You Don’t Owe Anything to an Abusive Parent

Emily Stroia
4 min readFeb 6, 2020

A step-by-step process to find peace in letting go

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

It’s been months since I ended the relationship with my mother. We had an on and off relationship for years and for a moment we had found a simple way to stay in touch.

Most of our conversations were not meaningful. I was constantly left feeling disappointed and wanting more. It was unclear to me as to what would become of our relationship but at the time I didn’t want to live in regret if I did decide to sever all communication.

What I didn’t realize was how abusive and emotionally manipulative my mother had become. Through the years I looked for ways to accommodate her every emotional need as she hid behind the “mental illness” label to reprieve her of her negligent actions.

Abusive parents don’t make strong efforts to change.

Over time they expect their children to only stay in the toxic cycles of abuse with them even as they get older. They expect us to stay by their side until death as they continue to make us feel wrong and less than worthy.

My father was sexually abusive to me and so over time I think I held onto my mom as one last shred of hope that I’d have at least one parent there for me.

But the truth is, she never changed and she was not there for me to protect me from my father. She didn’t grow or evolve into a wiser, more emotionally responsible human.

I think as children of abusive parents we will long for a healthy relationship with our parents.

It’s a slow painful process to set boundaries with an abusive parent.

It can feel foreign, emotionally confusing and scary to speak up for yourself and reinforce what you deserve in the relationship.

I felt often afraid to place a boundary because I was afraid she would stop talking to me out of punishment.

This is no way to have a healthy relationship with anyone. You aren’t living a real relationship with someone if you can’t have healthy boundaries on what feels right and safe for you. It just won’t work.

If you are trying to find peace in…



Emily Stroia

Psych therapist in training. I write about mental health, trauma, well-being, and spirituality. Stay for a while.