It’s not everyone that can handle a toxic relationship without being hurt emotionally, mentally, and physically. Anyone can be a victim of a toxic relationship and it’s often difficult to pull away from a toxic person if the victim is not fully determined.
In her view on the issue, a married woman, Mrs Oluwadamilola Adebola, said that anyone could experience a toxic relationship, noting that for her she cannot handle it. She advised people in such a relationship not to ignore any early warning signs before getting married.
She said, “I have never asked anyone how they handle their toxic relationships because for me, as far as I am concerned, I cannot endure a toxic relationship. I will advise anyone in a toxic relationship to walk out of such a relationship, be it a man or a woman. Anybody can be in the situation because mostly, ladies say they are victims of toxic relationships but guys also experience it.
“In every toxic relationship or marriage, there would be a sign from courtship or along the line; it can’t just start in a day. Though men can pretend, if you date or court some men for 20 years, you can’t know them until you are married to them. It’s a fact and women don’t tend to pretend for long. For instance, if you step on a lady, she will easily react but men will even be the ones to apologise to you because of what they want. Men tend to pretend longer than women.”
Adebola also advised people in toxic relationships to walk out of them and think of their mental health, stating that it was better off being alone than being subjected to mental stress.
She added, “As for me, I can’t handle a toxic relationship because I am emotional towards little things not to talk of a toxic relationship. I also can’t handle a difficult man. I don’t understand why people say men are polygamous in nature because I don’t believe in such an idea. There are things to do in life, though it’s not easy to be alone which I don’t pray for anyone. But at the same time, mental health is paramount to me. I do think of my parents twice before I do anything.”
Also, in her view on the matter, a lady, Christiana Maxwell, said that toxic people have a way of manipulating their partners by making it difficult for them to leave such marriages. She stated that such persons trapped in such unions should find a way out of them.
Maxwell said, “I was once in a toxic relationship, I didn’t leave but what made me leave eventually was because I found someone who showered me with intense love and care. He wasn’t toxic at all. The new relationship made me forget him so fast. I ended things with him and it worked for me. I won’t advise anyone to stay in a toxic union. It’s best for him or her to call the relationship quits. One thing about toxic people is that they make one dependent on them; they manipulate one in ways one can’t imagine leaving them. So in this way, one can’t fully detach oneself from them. Leave and never return. Block them on social media platforms and make your mobile inaccessible to them, it won’t be easy but leaving is the best for your mental health.’’
Also, a businessman, Mr Lanre Adewunmi, said that there were different levels of toxicity in relationships, counseling victims to leave the relationships they noticed toxicity and violence.
He said, “There are different definitions to a toxic relationship. A relationship can be defined as being toxic when it involves hatred, violence, dishonesty, irresponsibility, and others. It depends on the level of toxicity in the relationship. Once it involves violence, I will advise such a person to leave the relationship at all costs. I advise couples to address the issue. The victims in such unions should communicate with their partners.”
Adewunmi urged couples to see a psychologist to identify triggers to the toxicity and find solutions.
He stated, “In this case, a psychologist is the best professional to see, it will help the toxic person to identify what he or she is doing that’s toxic and it will also help the other person to know what to do at that point. The psychologist will offer the best solution to the couples.”
Commenting on the development, a relationship counselor, Mrs Tosin Togun, said that to be able to handle a toxic relationship, the party involved should understand certain things.
Togun added, “A toxic relationship is one in which the human rights of parties involved in the relationship are being truncated or not recognised consistently as the relationship progresses. Individuals in this kind of relationship constantly feel drained as it can lead to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. To be able to handle a toxic relationship, the party involved must first understand the following; his or her basic rights, how a toxic relationship begins, the signs or how to identify a toxic relationship, reasons why people remain in a toxic relationship, and how to break from it.’’
She listed signs of a toxic relationship to include neglect or emotional gap, emotional cheating, infidelity, inconsistency, violence, abuse and violence.
She said “With all these, it will amaze you to see that some people prefer to stay in toxic relationships, neglecting their hurt or displeasure. Interestingly, all efforts by significant others might prove abortive but when you know why some people stick to abusive relationships, you can easily identify with them from their perspectives and this might help you in helping the person. Some people stay in a toxic relationship due to: unhealthy or negative self-perception, emotional/sexual attachment, fear of loneliness, ignorance, pride, parental or peer pressure and many more.”
Togun also gave tips on how to handle or effectively break away from toxic relationships.
She noted, “The first thing to do is to be aware that a toxic relationship will only yield to greater abuse in marriage, most especially in the absence of psychological help or professional counselling. Practising assertive communication also helps. The parties will be able to bring their opinions, pains, plans, etc during a conversation.
“Repeat the assertive communications process; Change is a process; patience is greatly needed to see change take place. If the first assertive communication fails to achieve its aim, the victims should repeat the process again. Finally separation, if the abuse continues after the aforementioned steps are taken, it is expedient that the victims separate physically and emotionally from the toxic unions. This is vital to protect their fundamental rights, healed from such relationships, allow the perpetrators to decide if they still want the relationships and for them to seek required professional help.”
On his part, a professor of social-psychology at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, James Effiong, said that emotional violence was sometimes better than physical violence.
Effiong said, “Usually, people who are abusive in relationships seem not to have a sense of fulfillment in what they have achieved already. What I have noticed to a large extent is that it’s a continuous process and once they have labelled somebody victims in their subconscious, they tend to feed their abuses on the person.
“Somehow and sometimes, emotional violence can be far worse than physical violence because most times the damage of the physical violence is done to the body. It’s easier for the person to escape. But the emotional violence, depending on the severity, sometimes has an impact on the person’s psychological wellbeing. The psychological well-being of a person is important.”
The lecturer added that there were two ways of toxicity in a relationship, saying it could be a situation where a partner is violent or where there is a victim and a perpetrator.
“There are situations when the toxicity comes from the two ends when both partners are violent and abusive. At that level, they have an understanding. Nobody is the victim and nobody is the perpetrator. Anytime they fight, they have an understanding. There are also situations where there is a clear victim and a perpetrator.”
He also said that domestic violence was not violence against women but violence against the victim because some men could be victims more than women.
He stated, “The problem is that most men don’t speak up. In a situation where there is a power imbalance, the first thing to do is to involve a third party. The third party should be a person with higher influence and it can be from the church. The third party should be someone who has intent over the perpetrator, to the extent they can advise and use other means to enforce some sort of respect. The perpetrator also needs to undergo counselling and therapy. Handling such a situation comes with persuasion.
“Therapy is important because therapy will help to understand why the perpetrator sees the victim as someone that should be abused. Most perpetrators lack regard for their victims and they are only perpetrators to certain people.”
He further advised the victims to speak up, saying “After he or she speaks up, they should seek help. What can he or she do? There are millions of people in the world who experience violence and no one knows about it. Lastly, he or she should seek an expert to help him or her on how to handle the situation.’’