Toxic Family Members > God says “Walk Away”

ToxicFamilyMembers - God says walk away

I am often asked why I don’t associate with my birth mother, my brother, and two of my half-brothers. The conversations all start with, “How is your…?” To which I reply, “I’m not really sure, I haven’t seen them or talked to them in years”. Then I am asked “Why?” To keep it simple, I  just say that we took different paths in life, which sums it up in a nutshell, but that never seems to be an acceptable answer, because as soon as it’s said, the interrogation begins. At this point, I usually just say that the house I grew up in was abusive so I walked away, so I wouldn’t become a product of that environment. I am then told, in so many words, that it’s sinful and wrong that I’ve cut off ties with my family; that it doesn’t matter that they were or are abusive to me, the proper thing to do is be patient and tolerant of their sins.

I can’t stress how much I disagree with this, and how wrong this advice is. For years I was helplessly trapped in a family where I was repeatedly raped by my oldest half-brother. This happened right under my mother’s nose, while my other brothers lied and covered up the facts. They are all still, today, lying about it and covering up the facts and my mother is no exception.

Their whole lives and even now, my brothers, abuse drugs and alcohol and they commit crimes, taking not only tangible items from me, and everyone around them, but more importantly, they ruthlessly and shamelessly, desecrated and destroyed, not only my childhood, but also my innocence. This is on all of their hands; including my mothers and it doesn’t end there because I’m not the only one who has suffered, there are other girls in the family, as well, and then there is the emotional abuse, which for years left me nothing less than a train wreck and still haunts me at times.

I don’t believe for one second that the Lord wants me (or anyone) to be endlessly patient and tolerant of others who choose to sin, especially those who sin directly against us. If that were the case, God would find it a sin for us to protect ourselves, and He doesn’t.

Another thing God doesn’t do is consider it a sin, or even a slight disappointment, that I walked away from a family that treated me with the utmost disrespect. I was born into this family, yes, but I am not stuck with them. The bible tells us to follow those who follow him, so my relationship with family is no different than my relationship with anyone else that turns out to be “NOT the person I thought they were”. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Hebrews 3:12, Matthew 18:20)

Choosing not to entertain the immoral, shameful, lifestyle of my toxic family members, does not make me less-Christian, or “un-Christian,” or ungodly, or anything else along those lines. What it makes me is smart.

It’s hard for a person that has never experienced abuse to understand how a family relationship could be so toxic; toxic to the point it resulted in my casting my entire family out of my life.  However, some of the people that have criticized me – leaders in the church for example – have been abused themselves (Galatians 6:13) and to them I say, “I’m praying for you, A LOT, because having walked in your shoes, I know your personal weakness, your struggle, and what haunts you in everyday life”. My prayer is that you come to understand the worth that God has truly placed on you, you are invaluable and I pray you find the strength to embrace that with all of your being; honoring yourself and loving yourself for all that your truly are. (1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 12:2, Psalm 139:13-14)

Not only have I been criticized but I’ve been told that the proper thing to do is to forgive. I agree with this, forgiving is the proper thing to do, for my own peace of mind. I put my trust in God years ago learning that revenge is His alone (Romans 12:10) but I am also mindful that the Bible does not tell us to forgive unrepentant people. (Luke 17:3-4, Matthew 5:44). And nowhere in the bible are we instructed to continue on in an abusive, unhealthy, toxic relationship.

I want to add that I do believe in second chances. We are all sinners and we all make mistakes. That is why I gave my mother and each of my brothers a second chance, (third, fourth and fifth) to see if they had truly repented and changed their ways. However, after waking up at 21 years old to find my oldest half-brother (six years my senior) trying to get his hands in my underwear, as my two year-old daughter lay asleep next to me, it was clear that he had not changed at all. Once again, mother & brothers did nothing to protect me, defend my honor, or set him on the straight path – there was no accountability whatsoever. Instead, they defended him and told me to get over it. So, here I am, today. I am getting over it and shaking their shame off of my back, placing where it belongs, in their hands.

