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Leave. Get out.

The different stages of abusive behaviours in relationships and how they are affecting mental health

CW: This article discusses topics of mental health, toxic relationships, abusive behaviours, depression, anxiety and suicide which some may find triggering and distressing.

How toxic relationships are affecting mental health

The consequences of a toxic relationship on mental health are not something that should be underestimated, how and why do we feel unable to free ourselves from this undoubtedly unhealthy environment?

Why is mental health so important?

Humans' well-being is synced to our emotions in how we behave, think and feel, we are often so busy that we forget to enjoy the little things in life such as self-care or relaxation. Mental health is a key component to a happy fulfilling life, there are multiple factors affecting mental health such as past trauma or perhaps social disadvantages in life. In this case, I feel it is necessary to shine some light on toxic relationships and different personalities and behaviours which should be noticed as toxic and a sign to get out. The association between mental health and relationships plays a crucial role in life and demonstrates how important taking care of our minds really is. But when we find ourselves in an unhealthy relationship why do we feel as though we cannot leave?

How it starts...

When we think about factors affecting mental health we often do not initially recognise toxic relationships as one. However, dysfunctional relationships slowly but surely pick away at mental health creating a draining environment and result in emotional responses from stress to even suicide in extreme cases. In the initial phase of unhealthy relationships, the manipulator usually showers their victim with materialistic goods and masks away their true self as a way to ensure the victim cannot leave when they reveal their true toxic tendencies. The victim's mental health is usually at a high as they have begun what they believe to be a happy relationship. One study published by Psychology Today in 2017 found statistics showing that 60% of teenagers feel as though they have been in a toxic relationship.

You spend most of your life in your head, make it a nice place.

The Narcissist

You will go from being the perfect love of their life to nothing you do is good enough.

The one who constantly makes you feel as though you are crazy, insane, and absurd. When in fact your feelings are very much rational and valid. The perpetrator always behaves as though they are in the right in all situations and convinces you that you are stupid for believing otherwise. The urge to feel superior and mask their flaws away through aggressive and abusive measures. Beginning to break away at your mental health as you begin to feel as though you are not worthy or valued, when you very much are.

The Emotionally Manipulative

Manipulative people are those who wish to be loved on their own terms.

The one who dismisses your feelings, begins to isolate you away from friends and family members, embarrasses you, controls you, and makes you feel belittled. The manipulator makes the victim feel uncertain and unsure via multiple methods of manipulation and abuse, for example, making unpleasant and cruel remarks about them and then demanding the victim to grow up and "take a joke". Unfortunately, this negatively affects feelings of self-worth and leads the victim to constantly question themselves which begins to chip away at their mental well-being even more.

The Liar

When your ears hear one thing, but your heart says another.

The one who you are not sure is ever telling the truth, gaslights you, guilt trips you, all into believing them otherwise you would be considered the 'psychopath'. The liar tends to worm their way out of situations by manipulating their victim into believing the lie, even though generally the victim recognises these lies, it is much easier to accept and believe the lie. Research has highlighted that lying behaviours in relationships have gone beyond causing mental distress but even physical health concerns. At this stage of the relationship, the victim's mental health is no longer intact.

The Cheat

They choose to cheat because of who they are not.

The one that is now bored, the one that seeks a new victim to play with, you are now left in the dark left to cope alone yet you beg for them to stay because this is all you know now, your sense of self-worth is diminished. With the need for self-gratification from multiple others, the cheat tends to present characteristics such as poor impulse control or potentially a lack of character and integrity. Your heart is broken, your chest is tight and you feel nauseous. Your mental-wellbeing feels destroyed. You feel as though you cannot get out as your original beliefs of self-worth and strong character have died.


Sometimes the bravest, most difficult, and most life-changing things lie not in what we do, but in what we stop doing.

Abusive personality traits such as the ones discussed above can have a detrimental impact on mental health, they can cause much mental harm and result in serious consequences such as anxiety, depression and potentially suicide. The manipulator steadily breaks down the barriers of the victim's character and happiness in order to tie them down and ensure that they will not leave, for their own personal benefit. The link between toxic relationships and mental health has proven to be transparent as research has highlighted how powerful and intense relationships can be on people's mental and physical health. Mental health should be a priority to ensure that we function at our full potential and experience happiness, therefore we have to be more mindful of the situations we are putting ourselves in and learn to let go of the ones that are bad for us.


How toxic relationships are affecting mental health

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