Statistics show that it takes people in a toxic relationship at least 7 attempts to leave before they’re able to do it. Why is it so hard to leave? What can people do to help themselves?
This week, toxic relationship specialist Heidi Brocke joins the podcast again to discuss how to leave a toxic relationship and what her best and life-saving strategies are.
In This Episode
What do we mean when we talk about a “toxic relationship? What does “toxic” mean according to Dr. Heidi?
Toxic is not a diagnosis. You won’t find a checklist on Google.
A toxic relationship is a personal definition – a relationship that, in the status that it’s in, is unhealthy for you physically, mentally, or emotionally.
You decide for yourself which relationships are healthy for you and which are toxic for you.
In abusive relationships, on average it takes the abused spouse 7 attempts to leave. What is so difficult about leaving this type of relationship?
To outsiders, there can be a misconception when they see someone try to leave so many times but keep coming back. Toxic relationships have a lot of emotional abuse.
The person who is causing the toxic relationship steps into the relationship in order to feel secure. Emotional abuse works for them when they can elicit a response from you with certain behaviors that will make them feel in control and secure. The result is that the abused person becomes emotionally dependent on the toxic person to tell them how to feel.
For anyone looking to leave a toxic relationship – guilt is a powerful emotion and your toxic partner will use it to get you to stay. When you are preparing to leave, you will often here phrases from your partner like “I can’t believe you’re breaking up our family” and “how can you throw away everything we’ve built?”. These are tactics they use to gain control of your emotions and once they instill this feeling of guilt, you will do anything you can to get rid of it which ultimately means staying.
There is never a good time to leave – it is easier to stay in something familiar than to go into something new. There are so many “what ifs” and people can reason with themselves that it’s easier to stay in the familiar environment where they know how to survive rather than jump into the unknown.
Is there a danger in discounting toxic behaviors when you are planning to leave?
Toxic behaviors escalate when the toxic person stops seeing a response. For example, a toxic spouse may call their partner a terrible name for 15 days and by the 16th day, their spouse isn’t reacting to it. That emotional response was the toxic person’s security and now they need to find another way to get it so they pick a nastier name, start throwing things, blocking doorways, and finally physically abuse. When the abused spouse decides to leave, this will lead to an escalation of the toxic behaviors – bigger, louder, and meaner.
Exit Plans – there is no cookie-cutter exit plan when leaving a toxic relationship.
What’s the first step in leaving a relationship? Deciding to leave a toxic relationship is a years-long process that ther person leaving needs to mentally prepare themselves for. When a client approaches Dr. Heidi looking for validation on whether their relationship is toxic, she will often talk them through it as well as start working on an exit plan so that they feel they are working toward something.
For anyone looking to leave a toxic relationship – no one knows your toxic partner like you do so you will know best what will work for you.
Exit Plan-Making Tips
Do your research about toxic behaviors in secret
If possible, get a phone in your own name
Start getting the paperwork together – birth certificates, marriage certificates, immunization records for kids, social security cards, and passports as well as any and all financial documents. If you don’t want to take originals, make copies. Keep them somewhere safe, preferably out of the house. If you are wondering if you should have a copy of a certain document, get it. Better to have too much than too little.
If possible, print off your financial statements with the date every few weeks. Toxic people want to keep control and the moment they feel like something might be happening to change that, they will start moving money around to keep you.
Collect anything that’s sentimental to you. Anything you have an emotional connection to will be the first thing the toxic partner goes for.
Make a list of everything in each room that you want and be generous toward the toxic spouse here because stuff can be replaced. You don’t know when you’ll be ready/able to go but when the day comes, having these lists will help you get out as fast as possible. Then you can just walk out.
Have a safety bag ready to go – have a bag ready with extra keys, an extra garage door opener, money, spare clothes, and other spare necessities. If the toxic partner takes your purse, having this bag enables you to get out anyway.
You have no reason to tell the toxic person that you are leaving. Your rule book might be telling you to do that but by doing that, you can escalate the situation and make it impossible to leave. Better to leave when they’re out of the house.
You don’t always have to see the full picture before you take the leap – even if you don’t know what will happen next, you need to find the opportunity to leave and take it.
When you are leaving, forget about everything good and focus on the bad to keep you motivated to get out of there.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
After 23 years in healthcare practicing as a primary care physician, Doctor ofChiropractic, and acupuncturist, Dr/ Heidi Brocke continues to expand her professional reaches into the realm of toxic relationship healing. Emotional abuse awareness and healing is her specialty as she not only has had extensive experience working with those whose lives have been affected by emotional and narcissistic abuse but she herself is a survivor as well which makes her very relatable and trusted by clients and followers.
Mandy Walker is a divorce mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® based in Boulder, Colorado. She works with individuals and couples helping them to end their relationships with dignity and respect, creating an understanding of the process and their options so they can feel confident in the decisions they’re making.