I, nor anyone else, should be mistreated. The most Godly and righteous men of God don’t have to keep going back for more. This may rock the world of those that I’ve come in contact with, those that don’t fully know me, those who have told me I’m wrong and sinful, instructing me to be patient and tolerant of these abusive family members, but hear me roar, “NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO EXPECT ME TO LIVE MY LIFE BEING ABUSED, OR TO JUDGE ME FOR TURNING MY BACK ON THEM. NO ONE.” (Matthew 4:5, James 4:1, Proverbs 31:9, James 1:26)

In the bible, patience is listed as a “gift of the Holy Spirit” and is considered a righteous person’s trait. (Galatians 5:22-23) When this is taken out of context it has a completely different meaning from the way it is presented in Scripture. “Patience”, in the Biblical context, generally refers to not losing faith in God when we are going through hard times, being patient in waiting for Him to rescue us from our trials, and persevering in our faith until we reach our reward in heaven (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 27:13-14). It does NOT refer to being patient in waiting for evil people to change their ways. This is a total misrepresentation of the Word of God. Biblical “patience” never refers to us being patient with wickedness, hurtfulness, abuse, or offensive behavior; that is God’s role in being patient with us. That is His long suffering toward us, because he is not willing to let anyone perish but that all us should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).

The Bible does not tell us to continue in relationships with people who have damaged us, or are still damaging us, family or not. In fact, the Scriptures are full of teachings instructing us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20, Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 6:27, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:13 – these are just a few). Parents and siblings are no different.

Jesus told the disciples, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” (Matthew 10:25).

God did not tell them not to love, He told them to love them from a distance, a great distance because we all must love – we are commanded to love but we are not commanded to love what the evil do.

Spreading the word and teaching others about God’s love for us and encouraging them is not just taught through words, it’s taught in the way that we each live our lives. It’s the light that we shine on the world. This includes the people that we surround ourselves with (Philippians 2:16-16, John 8:12, Matthew 15:16, 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:17, Ephesians 5:8 – there are so many more).

This all comes from God. I’m not making this stuff up. I encourage you to do your research and read it in the bible. Since walking away from my family, many doors have closed on my past and every time once door closes, ten more doors open; brightening my life, my future, and every relationship that has caused me sorrow and pain has been replaced with a healthy, loving relationship in the most unexpected ways and from the most unexpected people. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

All I can say is “Glory to God!” with a whole lot of dance in my step and some swing in my hips! Life is awesome!

Want to read more of Kerri’s journey in healing? Check out these post:
Dear Rapist, an Open Letter to the One Who Abducted My Innocence
My Mothers Legacy of Shame – An Open Letter – From Me, the Daughter She Didn’t Protect
My First Memory
Forgiveness, a Total Injustice

© Kerri Bishop Reece | Kerri Chronicles

33 thoughts on “Toxic Family Members > God says “Walk Away”

  1. Hi Kerri, I too have walked away from my family. I dont fully agree with you about forgiveness however and put before you verses that say we are to forgive all those who have hurt us. God does require us to forgive because he has forgiven us much. Here are the verses….Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. – Colossians 3:13 Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you. – Luke 6:37 And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done. – Mark 11:25 and of course this one Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:21, 22. and this important one too…Mark 11:25-27 King James Version (KJV)25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

    Forgiving someone that has hurt you so bad is hard and God knows this and we require his help to fully forgive. He wants us to be willing to forgive and he will help us. We just need to be honest with him about it. Just saying Lord I know you say you want me to forgive and I want to be obedient to your word however I need help. When you actually come to the place of forgiveness for these people you see them as lost and blind and can pray for them. The Lord loves them just as much as you and me. They are lost. The enemy has a hold of them. So when we forgive we move to a new place of praying that God will have mercy and grace on them, that they will repent and turn from their way.

