If you are in a toxic relationship, leaving can be a daunting possibility. Take these 3 steps to support your physical and emotional safety.

Woman write "bye" in lipstick, signaling to leave her toxic relationship
You may feel trapped in a toxic relationship. Don’t worry, there are ways to leave!
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Step 1: Recognize a Relationship is Toxic and Commit to Leaving

Most toxic relationships are not toxic one hundred percent of the time. This can make it difficult to realize someone is toxic for you. You can love someone and have many happy memories with them, even if they’re toxic. You and your partner can also be toxic for each other, without being “bad” people. Identifying that someone you love is toxic takes a lot of self-reflection and self-awareness.

You’re reading this article. That tells me there’s something toxic in your life, and you may already have a hunch about what it is. Follow your intuition. Listen to the red flags popping off in your head. Take some time to yourself to build self-love and reflect on what you want out of your relationship. Be honest with yourself, is your relationship still serving you? Or is it toxic?

Step 2: Reach Out to Your Support System to Help You Leave Your Toxic Relationship

Two friends hug to support each other through leaving a toxic relationship
Don’t let isolation keep you from reaching out to friends and relatives to help you leave a toxic relationship.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.

If you have been in a toxic relationship for a lengthy period, you potentially feel isolated from your support system. This is especially true if your family and friends have been vocal about your partner’s mistrust in the past. Abusers often isolate their victims from their support system. Feeling isolated from anyone but their abusive partner makes it less likely for a victim to leave.

Chances are, it would delight your loved ones to support you in leaving your toxic relationship. Victims of abuse may feel their former support system would be too mad to want to help, hurt by months or years of limited contact. This is typically not the case. The friends and families of domestic abuse victims often wait anxiously to save a loved one from their toxic relationship.

There are also community members trained as mandated reporters, like doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, human resources reps, etc., receive training for identifying and supporting victims of abuse. Even if you’ve lost contact with your family, mandated reporters provide you access to support through your community.

Step 3: Make a Plan So You’re Less Likely to Return to a Toxic Relationship Once You Leave

A man with arms out embracing freedom after leaving his toxic relationship
Many people return to toxic relationships after they leave.
Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

It is often difficult for those who have never been victims of abuse to understand why someone would return to a toxic relationship. Every layer of society and culture contains barriers that keep victims from separating themselves from toxic relationships. The period directly after leaving a toxic partner is a dangerous time, physically and emotionally. 

Make a plan with your loved ones and design strategies to support you during this time to stay strong and assert your freedom. Consider your physical safety. What likelihood is it your partner will react violently to you leaving? Make a plan for handling physical altercations and prevent life-threatening situations.

Think about money. I know someone who’s husband withdrew and spent all the money in their savings account before documenting the balances in the divorce paperwork. This left her without access to important resources needed to support her and her daughters after finally leaving her toxic relationship. Make a plan for saving money, so financial dependence doesn’t keep you trapped in a toxic situation.

If you believe you are in a toxic relationship, you are not alone! There is a wealth of resources available that can help you leave, heal, and move on with your life. You deserve love and respect, don’t let a toxic partner convince you otherwise!