Should I cut off ties with a family member who hurts others by hurting herself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2005
Should I cut off ties with a family member who hurts others by hurting herself.
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 9:11am

I have a family member whom I'm very close with and have been since childhood who continued to hurt others by hurting herself.

This woman met her husband when they were both very young. Since they've married and started a family. However her other half has been both verbally and mentally abusive to her calling her derogatory names, cussing at her and even telling her she is not a good mother.

I am not insinuating that she is an "angel" because I don't know what goes on behind closed doors and I "do" know that she too can have a temper and quite the "mouth". Still, he has done things that have also proven he can be irresponsible with the kids...for instance placing extracurricular activities such as sports as a priority before schoolwork and not addressing the kids homework until about 10 or 11 at night and we're talking kids under 12.

He has often told his "wife" that he feels like he was forced into the marriage because they conceived and  that he missed out on his youth. This, has led him out the door on more than one occasion, though he seems to always  slither back.

My family member blames herself for much of their marital problems and overtime he leaves, is eager to take him back, always leaving the door open for him to come back, noting that she too is to blame and that every man will have his set of issues, and that no one is perfect..Besides, he's the "dad".

This notion is compounded by her parents who are in a dysfunctional relationship themselves (husband is extremely tyrannical and verbally abusive...To the point where his own children no longer respect either of them). The parents tell her that other men may be abusers of the children and that her "place" is with their father...Even though now, this is like the third time he has left and is coming  back.

Every time this man leaves, we the family and friends and the support system...And we are happy to do so...Only to find out when he's done "playing" and "sowing his wild oats" he comes crawling back into her life and ours. And, all this because she is being "brainwashed" that this man is her best option until at least her kids are fully grown.

This man is a conniver and a manipulator and his family seriously disrespectful of the wife and her family and not afraid to show it. They've NEVER wanted her for their son and it's obvious and they never speak to her and when they visit ignore her and her family. Yet, somehow she stays..Though every time they argue she comes, rightfully so, calling on us, her friends and family to vent to and for support.

Point is there are a few other GOOD men out there who have been interested in her since this person walked out the last time who she continues to push aside just so she can take her soon-to-be-ex back..Not realizing that for nearly two years now she's been doing just fine on her own. The "ex" knows we don't like him (much) and has very little to say to us, though the girl's mom embraces him as if nothing has happened. I personally DO NOT appreciate him nor want to associate with him.

My husband and mother feel I should keep my big mouth shut. I think someone needs to confront her and let her know, though we've told her our feelings already, that as long as she maintains a relationship with "him", we want nothing to do with it. Should she want to get together on her own..Fine..But if he's in the picture, she should count us, all of us,,,OUT. I think that by embracing him we are empowering him (to do the same) and enabling her to enable HIS bad behaviour.  Instead of just ignoring it and not accepting invites when it's the two of them, I believe we can make a stronger impact letting her know she will lose her support system and her relationships because of him. We should not play nice. Let her know that we will say goodbye if she's with him..And let her know there are consequences to her actions. My man and my mom however think we should just play it cool, keeping doors open. Should we be invited when he's there simply decline and allow her and him to get the message..And this way WE are not hurtful or offensive. But, I think if we are not direct, she will never realize and never learn. But, since I'll admit I too still have lots to learn, I'm willing to see how others feel and what others have to say.

I am soooo angry because he's done this more than once, and more than twice from what I understand and he's bound to do it again...And I really don't want to see her hurt or miss out on other awesome options because of her lame decisions and stubbornness.

What do you all think..Any and all input greatly appreciated.

Humble and sincere thanks in advance.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

I think the worse thing one can do is cut off a person who is in an abusive relationship because it leaves them with no one to turn to except the abuser. I had once been in an abusive relationship and I avoided contact with my family because I felt so miserable and trapped. One day my sister who I had always been very close to came into town to visit and I didn't invite her over and when she stopped by I barely talked to her.

When she returned home she called me and said...I don't know what is going on in your life but I know you don't look happy or act happy and you are not yourself. She told me if I needed to get away her door was open to me and my son and that I could just come for a visit and if I decided to stay she would help me in any way she could. She told me if I wanted to talk she was there for me.

She did not pry into my business or condemn me she offered me support and help without judgment and a way out. I took my sister up on her offer and I left and never looked back because of her help. If she had condemned me and told me what an ass I was married to and that if I stayed with him the family would cut me off, I think I probably would not have been receptive to those tactics. Try to help her without judging her and let her know you love and will always be there for her and try to offer her options. It sounds like she needs counseling.

