassing or bullying them. If so, refuse to treat other people badly, you don’t want to get involved in doing someone else’s dirty work.

It may be amusing to some to treat to attack, defame, harass, bully or intimidate others—but think how you’d feel if someone did this to you.  

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