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When I was 21, and planning my wedding, I had already graduated from college, and was working full time. I was still knee deep in my enmeshed, dysfunctional family, triangulated by their manipulative and hurtful whims. In spite of years of therapy, I had failed to listen to one bit of key advice given to me by every therapists I had seen thus far: cut ties with these crazy people.

The obligations we feel to family run deep. If you grow up in an abusive, but functioning family, or one whose dysfunction is more subtle to not be perceived by outsiders, you begin to question the fight or flight response you feel when the crazy begins to rear its head. It takes tremendous strength to accept that you cannot fix the people you love, in spite of your best efforts to the contrary. It is one of the most difficult things to do when you decide to cut ties.

That’s why this Ohio college student is my hero. Her parents demonstrated their abuse tactics in a way that a court would actually get behind. Her school backed her up when she went to the proper channels to report their frankly bizarre and erratic behaviors. The school protected her from their stalking, regardless of who they were. The court system held up the same and honored a restraining order for her.

It is redeeming for those of us who have gone down the path of cutting ties with hurtful, dysfunctional family. While society still judges us for being spoiled, selfish or whatever for deciding to isolate ourselves from harmful individuals who we just happen to share DNA with, it’s articles like this that give me hope that in my own estrangement, I’m doing the right thing.