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Together Estranged (TE), is the nation's first 501(c)(3) grassroots nonprofit organization to offer support and empowerment to adults estranged from family member(s).

What is Family Estrangement?

You may have heard the phrase, "No family is perfect" - meaning that disagreement occurs from time to time.  However, there are some instances in which family members don’t communicate in healthy ways and the emotional attachment that tends to come with these relationships collapses or dissipates altogether; when this takes place, an incredibly painful experience called family estrangement occurs.


Family estrangement is defined by Wikipedia as, 

"The loss of a previously existing relationship between family members, through physical and/or emotional distancing, often to the extent that there is negligible or no communication between the individuals for a prolonged period."

Oftentimes, it takes years of tension, stress and downright hurtful experiences to cause someone to become estranged - be it from a single-family member or their entire family. For those on the outside looking in, it may be difficult to identify exactly what led to a person's estrangement; however, the experiences, effects, and aftermath are very real.

Factors of Estrangement


According to Very Well Family’s article “What is Family Estrangement”, previous studies have identified several different factors that outline estrangement:


  1. Communication Quantity and Quality

  2. Physical Distance

  3. Presence/Absence of Emotion

  4. Positive/Negative Affect

  5. Reconciliation and the Desire to be a Family

  6. Role Reciprocity

  7. Taking Legal Action

Does Estrangement Last Forever?


Family estrangement may be temporary or permanent, depending on the nature of the relationship and how each party feels. Many people feel this sense of isolation with estrangement; Dr. Freeman, Professor in the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Human Development at Cornell University, stated in a 2020 article,


“I was on my own dealing with it. That’s where a lot of the fear of judgment and embarrassment came from, because I didn’t know how prevalent estrangement was.”

There's so much complexity that goes on with estrangement, and this is why it can be difficult to simply tell someone that their estrangement to a family member will go way one or the other. Speaking with a mental health professional can be helpful in terms of exploring those deep-rooted issues and discovering healthy ways of responding to challenging situations.

You're Not Alone


Family estrangement is still a relatively new topic that’s being explored, with only a handful of studies having researched it. Still, of the studies that have been done - one study found by Dr. Karl Pillemer, as described in his book “Fault Lines”, 27% of Americans 18 or older had cut off contact with a family member, translating to 67 million people nationwide. 


Whether you’re contemplating becoming estranged from a family member, already estranged from family members or are hoping to reconcile - you’re not alone.


Synonyms and similar terms associated with family estrangement: cut off, distanced, disowned, relationship rifts, avoidance, low contact, no contact, neglected, abandoned, separated, disconnected, alienation.

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Together Estranged (TE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports and empowers those estranged from family members by offering workshops and events, online support groups and informative tools/resources for healing.

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