Unfortunately, abusive relationships are not exclusive to that of a romantic or sexual nature. They are not reserved for couples or Ex’s
It can be harder to recognise and ACCEPT that abuse is coming from a friend or family, than it is to identify abuse from a romantic partner or colleague.
I have experienced many forms of toxicity from friends and family over the years. I allowed it to happen because I wasn’t aware of my self-worth, so I pretended like it wasn’t there, or worked really hard to ‘fix it’ and make it go away by pleasing the abuser or toxic person.
Abuse can come in the form of toxic dynamics, masked manipulation and control, uncomfortable undercurrents, nasty subtleties, or obvious abusive behaviours.
Let’s make one thing clear. Every relationship you have should be healthy, there should be mutual respect and empowerment. There should be freedom in your mind when you are around, talking to, or thinking about that person. If you don’t have complete calm in your mind when in the presence of a friend or family member – this may be a sign that they are abusive or toxic to you.
Sometimes we dismiss our feelings because it is harder to call out a friend or family member or we might be dismissed or feel we are being too sensitive.
In my experience, some people were aware of their behaviours and some weren’t. Some even twisted the story to justify the behaviours… either way… it doesn’t make it okay.
Here are a few signs to look out for to help you validate that what you are experiencing is abuse or toxicity.
1. They don’t love you wholly and they disrespect you
They disrespect and question, disregard, dismiss, or make fun of one or many aspects of you. It may be your appearance, your choices, your job, your ideas, your value, and your experiences. Instead of supporting you, they do the opposite.
2. You are not taken seriously
On the times that you have spoken to them about their behaviour or words they ‘gaslight’. They say things like “you need to lighten up”, or “I know I didn’t mean it that way”. They dismiss your very valid and real feelings.
3. The thought about standing up for yourself makes you uncomfortable
You may have tried or not tried to get them to change their behaviour and words, but either way the thought of doing so makes you feel anxious or sick. You feel like they have such a strong hold and that approaching them about it, it will just get worse.
4. You put a whole heap of effort in to make them happy
Your life seems easier when they are happy. You are walking on eggshells and you can’t relax and not be concerned with how they are feeling about you. You do things that seem out of the ‘norm’ to make them happy. You try and gauge how they are feeling about you so you can do something to ‘fix’ if they are unhappy with you.
5. They are a Martyr
It doesn’t feel like they are supporting you when they say it is out of concern and in your best interests that they do so. Even though it may be none of their business and not affecting their life, they still make comment and try and control your behaviours in ‘your best interests’.
– Abbey McKenna (The Parenting Co)