Is “No Contact” Biblical?
“No Contact” is a method for dealing with abuse in which the target stops interacting with the abuser entirely.
The idea behind it is to cut off the abuser from the attention they receive from a target, as abusers intentionally manipulate the people in their lives to garner power and control over them.
Abusers often do this by creating chaos in their interactions, then deny responsibility for ever having been part of it. It’s a dizzying experience called “crazymaking,” and it often leaves victims angry and off-balance. In response, victims often emotionally react to the torment (understandably so), or cave to the abuser’s demands. The reality is reactions of either kind give the abuser the sense that they have the power to control your reactions, and they will use that to their advantage.
Both Jesus and Paul both sanctioned cutting off interactions with people who have established themselves as unsafe individuals through their unrepentant sin (Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 5:11). Limiting or cutting off contact is meant to not only protect the vulnerable, but also to help the abuser realize the gravity of their sin, that they might repent and turn to God.
Paul is extremely clear about the need to stay away from abusers in 2 Timothy 3:2-6 (ESV):
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
However, going no contact is not always possible with a person with whom you share children. In these cases, limited interactions are still a healthy and godly way to protect yourself and your children against continued abusive attacks.
5 Tips for Going “No Contact” or Limiting Contact
- Get Your Heart Right. Proverbs 22:24-25 warns, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (ESV). Distancing yourself from an abuser is not retaliation, but rather a natural consequence that follows the abuser’s choice to treat you in an unacceptable way. It is not done out of anger, but rather to yield to God’s wisdom, guard your heart from corruption, and protect your children. It’s important for your spiritual well-being, and your children’s.
- Keep Emotions Out of It. Going 100% no contact is usually not possible when kids are involved, but limited, “business-like”contact for logistical reasons only (pick ups, drop offs, etc) can keep disturbances to a minimum. This is known as the “gray rock method” in which you become about as interesting as a gray rock. With gray rock, you avoid chit-chat, and sharing information about your own life (or getting information about theirs). It’s often advisable to use written means to communicate as often as possible in these situations.
- Get Help. It can be helpful to have a third party involved when a conversation is expected to occur in person. The third party doesn’t need to be involved in the dialogue, other than to protect you if things start getting out of hand. Having such conversations in a public place is another good idea.
- Seek Safety. Remember that withdrawing attention usually makes abuse worse. Think about it—it’s just like an addict experiencing the withdrawal symptoms that accompany substance abuse. Work with local domestic violence resources to have a safety plan in place to ensure that you and your children are safe.
- Get a Mentor. You are healing. You are changing. You are learning new ways of thinking and behaving. Sometimes, all this newness makes it hard to know what to do. There were times when I was so sure I needed to contact my ex-husband but my mentor encouraged me instead to seek the Lord and wait on Him (and that always turned out to be the right answer). Godly counsel is vital in these situations so seek out a person who knows the Lord and has experienced a similar situation.