Good Luck

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2005

True enouch thank you. It's just not the first time he's done this or that she's taken him back when he claims he regrets leaving. I've also been there and the best thing anyone did for me was tell it like it was and tell me they didn't want HIM around We've all tried to tell her in a nice way but each time he leaves she says she's done and that he's a this and that and then when he comes back, she points some of the blame to herself and takes him in. He IS not the person for her...a total user and player and I don't trust him, never have, never will. Sick of hearing about his antics only to be informed that they are "working" things out instead of her trying to get help and get out and move on. But, I will try to be supportive however I do not want anything to do with him and refuse to hang out with them should she choose to pursue the relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

I understand exactly what you mean it is frustrating to hear the same story a different day on and on again. I have a sister who finally moved out of her home and got her own place after 21 years of complaining about her husband and crying on my shoulder. We breathed a sigh of relief but it was not over they are still involved and married except they live in separate homes.

I finally told her I could not take hearing about how he was mistreating because she left but chooses to maintains a relationship calling it "friendship" and they have no kids in common so there is no reason for her to even have to see him. For my own sanity I had to tell her I could no longer deal with her whinning about her husband when she chooses to still see him. I realized that it is her life to live as she wants and if she does not want better for herself there is nothing that I could do for her. When I see her husband I am friendly out of respect for my sister because in reality how can I be mad at him for how he has treated my sister when she is not and claims they are "friends".  He has never done anything to me or disrespected me and I have not personally seen him do one thing to her only heard her stories of mistreatment but never witnessed it myself.

I am just happy that she at least moved into her own place and is not with him everyday, I am hoping that eventually she will be strong enough to sever all ties. Hopfully one day your relative will say enough and think that I deserve better for myself, but unfortunately we can't make people do what we know they need to do.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004

>>>I think someone needs to confront her and let her know, though we've told her our feelings already, that as long as she maintains a relationship with "him", we want nothing to do with it.

No, you should not confront her and let her know what "we" want.  Let the other members of "we" deal with their relationship with her and only speak for yourself. 

And, nobody wants to hear they're wrong, so be aware that this woman has chosen to be with this man and apparently plans to continue to be with him and if you "set her straight" she isn't going to see you as a caring friend! 

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004


Your friend's upbringing in an angry and dysfunctional household has taught her this is how people live. She has no other role model to compare it to and so it's no surprise to me that she married an angry, immature,and dysfunctional man.And it's no surprise to me her family keeps parroting the same line to her as an adult they showed to her as a child.

Confronting her about her choices isn't going to help her. All you'll be is another "angry voice" shouting at her to do or be something she has no idea how to do or be.

Your best option is to let her know you care about her and that you are there for her. Do not try to "solve" her problems with her husband or insert yourself into her marriage. The most important thing you can do is just be her friend, let her know you are there, and then let her decide what to do (or not to do).

And, yes, most importantly you need to remove yourself from the role of savior or rescuer and "butt out" of her maritial issues.

Your friend is being abused by her spouse (and her Family of Origin) and she does need help. Unfortunately, they will continue to be so as long as she accepts this as "normal." Her husband sounds like a Class A Immature Guy who can't decide to grow up and be a man. And as long as she takes him back, he'll leave when he needs a break and he'll come back when he is ready. He's a classic whiner, "I missed my youth." Well, he unzipped his pants, so he takes half responsibility for the pregnancy that "trapped" him in the marriage. Oh, and by the way, most men like him won't really leave their wives. Why would they? They have a ready sex partner, child care provider, and cook. He "slinks" back because he knows its wrong to stray and be unfaithful, but if she takes him back every time, he'll keep living two lives.

The best thing you can do is tell her you're there if she needs you and to be ready if she does. You can help her find information and resources which help her see there is a better way to live and to get help to do so, IF that's what SHE wants.

One such resource is the National Domestic Violence Hotline or There's probably a local domestic violence resource in your community. If she asks what she should do, you could point her to these. If she doesn't, it's not really your place to tell her. The only exception to that rule is if you thought her very life was in danger.

In addition to your friend, the other disadvantaged people in this picture are her kids. The only role model they have of family life is your friend's marriage. How sad that the cycle is being repeated. If you get the opportunity, this might be the only way to "jolt" your friend out of complacency with her marriage by not standing up for herself and seeking help to improve her homelife.

I think if you let her know you are there, but remove yourself from the intimate details of her marriage, and step back you'll be much happier and your friend won't feel like she has no allies. Cutting ties with her will leave her with one less friend to call if she needs to reach out. Be friend, not a rescuer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004

Guess I can´t add anything else, because all replies you have received are excellent. Only that you should not get over involved in her marital issues, because that will drain you. An abusive relationship can drain the abused and all around her, and also leaving and abusive relationship can be very hard.


Let go and let God!