    This is sent in love to you my dear sister in Christ…..Kim x

    1. Dear Kerri,

      I understand completely what some people mean when they say that you must forgive your abusers, but I believe they have misunderstood what you meant about ‘not forgiving.’ So, this is my letter to them:

      Here is the scripture Kerri gave:

      “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them ; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you 7 times.” Luke 17:3-4

      First of all, most people do not understand what repentance means. “Repent” means to ask forgiveness for the sin AND turn your back on the sin completely. People who do not repent have every intention of continuing that sin over and over again without remorse for their victims. The 1st part of that scripture says if your brother or sister sins against you, REBUKE THEM. It DID NOT say to forgive them. It said to rebuke them. The next part of that scripture says IF they repent you are to forgive them. Repentance on the abuser’s part is the key to receiving the victim’s forgiveness.

      Eventually for our own healing Christ does expect us to forgive all who harm us, but I believe the Holy Spirit wrote the verse this way to keep us from thinking that we have to submit to abuse of any kind and so many people do because they do not understand this scripture.

      Any child, or adult for that matter, who has been raped, God would never expect us to look at that person and say “I forgive you” while the man is buckling his pants. No, God would expect us to call the police and have the molester put behind bars. If there is no consequence on the abuser’s part then how would they ever come to repentance if they are not held accountable and exposed? Now…I do understand that some are talking strictly about forgiveness, but the reason why I stated this last part about being held accountable is this: Most people think that to forgive someone they must submit to that evil and so many people do thinking they are being holy. That is not being holy…that is being ignorant. God has never told us to submit to evil but to rebuke it (and resist it) and then if they repent, we are to forgive them. And here is the other part of forgiveness that so many people misunderstand: When we are to forgive someone that does not mean in any way or in any case, that we should allow the abuse to continue. Even if you forgive, there must be a consequence for the crime. Forgiveness does not mean that they get off scott-free. God wants and expects all abusers to repent and if there is no consequence for their crime, then they will never repent. They are to be exposed and they are to be held accountable. 

      When Jesus was on the Cross and said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” did not mean that they were not held accountable. They were held accountable and have been in Hell ever since and always will be. His Forgiveness for their sins was the very reason why He was on the Cross for the world, but they did not repent but rejected him and because they did not repent, there was no forgiveness for their sins. In order to receive God’s forgiveness we must repent. And that is what the scripture is talking about regarding forgiveness. Forgiveness is available but if there is no repentance, they are not forgiven.

      Forgiving someone is not for them but for us. It has absolutely nothing to do with submitting to someone else’s sin against you.

      And one more thing: Often, when Jesus was in a crowd and they wanted to harm him or throw him off a cliff, He did not stand there and say “I forgive you.” He got away from them.

      Cheryl

      1. Cheryl, you always inspire me and educate me. I often times know what’s on my heart but I struggle with putting it into words. Thank you so much for this. This is exactly what I wanted to share and in the exact way I could only have hoped to share it. Much love to you.

      2. Dear Cheryl, I think you have misunderstood what I have said about forgiveness. It is very clear in scripture and from the ones Ive quoted that we are to forgive everyone that has harmed us. This does not mean that we need to be in a relationship with them or go and tell them that we forgive them. Also true everyone is accountable by the law of the land for their crime and also accountable eventually to God for judgement. In our heart we choose to forgive them because Jesus does require us to do that. I have had some terrible things done to me. The pain and heartache so unbearable, at first it was not possible for me to even look at forgiveness. All I could do was deal with my pain and heartache. At the right time I was able to look at forgiveness and ask the Lord to help me fully forgive these people. Not forgiving people harbours resentment, bitterness and hatred. In our flesh this is normal for the crimes done against us however Jesus came and died for all sin and for all of yours and my sin. Jesus was beaten, whipped, his beard pulled out, spat on, accused on things he did not do, hung on a cross naked, took on the wrath of God the father for our sins, however he said forgive them for they know not what they do. Scripture says we are to take up our cross daily, to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. So in saying all this it is totally sinful, horrific and evil what people can do to us and their judgement is awaiting, unless they truly repent and receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. We are to forgive otherwise we do not love, love our enemies and then we are giving place to the devil. Loving your enemies also does not mean being in a relationship with them either. I am able to pray for the people who have horrifically hurt me, I pray for their salvation as they are lost and the enemy has got hold of them. Also I would be polite to them if I saw them, I would do no harm to them. Unforgiveness produces bitter emotional feelings, it also affects our physical body and our life. I have said the truth, it is in Gods word from the scriptures I posted earlier. In our humanness we want justice now, however trust the Lord he has everything in hand, vengeance is mine says the Lord unless they receive Jesus as their Lord. We must be born again of the Holy Spirit who helps us to forgive and guides us in all truth from Gods word. Remember we have been forgiven of every sin in our lives (if you have received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour) That every sin. So we can forgive every sin that is done against us. Also we need to know who we are in Christ, what the bible says about us. Be settled in who we are, not comparing ourselves to other people. We are uniquely made, precious in Gods sight, once we know this in our hearts, we have peace. We are not offended by other peoples comments and things that hurt us either.

