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Should You Break No Contact With Your Abusive Parents?

Breaking No Contact with Abusive Parents | Hopeful Panda

If you went no contact with your abusive parents, there may have been times that made you wonder, “Should I break no contact?” And that’s something many people experience. This question led to me breaking (but ultimately reestablishing) no contact with my own abusive mother.

Some people have no issues staying no contact with their abusive parents. My siblings, for instance, are so indifferent to my mother, it’s like she doesn’t even exist. Ignoring her calls and texts is like ignoring telemarketers.

Meanwhile, despite how much my mother has hurt me, I still miss her sometimes. I still have trouble accepting this about myself. How can I still feel any type of affection for someone who has hurt me over and over again? But I tell myself that this attachment I have is simply a trauma bond I’m still working to heal from.

Just because staying no contact is easy for some people doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. Breaking no contact or wanting to doesn’t make you stupid, weak, or “asking for abuse”. It’s just a symptom of the trauma bond you have with your parent. And that’s not your fault.

Besides, breaking no contact is much easier to do than staying no contact. Just answering one call or responding to one text is enough.

Meanwhile, staying no contact means dealing with the constant temptation, which is much more difficult, especially if you have a parent that uses every possible tactic in the book to get you to respond.

Should You Break No Contact?

Most adult children of abusive parents who have gone no contact will insist you remain no contact. I mean, you went no contact in the first place for a reason, right?

I’d say I agree. But well, I can’t practice what I preach. So ultimately, the choice is yours.

The only time when it isn’t just your decision is if breaking no contact can somehow hurt someone else like your partner or children. In that case, please reconsider or involve them in the decision.

All I can say is be prepared for things to end up exactly how they used to be. Your parent may play nice at first. But they’ll pretty much revert back to their abusive selves soon enough.

But as much as I try to prepare for “abuse”, of course, abuse still hurts. So before you break no contact, ask yourself if that hurt will be worth it. Also, most importantly, ask yourself why you want to break no contact in the first place.

I wrote about my recent experience of breaking no contact with my mother. I share my thought process, interaction, and outcome of that interaction. This is simply a warning of what could (and oftentimes, likely will) happen if and when you break no contact with your abusive parents.

Breaking No Contact with My Abusive Mother

The last time I spoke with my mother was about four months prior. Just barely a few texts in before she started verbally attacking me. So I blocked her and went no contact again. You’d think I learned after that.

But the trauma bond is that strong, I guess. I didn’t think about our last interaction when I broke no contact again.

Long story short, my mother texted from an unknown number asking about my sister, Ushi, whom I currently have custody of. For more background, you can read the story of how I got custody.

I easily ignored the text.

The next day, she sent the same text again.

And I caved.

I was prepared for attacks and even established boundaries beforehand. But that wasn’t as helpful as I thought it was going to be.

At first, it went fine. She was polite and courteous for the most part, saying things like “thanks” and “I appreciate it”.

A few days and multiple text exchanges later, I had to block her again.

While she didn’t straight-up verbally abuse me, there were a lot of subtle and indirect jabs about me, my husband, and my father. She also kept insisting to talk to Ushi despite me saying Ushi doesn’t want to. She kept going, “But why”. And I kept explaining why as gently as I could.

But the final straw was when she said “Eventually time will come. I know what I’ve done.”

I responded, “You don’t know what you’ve done. That’s the problem.”

Then, she went on about how that’s just my “perspectives and opinions”. She said she doesn’t want to argue, but I keep imposing my opinions on her.

I said the court giving me custody and her daughter refusing to talk to her aren’t “opinions”. I also sent her a list of reasons (i.e. her abusive behavior and lack of acknowledgment and accountability) why Ushi will not and probably won’t ever talk to her again. Then I said, “I’m done. You’re incorrigible.” and blocked her.

So yeah, I did it again. I must be insane, doing the same thing over and over and somehow expecting different results.

