1. "I grew up in an abusive home along with my older brother. The one thing our dad would do after a horrible episode was say he was leaving and never coming back because of 'our shit' — then he’d leave for hours or days at a time. He’d come back tearful, and my mom would later tell me that even at his worst she felt like they realistically couldn’t split up. She was afraid of him being our parent without her always there to make sure my brother and I were safe. But he left us when I was 14, and due to some BS, they didn’t divorce for years. My disabled mom and I were insanely poor, living off her minimum wage salary from the job she scrambled to get when my dad abruptly left us. He didn’t call me for over a year. I attempted suicide at age 17, and then he flew down the next day. He took me to lunch and said, 'Okay, you have my attention' (as if my entire life was about him in the end)."
"When I was 30, I randomly called my dad because I was upset (and for some reason I love him). I just had a fight with my partner of 10 years and wasn’t talking to my mom at the time, so I called him in a fit of weirdness.
I was loopy and said, 'I wanna leave,' and my dad said he’d come get me but if he did, that 'damn well meant' I couldn’t be with my partner anymore.
I said, 'Dad, you haven’t always been very nice to me' and he blew the fuck up. He screamed at me about how I’m the one who abandoned him, and would I have liked it if he’d killed himself instead? He threw the phone, I waited for 10 minutes, but the door in my heart closed."
2. "My husband stopped talking to his mom because she has been married twice (both to guys who beat the crap out my husband). When she was getting divorced from her second husband, she drained him of all his money and lied about it and made us all think that he was the villain. He agreed to leave and she could take the house, but then she forged his signature so she could put his truck in her name. She stopped paying for the house so it 'ruined his life' because the house was also in his name. She kicked my husband out of the house twice while he was in high school, and let a child rapist (who just got out of prison) hold my baby and then kicked us out and blamed it all on us. We called the cops and when we moved, she talked nothing but crap about my husband and I. She tried to take our child away from us."
3. "My mother is an emotionally and occasionally abusive, mentally unstable religious fanatic who nearly killed me on several occasions as a child, either through neglect or intentionally. She has repeatedly stated that the decision not to abort me was the worst decision of her adult life. The instant she lost custody to my dad — who is arguably a worse person, but at least wasn't trying to kill me or something — I broke off contact. The only contact I have with her is over email, just to make sure she's not doing the same to my half sister."
4. "My mom and I got into a fight a few years ago. I got tired of being insulted and stepped on my whole life to baby the feelings of my sisters. I was always the 'cause of the family issues' because I didn’t accept the 'jokes' and 'teasing out of love.' It gave me a bunch of issues as a kid. My mom wanted to talk, but I refused and said I wasn’t ready and needed time. She and my sister went on such a war path to try and force me to talk to her. They called my director’s office to try and get me fired and the boards I volunteered for to get me kicked off. They submitted an op-ed to my local paper trashing me for not making up with my mom when SHE wanted to. I ended up having to file a restraining order because my career, livelihood, and social life were on the line at that point. I filed to save myself and preserve my peace — I haven’t heard from them in five years (minus a blip with my older sister trying to blame me again in 2020). But I blocked her."
"My life is so much better — I’m a better person. I’m kinder, more grounded, self-assured, assertive, and healthy. Blood doesn’t always make family."
5. "When my biological mother and father sent my husband and I an expulsion from their family five years ago, I took that as my personal Emancipation Proclamation. Being a child of two narcissists is exhausting — I'm beyond healthy and rich since the schism. Some people should never be parents."
6. "My sister and I never had a great relationship in the first place. But what really stood out to me was when I was trying to tell her what happened the night my uncle (who was physically abusive to his wife) physically assaulted me. She just laughed like I was 'crazy.' Sure, she apologized AFTER I wouldn't let it go and my mom screamed at her. Sure I'm a selfish person at times, but I would never, ever think someone being abused because I don't like them is funny. I even noticed how since moving out she's never really called me before, but oh well 🤷."
"I'm still in the middle about not liking my mom because of the way she grabbed me and she knew that I was already physically abused. Or the fact that she can't understand why I was upset whenever I saw my uncle wave at me.
I asked her later how she could do something like that, and she said I'm holding onto resentment (or maybe I just don't want to say hi to my abuser...)."
7. "I cut ties with my father when I was 11. He had custody of me for five years of my life and they were all miserable — he was a mean drunk. He hurt my older brother (not his child). He was so narcissistic, he gave me his initials and put his middle name in my middle name. His family was full of mean people, too — it took my mom a minute, but she got back on track and got me back. He tried to contact me and guilt me into talking to him years ago, so shortly after that, I changed my middle and last name. It’s been 20 years since I’ve seen him, and I’m so happy. I’ve accomplished so many things I wouldn’t have been able to had I been with him another second. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to keep someone in your life because 'you're family.'"
