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 contract with the abuser, but her parents said it was unchristian.
One of the misunderstandings about survivors of narcissistic abuse is they are accused of being hard hearted or bitter when they refuse to hang out with the abuser. Choosing to have less contact doesn’t mean survivors haven’t forgiven–it means the relationship isn’t reconciled and it is often not the survivor’s fault. Many abusers will deny what they’ve done and continue bullying until their dying day. These people, like the wolf with rabies, are simply 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, “Isn’t unchristian to abuse people?”
These same people use the reasoning that Jesus tells us to love our enemies to infer 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 gave permission for abusers to continue harming others.
When Jesus told his friends to leave a house where they are unwanted and kick the dust from their feet, he was giving us permission to go no contact. If we are unwanted even within our own family, isn’t it better to leave, than to stay and fight? For some people going no contact is simply 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 have 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 our family members are put on low or no contact they have options–
1. They can ignore the situation
2. They can continue with the same lies and behavior
3. They can play the victim and complain
4. They can call us up and ask us what they can do to repair the relationship
Relationships are always a two way communication. Silence speaks too.
No contact is one way of taking your power back. This leads to acceptance and acceptance is the realization we cannot change anyone but ourselves.
No contact is acceptance. It’s saying “I realize I can’t change you and I accept that we can’t have a healthy relationship so I will fill my life with people who care about me rather than have a martyr-like relationship with you.”
Wherever we are in the process, the sooner we stop bargaining and leave denial, the sooner we get in touch with our healthy anger, the less we might be depressed and the sooner we can accept that yes, we came from a dysfunctional family, but we are taking control of our own lives and we will decide who stays and goes based on their ability to show us honesty and respect.