A toxic relationship doesn’t always leave physical injuries; sometimes you are left with mental scars. The rates of mental health disorders like PTSD in abused women are between 31% to 84%. If you’re in a toxic relationship, you may not know just how much it affects your mental wellbeing.
Keep reading to learn about the impact of toxic relationships on mental health and how to find help.
Types of Toxic Partners and Relationship Types
Unhealthy relationships take on many different shapes and forms. These are some of the types of toxic partners and relationship types you may experience.
A controlling partner will attempt to control a person’s life by insisting on access to their computer, phone, and social media. They might limit the number of people who can come around or what family members are a part of their lives. This is often bred from feelings of jealousy or the need for power.
Less obvious signs of a controlling partner are crossing boundaries, offering conditional love, refusing to accept responsibility for harmful actions, trying to control education or career paths, or pushing someone to do things (often sexually) that they don’t want to do.
“Gaslighting” is a term that refers to mental abuse that makes a person second guess their reality. In toxic relationships, a person may refuse facts, convenience someone they don’t remember correctly, belittle situations, deny any wrongdoing, divert attention away from tough conversations, or talk in generalizations. A victim of gaslighting experiences significant anxiety, trust issues, have difficulty making decisions on their own, apologizes continuously, and feels overly sensitive.
The Energy Vampire
Misery loves company. Energy vampires require a lot of time because they have a pessimistic outlook or tear down others and bleed them dry emotionally. They will often counter positive situations with something negative and rarely have anything nice to say.
These are toxic relationships as people often look to “fix” energy vampires but ultimately get torn down in the process. These people need professional help from a mental health specialist, not a significant other.
A partner who cheats will often deflect and act as if they had no choice in the matter. A cheating partner may say things like, “Well, if you showed me more affection, I would have to find it elsewhere.” This puts all the blame on the other person.
While the word “abuse” may make you think of hitting, punching, or other types of physical harm, abuse also comes in the form of mental and emotional damage. Domestic abuse isn’t always blatant.
Physically abusive partners often have more than one side to their person. They may be charismatic, gentle, and likable in public or around friends, but behind closed doors, they could be violent, easily triggered, and manipulative. Physical abusers know how to hurt someone without leaving visible evidence, which undermines the victim.
Mentally and emotionally abusive partners use a person’s insecurities, thoughts, and ideas to belittle or make others feel weak. It’s easy to miss or excuse the behavior.
Egomaniacs are obsessed with themselves and how others perceive them. If they let others get close enough to see their flaws, they will have a number of reasons to “justify” their toxic behavior. They won’t talk about these flaws beyond this.
They view the people they are dating as extensions of themselves, and therefore, their partners must be “perfect” as well. They may use verbal abuse or manipulation to change others.
The Impact of a Toxic Relationship on Your Mental Health
Unhealthy relationships such as the ones mentioned above can take a serious toll on your mental health. Physical abusers who take out their anger or negative emotions on their partners often escalate to the point of murder. An average of 1,000 to 1,600 women die each year in the U.S as a result of domestic abuse.
Rates of suicide and murder-suicides are higher in households where domestic violence is rampant. Leaving these situations before they escalate to this point can be just as dangerous as staying. Abusers have done their best to isolate their partners, backing them into a corner.
No Support Network
When a person has been in an abusive relationship, they often become isolated from friends, family members, and loved ones outside of their immediate relationship. This leaves the abused person feeling stuck with no way out. Cutting someone off from their network of support causes issues of self-esteem, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, and more.
The longer you stay in a bad relationship your mental health can continue to get worse. Being in a constant state of stress or agitation puts you at a higher risk for depression, sleep disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. In some cases, with prolonged abuse from a young age, victims can develop dissociative disorders.
Make a Safety Plan
A negative partnership inescapable of undermining a person’s willingness to leave as they may believe they are unworthy of help. The U.S. has many sources available such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
You can make a safety plan and learn how to leave and stay protected. A person in a toxic relationship is never without resources.
If you are married to an abuser, you should get legal help. You can get a consultation for a divorce with a law professional and see how to safely get out of your marriage.
Reach Out For Help Today
It’s not always easy to identify a toxic relationship or an unhealthy significant other. Some examples of bad behavior in your partner are gaslighting, manipulation, coercion, blaming, energy-draining, and more. If you’re in a negative partnership or marriage, you can get help from an agency like the NDVH or a lawyer to safety escape.
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