      3. Everyone is required to submit themselves to God when they’ve done wrong. We have to stop, humble and deal with ourselves through God. This includes when were are angry, bitter or sad. Forgiveness is between oneself and God, NOT oneself and the other person. It’s humbling oneself, removing your hands from the other person’s throat and giving them to God to deal with saying, “I have faith in your word. I will not take matters in my own hands”. It’s releasing and letting go so we don’t maintain a spiritual attachment to the offense.

        Here is a prayer:
        Bless those that have been used to humble my flesh towards You. Grant me godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9) that I might repent from holding hidden grudges and feeling sorry for myself. I freely give room for your wrath and/or mercy towards those who have hurt me, You decide. Help me to know when to escape and when to stay. Teach me to examine myself first and not the one that seems to be pressuring me. Give me the courage to believe You are just. Deliver me from any and all tormentors.

      4. I just want to add to this by saying that the scripture Luke 17:3-4 is for the church only. It talks about brothers and sisters, not the world. It is for us to keep our church clean. To not forgive immediately a sin done against us, so that they look at themselves and repent, turn from their ways. -Conditional forgiveness which requires repentance from my brother in order for me to forgive the sin he has committed against me. Conditional forgiveness holds back forgiveness toward a brother until they accept their sin, and repent and confess their sin. The goal of conditional forgiveness is reconciliation and restoration of a relationship as well as the development of godly character. This is forgiveness with the brother in mind and for the maturity of the body of Christ. If they do not repent you go through the process of Matthew 18:15-17. Conditional forgiveness is only for the Church to get us to see our sin and keep the church holy.

  2. (Clap clap clap clap!) Yes!!!!!! Preach it girl!!!! I understand you 100%. My situation was not as intense as yours, my heart breaks for what you have gone through.. I stumbled on this article by Divine intervention. I have been seeking scriptural words about toxic siblings. I was in A toxic marriage for 9 uears and our las separation we found the power of Christ and He ressurected our marriage! But the family problem, well that seems to be staying the same…

  3. Wow, thank you for so bravely sharing your story. Mine is very different yet I identify with the overall topic you are addressing and it is so refreshing to see someone taking a stand against false teachings like the one you described. I truly believe the Christian Church has mixed theology with people pleasing and ends up shoving this idea of smiling and not fighting back when people hurt and abuse others. You’re so right that people in the Bible who were forgiven REPENTED, they didn’t just do a horrific act and then everyone shrugged and said , “ I guess we have to forgive him/her”. We need to change this as a church culture here in America bc it is enabling the enemy at the end of the day and acting like he wins because he is the only one fighting .
    Keep fighting and stay strong ! Know that you are an inspiration to others

    1. Yes, I totally agree with you when you say “Christian Church has mixed theology with people pleasing”. I’ve heard it said that the church leads people away from God, that the teachings are no longer coming from the bible but rather from sugar coated lips that please the masses simply to fill the coffers and make that money. It’s no longer about God, but rather the business. Don’t get me wrong, I know several churches of non-denominations that truly speak, teach, and live the word of God but they are rare and far and few and often times looked at as cults, when in reality, they are the real deal.

