I used to think that people chose abusive relationships or were too weak to leave them. I now understand that it’s much more complex. I wish I didnt have to learn the painful way; but experiencing abuse taught me lessons about myself and humanity that I couldn’t have learned any other way.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, my fellow survivors and those we’ve lost, I want to discuss some reasons why people live in violent and toxic relationships. My heart hurts for those who have lost their way and have gotten stuck in nightmares. But there is good news!! You can get out. Evaluate why you’re in the relationship; what you’re getting out of it; and the effect it has on your mind, emotions and confidence. It’s okay. Be honest. You’re the only one that can hear the answers.
Toxic and abusive relationships start off feeling SO good! But they’re like quicksand and quickly become consuming and damaging. They suck you in and, before you know it, you’re stuck. Being in tune with who you are as an individual and understanding the role a relationship plays in your life helps when weighing the pros and cons of being involved with someone or remaining closely connected. Regardless of the positives a relationship seems to bring to your life, it is never worth emotional, mental, financial or physical abuse. It’s never important enough for you to become less than the person you once were or are meant to be. You deserve a way out and a way through. You deserve a plan of protection.
Protect your mind. Protect your identity. Protect your wellness and happiness. Set clear boundaries so that if anything in the relationship crosses them, you’ll have reason to pause and evaluate the relationship. This doesn’t only work for romantic relationships but platonic ones too. Don’t wait for problems to start. Decide ahead of time who will be a part of your support system. Decide what behaviors are unacceptable and why.
It’s so important to discover for yourself what is acceptable. Do not allow others to dictate what that should be for you. The status of your relationship is not a community project. Abuse is defined as improper or excessive use or treatment: misuse. You are the one who determines what is excessive for you. You are also the one who has the right to communicate your abuse to your abuser or a mature, objective third party if you desire or your safety is in danger.
Abuse doesn’t have respect of persons. It affects both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, highly educated or those with little education. It’s not directly tied to self-esteem levels. It can affect those we consider the most emotionally and mentally strong. All abuse needs is opportunity. We must be careful not to think we are above any circumstance or experience. Don’t be like I was. Open your eyes and heart to be able to see and understand what is currently beyond your experience. Remember, people in toxic relationships aren’t stupid — they’re stuck.