Dealing with Abuse

How to Go No Contact with Abusive Parents

How to Go No Contact with Abusive Parents | Hopeful Panda

Society places emphasis on family. It’s usually assumed that all parents are good, or at least well-intentioned. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Sometimes, limiting or going no contact with abusive parents might be the only option for your well-being.

Whether you should limit or go no contact with a parent depends on your situation.

Sometimes, difficult situations with parents are resolvable with enough effort, communication, and resources to achieve a functional, healthy state.

In some cases, the relationship with a parent has to be minimal or distant to maintain some kind of functionality. The relationship may appear superficial, but it still exists.

However, there are certain times when even limited or very low contact isn’t enough. In times like that, going no contact might be the only option for your health and well-being.

This post will discuss what no contact and limited contact are, when you should go no contact, and how you can prepare for and go no contact with abusive parents.

What is “No Contact”?

If you’ve been looking into abusive parents, specifically narcissistic parents and narcissism in general, you’ve likely heard the term “no contact”.

Going no contact means cutting someone out of your life completely – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s usually understood in the physical sense, where an individual is no longer in your life with no access or any way to contact you.

It is a self-protective measure which purpose is to help you stop engaging with an abusive person. It also gives you time to take the focus off an abusive person and shift it onto yourself instead.

Most people are usually reluctant to go no contact, especially with their own parents. Therefore, going no contact is often used as a last resort to escape an abusive relationship.

It’s very difficult to completely remove yourself from what you’ve known your entire life. Despite how your parents treated you, you might still have trouble letting go.

However, if you have a choice, I recommend at least having limited contact with an abusive parent. The relationship might appear superficial, but it’s the best way to shield yourself from their abuse.

So before we discuss going no contact, let’s explore limited contact.

Limited Contact

It all depends on how your relationship with your parent is. But if you’re unsure about how much contact to establish, I suggest starting with limited contact. See how that goes and continue reducing contact until it reaches the point where the relationship no longer affects you negatively, even if it means possibly no contact.

For example, if you see your parent every day, make it twice a week at first. Then, maybe once every two weeks and so on to the point you only see them on special occasions, holidays, emergencies, or under certain conditions, like with someone else present who can serve as a buffer.

You can also specifically limit contact to only one platform like email, texting, or calling. You can also only allow them to contact you during specific times or on a pre-established schedule.

The purpose of all this is to limit contact to the point where your parent can’t hurt you anymore.

Limited contact can work just as well as no contact as long as you know how to set boundaries and stay firm to them.

However, if you have a severely toxic and abusive parent, starting at very low contact or even no contact might be the ideal option.

Instead of reducing contact little by little, you can also list the pros and cons of establishing the varying levels of contact before deciding how much contact to establish. You know your parents better than I do, so try to gauge how much contact you should keep with them and how much is too much.

And most importantly, take into account you, your significant other, children, and other loved ones who could be affected by your abusive parent. In the end, your and your loved ones’ well-being should be the priority.

And remember, the amount of contact you establish can always change. Nothing is set in stone so feel free to experiment and test the waters as you go if you’re unsure.

When you should go no contact with parents

When you’re in contact with an abusive parent, you’re vulnerable to their toxic behavior. They know exactly how to push your buttons and hurt you. It can be hard staying in contact without letting their toxicity affect you.

If limited contact is still detrimental to your well-being, perhaps it’s time to consider going no contact.

Unfortunately, unlike most other relationships, going no contact with your parents isn’t that simple.

Preparing to go no contact with abusive parents

Going no contact is a big decision. It requires preparation and planning. So we’ll start with that.

1. Make sure this is the best option

Going no contact with a parent is a serious decision.

Doing this can significantly alter the relationship you have with your parent. It will also likely alter your other relationships like the one with your other parent, siblings, grandparents, other family members, or family friends.

So it’s important to make sure this is the best option for you before jumping into it. Make sure you’ve weighed all the pros and cons and that this decision was reached because you want to prioritize your or your own family’s health and well-being.

It’s also important to clarify your intentions.

Make sure you’re not being motivated by spite, anger, or looking to get a reaction from someone. Coming to this decision is not meant to be an act of war or manipulation.

2. Accept that others may not support your decision

People – associated with your parents or not – might not agree, support, understand, or respect your decision.

If you choose to go no contact with your parents, you might face judgment and ridicule from friends, family, or others in society.

Whether you want to explain your decision to people is up to you. But remember that you are not obligated to worry about anyone else’s opinion. You don’t need other people’s approval to do what’s in your best interests.

3. Establish a social support network

As I’ve said many times before, social support is crucial.

Going no contact is hard, especially when you’ll likely be scrutinized for cutting off your parents, whether from them, their supporters, or society in general.

Therefore, you must have a support network in place to help you along the process.

This can be your significant other, close friends, family members who know about your parent’s abusive nature, or even strangers you meet from support groups or online forums who are in a similar situation as you.

They can help:

  • Validate your feelings and experiences
  • Serve as a buffer to difficult things you’ll face during this process
  • Remind you why you need to go no contact

Surrounding yourself with caring and supportive people also reminds you how healthy relationships are supposed to be. It counters your inherent belief that your dysfunctional parents are normal.

Consider adding a therapist or counselor to your support network. A professional can be an impartial party to help you navigate the decision rationally while offering validation and compassion.

4. Let go of guilt

One of the most difficult things to overcome when going no contact with a parent is the guilt you will feel.

Despite how your parents treated you, they did provide for you, at least to some extent. You may feel like you owe them your life or for all the things they bought you or for the things they did for you.

But remember, you can be grateful for what they’ve given or done for you. But at the same time, you have the right to do what you need to do for your health.