  4. If prying people want to be rude and abusive by asking personal questions and then insisting you should submit to this abuse for the sake of “family” then you need to also be rude enough to say ahead of time, “this is not your concern but my decision.” The fact that they have to ask questions as to why you have not seen your family in awhile tells me that they are not friends or close acquaintances. If that is the case then they are overstepping their boundary in regards to respecting your right to privacy.
    I am getting ready to leave an abusive relationship that I have been in for a long time. A lady that I know said to me the other day, “Why don’t you marry him? I replied, “Because he is abusive.” Her reply was, “I know, but you could get his pension.” Immediately, my son so wisely replied, “I’ll tell you what, YOU marry him and we’ll leave!”

  5. God bless you Kerri, I’m so happy for you ,and reading about your new life Christ and how He has healed. It’s wonderful hear that you allowed God to work in your life after all you went through with your abusive family. God bless and keep walking the Lord. And if I may ask please pray for that I may leave my abusive family.

    1. I pray you all the strength and wisdom you’ll need to take care of yourself, Sandrs, and make the right decisions for you. I will definitely keep you in my prayers. Feel free to keep in touch, via email, I’d love to hear from you.

  6. Praise the Lord ! God’s timing is amazing! In going thru a very difficult time Again, blaa.

    I can’t thank you enough for you and God taking your family toxic experiences helping us who also are and have there too. You are shedding a brighter light on what we go thru and are blamed for.
    Even when I have walked away and given each family member countless 2nd chances and cut my toxic sinning family members off, some continue to mentally abuse me thru other family members. Seems I get judged and not them and their behavior. All these years of physical and mental abuse has given me major PTSD with all the mental and physical symptoms. So difficult to trust people and situations. Even many times, my wife seems to not understand or can’t understand, maybe trying to shield herself from the stress of it all.

    Even my counselor seems to think I’m the one to blame. Tomorrow, I’m going to read her some of your excerpts. If she can’t fail to see the light, then time to walk away here too.

    Bless you for what you do to help us.

    1. I pray you all the strength and wisdom you need, to do what you need to do for your own peace and happiness, Mark. It’s not selfish to put yourself first when your doing it for all the right reasons. Family is not always blood. Family are those who genuinely have your best interest at heart. Family is building you up not cutting you down. Keep in touch! I pray you great things in life.

  7. Tonight, I found myself in an uncomforable disheartning situation with my mother and siblings. I somehow stumbled into reading this! I cannot thank God and you enough for shedding a light to my pain! This has spoken to me and definitely put an ease to my life-changing decision! Thank you!

  8. One thing I know is that your a strong person for admitting what happened to you in the past. I’ll be honest my childhood to adolescent days was not bright. As a child I saw the effect of my parent’s arguments, then I had to deal with my older half-sister’s jealousy, being shunned by my own grandfather to the point that I was accused and chased with a belt in his hand, after that a cousin older than me assaulted me sexually. But its okay with me now, I’ve managed to forgive them and I still will even if I do end up disowned or become the outcast of my family I’d always forgive them besides I know in myself that even if my fears occurs Christ, God and Mama Mary will always be watching over me in everything I do and provide the needs I’ll need in my life. Thanks for sharing your story.
    -Gareth

  9. Dear Kerri, I have read your story about “God says walk away,” and everything you have said is correct. There is nowhere in the Word of God where Jesus wants us to be abused or tells us to be patient with those who are violating us. One time Jesus told me quite audibly “be careful who you trust. Some people can be violent.” It doesn’t surprise me that church leaders would be the very ones to accuse and even abuse you verbally by telling you that you should put up with violence . To say to a woman who has been so violently treated, that she should be patient with someone who is abusing her, tells me that that church leader himself or herself, is abusive. Didn’t the Lord very clearly say that liars, deceivers, and the ungodly will not inherit the kingdom of God? Since that is true why would these church leaders think that you should be hanging around these kind of people? And you are right about saying that we are supposed to separate ourselves from them. Personally, I don’t even care what these church leaders or anybody else thinks about you leaving your family…you have every right to protect yourself and your child/children from people who are violent, ungodly and harmful in anyway. After all, are they willing to be there for you and support you at all cost when you are being harmed? I don’t think they would bother. They are wrong and if that is their mentality then walk away and leave them to the Lord; He will deal with them. I have had to leave one of my sisters for many years now and lately I have wanted a relationship with her again and the Lord clearly told me no because she had not changed. I would have been harmed again and He did not want me to have that chaos in my life. God calls us to a life of peace; He does not call us to a life of stress, frustration, abuse, pain, hurt, fear, violence, lying, manipulation, and control. Nor does God want that kind of sin touching your beautiful daughter.