On the next day, she texted from another unknown number. This was what she sent (with writing errors corrected):

“You're a disgrace, a sociopath, a pathological narcissist. Using your own half-sister to blackmail, set ultimatums, and abuse your own mother for years. I will definitely see your future. I will live long enough to see you evil c*nt. Fat ugly c*nts as my father's whores. Fat ones always have complexes and are very wicked as my pop’s whores because they’re ugly and have complexes. You only project your life frustration and anger towards your close ones. Your husband is a sick one too to be able to be capable to go hand in hand with you. You’re a complete narcissistic manipulator. You f*cking blocked me because you want me to comply with your sick ego when it doesn’t work on me.”

Even though I know this text shouldn’t mean anything, especially coming from her, and says a lot more about her than it does me, it still stung.

Though in the end, I was mostly just disappointed in myself for breaking no contact when I should’ve known better. I gave her the opportunity to hurt me.

Why Did I Break No Contact?

I’d like to think I’m good at resisting the temptation to break no contact. But my track record says otherwise.

Of course, mean texts are easy to ignore. It’s the one that plays on my emotions that’s easy to fall for. A simple text asking how my sister is doing seems innocent enough. But that’s the point.

I ended up responding because I felt guilty. I put myself in her shoes and thought, I’d be devastated if I haven’t spoken to my daughter in four years, not knowing how she was doing. And my empathy/sympathy was exactly what she was counting on.

But as my family tells me, I have to stop showing her empathy when she’d never do the same for me. And I have to keep reminding myself WHY I went no contact in the first place.

Unfortunately, I don’t trust myself to be able to truly stay no contact. And that’s okay as long as me and my family continue to be safe and well. And I will keep working on healing and trying to break the trauma bond.

Related: Can Abusive Parents Change?

Is There a Time When Breaking No Contact is Okay?

There may be situations that might make breaking no contact with your parents okay or even necessary. But again, it’s really just up to you in the end.

After speaking to some people and browsing some survivors’ forums, here are some reasons people may break no contact with their abusive parents or other relatives associated with them.

  • They needed financial or physical help from their parent or associated relative
  • They want part of their parent’s inheritance or to be included in their will
  • Their parent or associated relative is ill, in the hospital, or dead
  • They have legal/contractual agreements and obligations with/to their parents
  • They feel obliged to take care of their parents
  • There was a holiday or special occasion
  • They want to confront their parent about the abuse, mostly in search of answers or closure
  • They believe or hope their parent has changed and wish to reconnect

Please note that these are not “guidelines” on when it’s okay to break no contact. There is no right or wrong answer. If you think your situation suffices you to break no contact, then it’s a valid reason.

And remember, that goes both ways.

Just because a situation may warrant you to break no contact, it is still totally within your right to stay no contact if that’s what YOU want. You’re an adult. You have the right to choose who you want to have or not have a relationship with, even if they’re your parents.

What to Do When You Do Break No Contact

So even though I broke no contact a few times, there are certain rules I always try to never break.

For instance, even if I talk to my mother again and we’re somehow on good terms, I will not force my sister to talk to her if that’s not what she wants. At most, I can ask whether she wants to. But I will not involve her or anyone else who doesn’t want to be involved.

Additionally, my mother doesn’t know where we live. And that’s not something I ever plan to tell her. Giving her this information, again, would mean involving my family who didn’t agree to breaking no contact.

So if you do break no contact for whatever reason, at least try to stick to a few rules that can maintain your and your family’s safety.

And if your family doesn’t want to be involved, please respect their decision. Your choice to break no contact is your choice only. Do not make this choice for other people.

Conclusion

As you can see from my experience, breaking no contact did not benefit me in the slightest. On the contrary, I got hurt by it. And that is the most likely scenario if you break no contact with your abusive parent.

But as I mentioned before, it’s so easy to do. And there are so many different situations where you may be tempted to do it or feel like you have to. And whatever it is, it’s valid if you believe it is. Again, it’s ultimately up to you as long as no one else is affected.

And if you did break no contact but come to see it as the wrong decision, you have the right to go no contact again. How easy that would be depends on your situation like how many “rules” you broke. Remind yourself of this moment whenever you feel tempted again. But try not to beat yourself up about it.

And if you decide to stay in contact with your parent, please have realistic expectations and protect yourself. Set boundaries with them. Engage with them on YOUR terms. And if it ever goes haywire, remember that you have every right to stop contact again.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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