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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I want to stop having contact with my toxic mother. She is verbally and emotionally abusi

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I want to stop having contact with my toxic mother. She is verbally and emotionally abusive (may have borderline personality disorder). The last time we spoke, she verbally attacked me and my husband saying just horrible, horrible things to us. She recently separated from my step dad of 22 years (her choice) and thinks I should not have contact with him anymore. I have 2 boys ages 8 and 10 and he is the only grandfather they have and love him dearly. She blames everyone else for her problems/troubles and never takes any ownership. Emotionally, I can't handle her anymore. Is it ok to cut off contact? Can you recommend any reading material to help me with this process?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

The dilemma for adults who are abused as children is how to handle their relationship with their parents, especially if the parent or parents continue to be abusive. The guilt about being a good child and having a relationship with the abusive parent makes it a difficult struggle.


You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. If your mother was a stranger, co worker or friend that treated you that way, you would end the contact and stay away from that person. Being your mother does not give her the right to continue the behavior.

It is just fine to cut off contact. It is actually very healthy to do so. The problem comes in with how you handle the emotions you feel as a result of removing yourself from the abusive relationship.


Having the strength to deal with your mother is good, but that also leaves you with a dysfunctional mother and no real relationship. Therefore, it is important that you mourn over the loss. You want and deserve a normal relationship with your mother. But since she will not allow it, it is a loss. And it is ok to feel sad and upset about it.

Keep your boundaries with your mother. She may never see that she needs help, but that does not obligate you to have a relationship with her. The relationship you would have with her just results in more hurt and pain for you. And your mother needs to learn that you are an adult now and she can no longer hurt you.

Also, it may help you to go to counseling to talk about how you feel. If you feel the social worker is not helping, it is ok to seek out another therapist.Talk to your doctor for a referral or if you attend church, your pastor can help. You can also search on line at

Here are some other resources that may help you as well:

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck

Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Ann McMurray and Gregory L. Ph.D. Ph.D. Jantz

I hope this helps you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

How do I explain to my 2 young sons that I'm ending that relationship??

Be honest and open. Let them know (age appropriately) what the situation is. Tell them about the abuse but leave out the details. Let them know that your mother continues to try to hurt you. But don't blame your mother or say bad things about her. Rather, say Grandma has problems with how she handles her feelings and she tries to make others feel bad because of it.


Tell them how the abuse made you feel (I'm sad because of what happened, etc). Kids understand very well if they have the information and they are free to ask questions. Kids will sometimes continue to ask questions as they think of them or equate their childhood experiences with your experiences. As long as you keep your answers child appropriate and you are open with them, they will understand and learn to accept the situation.



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