    I love what one of your readers said : “Give those people your mother’s address and tell them to go live there and exercise their patience.” If these church leaders really believed what they were saying then maybe they should go practice what they preach by staying there for a while themselves and see how long it would be before they came back begging your forgiveness!

    1. You are very blessed and a very wise woman, Cheryl. Thank you so much for sharing your comment and thoughts with me. I love that you ask, listen and follow what God etched on your heart! All the best to you! Hugs.

  10. I praise God for delivering you out of that despicable situation. Whom the Son has set free is free indeed! Give those people your mother’s address and tell them to go live there and exercise their patience. Continued blessing to you Sis!

  11. Thank you Kerri for once again shedding light on an issue that many do not understand. I too, have had to explain why certain people are no longer in my life. I just tell them that God told me to walk away and pray for them. I do not have to hang with them. Especially since my life is Christ centered now and not for the old stuff.
    Love ya sis.

    1. I am so proud of you Stuart and so blessed to have you as my younger brother in life! You are changing the lives of so many and I am so honored that you allow me to be a part of that. Hugs, little brother. What a God send you are!

  12. Kerri,
    Thanks so much for once again opening up your heart to the world. I see such a beautiful person in you — a lovely woman of God who has been through so much pain, yet shines like a ray of sunshine!

    You have just empowered so many by sharing your life, Kerri! It’s sad, to me, that any person has to defend his/her reasons for pulling away from evil. I used to feel like I owed the world a lengthy explanation of why I am not married to my ex-husband, but I don’t feel that way anymore. His actions and his choices were his alone and that is what distanced him and broke our relationship. And, he is the only one who could ever have remedied that. The same is true for you family. They’ve chosen to live in a despicable way — liars, abusers, and users, and corrupt. And, yes, it’s fine to say that because their lives are proof of that. The burden is on them to get their lives right with God first, and then right with you secondly.

    Keep dancing! Please, keep dancing!

    1. Thank you, Clara so much for your kind words and once again sharing a piece of your heart with me. Maybe the next time I am asked “Why” I will respond by saying, ‘They’ve distanced themselves from me to get their life right with God.”

      Like you, I don’t feel that I have to explain myself but at the same time I don’t want to rude and there is really no easy way to explain either of our stories without opening up a can of worms where someone will get uncomfortable or uneasy and that is what I try to avoid. I want to focus on the good and talk about the great, that is why I just say that we took different paths in life but geeessshhhh I end up explaining their path and mine too then. It’s all good though, maybe God has put them in my path for a reason I’m not seeing yet. I know writing this article brought me a sense of peace and your comments just added to that. Hugs to you,

  13. How sad that you even have to explain yourself! And you are not the first. Those who follow religion instead of Jesus see only rules and submission to power and beat discernment from people. They live John 10:10a. Spiritual people submitted to Jesus (by faith and grace) live John 10:10b. Yes, the past may still spring up (my counselor side says) so have a plan – someone who is patient, compassionate and in your corner, whether a professional or not, should be on “call”, IF it happens. As the saying goes, not just safe, but sound!
    Peace

  14. You have undergone an extreme experience and my heart goes out to you. I agree entirely with you that you should forgive but also leave these people. I just want you to make sure you are truly healed by Jesus so that your forgiveness becomes a genuine thing and not something done out of a mere sense of duty.

Why hello, friend! Thanks for sharing your comments. Should you have a question, please feel free to ask it here and I'll do my best to reply promptly. Thanks for stopping by! xo Kerri