Laura had no plans to see her abuser,
but he was out of jail and living with her parents.
They felt sorry for him and decided it was time to forgive
because he was a family member
and they expected her to do the same.
Laura never wanted to see his face again. For one thing, her abuser had never apologized for all the trauma and abuse he’d put her through. Every time she saw him, she felt ill and relived the experience all over again. She refused to go to her parents’ house as long as he was staying there. She wanted to go no contact with the abuser, but her parents said it was unchristian.
One of the worst misunderstandings about surviving narcissistic abuse is when people accuse survivors of being unforgiving and bitter because they refuse to hang out with their abuser. Choosing to have less contact doesn’t mean survivors haven’t forgiven their abuser–it merely reveals the relationship hasn’t reconciled yet and it may never be resolved. Lack of reconciliation is not always the survivor’s fault. Many abusers deny what they’ve done and continue bullying until their dying day. These people, like a rabid wolf, are unsafe to be around no matter what they say.
When people ask: Isn’t it un-Christian to go no contact?” Perhaps they should be asking a different question, “Is it Christian to abuse people?”
Some people say Jesus tells us to love our enemies to say this includes abusers. Such people need to take into account everything Jesus says. He also says liars are from their father the devil. He warned the devil to get behind him. Jesus never permitted abusers to continue harming others.
When Jesus told his friends to leave a house where they are unwanted and kick the dust off their feet, he was permitting us to go no contact. If we are unwanted even within our own family, isn’t it better to leave, than to stay and fight? To go no contact is merely turning the other cheek and walking away from a fight.
Going no contact is one way to stop being a victim and stand up for yourself. No contact can even be a part of the final stages of grieving for some people. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defines the five emotional stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Many adult children of dysfunctional families have been in three of the stages–denial, bargaining, and depression for years. Sometimes we need to get in touch with our healthy anger before we can find acceptance for our situation.
If you’ve been in an ongoing, abusive situation of any kind, healthy anger might include going no contact. No contact doesn’t have to be forever, but it should continue until both parties can respect each other. When we put our family members on low or no contact they have several options–
- They can ignore the situation
- They can continue the same lies and behavior
- They can play the victim and complain
- They can call us up and ask us how to repair the relationship
Relationships always require two-way communication. Silence speaks too.
No contact is one way of taking our power back. We can’t change anyone but ourselves, but we do have control over who we let in the door.
No contact is a form of acceptance. It’s saying “I realize I can’t change you and I accept that we can’t be friends, so I will leave you alone and fill my life with people who care about me.”No contact is better than having an ongoing martyr relationship with an abuser.
Wherever we are in the process, the sooner we stop bargaining and leave denial, the sooner we can get in touch with our healthy anger and the less we might be depressed. The sooner we can accept that yes, we came from a dysfunctional family, but we are taking control of our own lives we start a healing journey. When we decide who stays and who goes, we gain our life back, and we are no longer victims.