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via Unsplash. Sometimes you want to throw a smokebomb and put on a mask to escape toxic family.

Sometimes you want to throw a smoke bomb and put on a mask to escape toxic family.

For Thanksgiving, we talked about setting limits with family. Unfortunately, limits are not always enough. What do you do when incredibly toxic family members will not listen to your boundaries and continue to hurt you?

Sometimes you have to sever the tie, regardless of how much it hurts.

While it may feel absolutely impossible, it can be done. We’re not suggesting that you cut the cord with someone who may have said something unintentionally hurtful once or twice: there’s a lot to be said for sitting down and talking it out. If you’re contemplating cutting off a family member, you most likely have endured some pretty awful things — not just one small argument with a well-meaning-but-overzealous mother. This is about those people who have eroded your self-confidence for years, stolen money, manipulated you, taken advantage of your empathy and kindness, purposefully misgendered trans folk, physically or verbally assaulted you or worse. You deserve emotional safety — and sometimes that means completely going “no contact” and cutting folks off completely.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” —Brene Brown

Here are five great resources for making that leap:

1. Dr. Sherrie Campbell recently wrote an article for HuffPo called “8 Reasons We May Need To Cut Ties With Family Members to be Healthy.” If you are having any doubts, this is a great resource to look over.

2. You’re not alone in this struggle. Gabrielle Moss from Bustle has gone through this safe stuff, and wrote “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Not Talking To Toxic Parents.”

3. Women are not the only ones who have to cut ties with toxic family. Chris Andrews writes about “Why I Broke Up With My Toxic Parents” for The Good Men Project.

4. This anonymous article, called “Family Isn’t Always Forever: When It’s Time To Say Goodbye” on TinyBuddha, is also great.

5. Life coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff talk about “10 Things To Remember About Toxic Family Member”s on Marc and Angel.com

Related: 7 Ways to Cope With the Holidays if You’re Estranged From Family

Remember: just because people are biologically related to you does not automatically earn them right to be with you in any way. We need love, community and family in these incredibly trying times, and folks must work for the right to call you family. True family stands beside you and supports you, loving you unconditionally — and you don’t need a blood bond for that.

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” –Edna Buchanan


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

  • L

    I’ve always struggled with my family. I have very strong morals and opinions, so I have never felt like I “fit in” or “belong” with my family. They are very racist, homophobic, and are pedophile apologists. I always get shut down and ridiculed, or get called naive, stupid when I call them out on their ignorance and bigotry, and they use my age to defend themselves, saying that I don’t know enough about anything. (Even though I’m the only one in my family who reads…) My female cousin got together with a man when she was only 13 and he was 31(!!) – and they’ve been together ever since, it’s been now 17 years. Back then I didn’t know about it, but since have been told, and I never feel comfortable around him, but everyone likes him for his personality because he is social and “funny”. I’m 22yo now, and I’ve been wanting to cut ties with them for many many years. I’m a WW from a conservative, WS Central European country, so you can imagine… I cannot excuse racism or homophobia or pedophilia, but no one around me thinks so. I still live with my mother for money reasons, so I have to endure this for some time. I just want to leave them and never look back. I know they won’t ever change their views; I tried. Family is so much more than blood.

    Aug 31, 2019
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