8. "My mom died earlier this year, and the rest of my family has been so hateful towards me. I had already cut ties with my youngest sister, who is a 'nutcase' and tried to kill me. My oldest sibling steals from me all the time, and I finally cut ties with her, too. My brother is also never there for me, even though I have always helped him and listened to his woes (my second youngest sister is super rich and looks down on me). Finally, my father has always been incredibly cruel to me — he used to beat me with his belt when I was younger, though he never laid a hand on the other kids. He told me he wasn’t leaving me a cent in the will. I put myself through college, graduated at the top of my class, and I moved all over the country by myself (I put myself through law school). My siblings all took six years to graduate from college (with our parents paying their tuition), except the rich sister who just married a rich guy. They are all dead to me."
9. "I didn't speak with my dad for almost two decades (it was awkward, considering my parents lived together and I somewhat had a relationship with my mom). I didn't go to his funeral mostly because I didn't think opening a eulogy with, 'Today we celebrate the death of a monster' would go over well. But it was so tempting..."
10. "My grandfather (who’s Japanese) got very angry when my aunt married someone who's American. I was four at the time, but I remember my grandfather at my aunt's wedding not looking happy at all. He complained (in Japanese thankfully) that my uncle would never be family to him."
11. "I cut ties with most of my bio family. The only one I really have any relationship with is my mom's oldest brother and his wife. Growing up they were never really around much, and I always wondered why because they were my favorite aunt and uncle. I went to live with them after I graduated college for a few years, and I found out they were never around for all the same reasons I hated coming home. To no surprise, I was very close with them growing up and found myself defending them at family gatherings when everyone would start making snarky comments and tearing them down for not being around. I'm sure I'm part of those conversations now, too. I'm glad they have more to talk about and that I don't have to hear it anymore."
12. "We are considering cutting ties with my grandmother. She's a closeted alcoholic and is deteriorating from it, and is forming a wedge with my dad. She's moving into assisted care after nearly dying from breaking her hip from a drunken fall, and is now telling my dad to stop working. She's gotten my good-for-nothing drunk uncle involved (when he's the reason why she drinks so much). They're trying to get my dad to pay for everything and for my mom to now stop working and care for her. I don't want to care for someone who treats my dad horribly and who constantly berates my mom. Are we horrible people if we cut off contact with her, or at least limit it until she stops drinking herself to her grave?"
13. "It's an intense 13-year relationship that's gotten worse with time. A few weeks ago, my sister screamed at me for the pettiest reasons. I decided to have a bare-minimum relationship with her, just for the sake of my daughter (her and my niece are close). Not surprisingly, my sister gets along with my ex-husband quite a bit — now he will be the liaison between my niece and daughter."
14. "I worked a full-time job while I was the primary caregiver for my mother. It was grueling, and I was exhausted for years. Two out of four brothers did their best to criticize me the whole time, but never tried to help. I was told I 'deserved to get all of the work because I was getting the house,' even though we split a reasonable chunk of money. When she died I followed her trust/will to the letter with the help of a lawyer, but just wait until somebody dies. The 'fun part' is that quite often the sibling who helps out the most and sacrifices to keep a parent comfortable inherits a bit more, and the rest of the family who usually did NOTHING tries to overthrow the trust/will. And once they figure out they can't, they tell everybody that the person who got stuck with all of the grueling work ''stole everything.' Families are often just vicious."
15. And: "I haven't spoken to anyone in my family for five years. I came from a background of abuse, both physical as well as mental and emotional. My family put the 'fun' in dysfunctional. The final straw was around the holidays five years ago: I spent my weekend working on a gift for one of my brothers. He and his wife had a baby boy in late April, and for holiday cards they sent out pictures, so I had my mom get me pictures of my brother as a baby and convinced my sister-in-law to give me baby pictures of herself, too. I bought a frame that had three spots and put three pictures of their boy in the middle and three baby pictures of each of them on either side. When I gave my brother the gift, he was mad because we agreed at Thanksgiving that we weren’t doing gifts that year. Later, he and my other brother pointed and laughed at me, calling me spoiled because I’m the youngest child."
"I didn't say anything at the moment, but the next day, I called my mom and told her I was upset. She said it was my fault because I was jealous of him. After that, I did not call any of my siblings or my mom because I wanted to see if they would bother to contact me.
The only times I heard from them over the course of a year were my birthday, to help clean my mom’s house, and to make plans for the holidays. I decided if they couldn't pick up the damn phone once to see how I was doing, I didn't need to be a part of that."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-2253 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.