You may feel like you owe them, but you didn’t ask to be born (or adopted). It was their choice, therefore, their responsibility to provide for you. They cannot hold it against you. You do not owe them anything.

5. Prepare to grieve

Once you go no contact, feelings of grief may follow. That’s completely normal.

You’ll be leaving your parent and will no longer be contacting them anymore. They’ll no longer be in your life, so in a way, that’s a loss.

Despite how they treated you or how they’ve hurt you, it’s normal to still miss them and feel sad about not being able to see them again.

Grieving helps you break the trauma bond you developed with your parents. It is a significant and necessary part of healing.

How to go no contact with abusive parents

Once you are ready, here’s how you can go no contact and stay no contact (because if you’re not remaining no contact, then well, it isn’t “no” contact).

1. Move out

If you’re still living with your parents, the first thing to do is move out. But escaping abusive parents isn’t so simple. Feel free to refer to these posts to learn more.

During this process, DO NOT tell your parents you’re planning to leave or move out. If you do, they’ll use every tactic in the book to get you to stay.

Also, DO NOT give them any information about where you’ll be moving to or where you’ll be living.

2. Block them

The best way to go no contact and stay no contact is to completely block any access they have to you – physically or virtually.

You can block their phone numbers, emails, and all your social media accounts.

3. Move if necessary

If you don’t live with your parents but they know where you live and it’s somewhere they can easily go, perhaps you may consider moving.

This is a big decision under an already big decision. However, if you have an extremely abusive and toxic parent that you seriously want to go no contact with, moving might be necessary.

Also, it’s not truly no contact if your parent can still easily show up at your door to contact you.

Like with a previous point, do NOT tell your parents you are moving and do NOT give them any information about your new whereabouts.

4. Do not respond

Unfortunately, blocking your parent from various things might not be good enough. They likely have other means they can contact you through. So have a plan for how to manage that when it happens.

There are apps out there where they can get a fake phone number to call you with. (My mother has used this one every time I block her). Or they can harass you at work or school, and those aren’t something you really have control of.

In the case of them still harassing you by using fake accounts or phone numbers, the best thing you can do is not respond. Give them nothing and hope they’ll eventually stop.

Even saying something simple like “stop bothering me” is a reaction that might garner more harassment from them. When you give them any reaction, it sends them the message that they’re getting to you and that you still care enough to respond.

As for work or school, you can let your superior know that you have no interest in speaking with your parent. You can also leave the judgment up to your superior, as in, they can call the cops or do whatever they need to get your parents to stop calling or showing up.

5. Go no contact with those who are connected to your parent

Even if you blocked your parent from everything and they have no way of actually reaching you, they might still be able to get a friend or family member to contact you.

Your parent will likely use every technique in the book to get you to talk to them. So to stay no contact, it’s important to also go no contact with people who are connected to your parents.

These people might try to talk you out of no contact. They might claim you’re overreacting or being sensitive. Or they might even abuse you in place of your parent.

6. Resist temptation

Once you decided to go no contact, it’ll be difficult at first to stay no contact. Therefore, you should set some internal boundaries.

Realize that your parents will do everything they can to get your attention again. You must not give in. Also, try not to fantasize about how they’re going to change, feel remorse, or admit their faults.

There will be moments when you’ll feel tempted to give in. You might think maybe they have changed. Or maybe you miss the good parts of the relationship.

Or you might want to visit other family or friends despite your parents being present as well. But realize that once you do that, you break no contact.

Breaking no contact means giving your parents the chance to be a part of your life again, even if it’s just a small moment.

Whenever you feel tempted to give in, remind yourself of all the times they’ve hurt you and why you decided to go no contact in the first place.

7. Detach emotionally

Going no contact isn’t just a physical action; it’s also a mental and emotional one. Just because you no longer see or interact with your parent doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of your life or still affecting you.

That’s why to truly go no contact means to detach emotionally from your parent. It means no longer feeling hopeful, angry, sad, upset, disappointed, or any other emotions regarding them.

To truly detach yourself from them, refrain from asking about them or looking them up on social media. Whether it’s good or bad is irrelevant. But any thoughts or fantasies about them keep you from moving forward.

Besides, learning about how they’re doing might be harmful to you. Also, they might badmouth you to others or on social media. So refraining from looking at those can also prevent you from getting hurt.

Again, going no contact is meant to protect you. It’s pointless if you continue to think about them and get wrapped up in how they’re doing.

Being able to detach emotionally means they can no longer control your life. This also allows you to begin healing.

8. Let go of the expectation that things will change

Being able to initially pull off no contact is one thing. But to stay no contact is a different story. That’s because abusers are really good at sucking you back in.

Letting go of expectations that things will change will help with that.

Let go of the expectation that your parents will change. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, well, at least you didn’t expect anything to begin with.

9. Begin healing

Once you go no contact, you will start seeing things clearer. And you will begin healing.

After everything, remember to practice some self-care. Give yourself emotional attention. Be kind and compassionate with yourself.

How to Go No Contact with Abusive Parents - Guide | Hopeful Panda

Conclusion

When you first go no contact, you’ll go through “withdrawal” symptoms. And it will take daily effort and work at first to get used to. But the longer you go no contact, the more the symptoms will subside. So give it some time.

After everything, keep the healing process going. Remember that just because you’re physically away from your abusive parent, and maybe even emotionally detached, doesn’t mean you’re fine.

As cliche as it is, it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to reach out for help when you need it.

Going no contact with “family” may feel extreme or like you’re going to be an orphan. But a family isn’t built on blood, genetics, or DNA. A family is built on love, support, and care for one another. You are allowed to choose who your family is.

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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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