ORLANDO, Fla. – One in four women are in a physically abusive relationship. One in two women have been psychologically abused by their significant other.
A friend, a boss or a romantic partner — chances are you’ve been in an unhealthy relationship with someone at one time or another.
“It made me question who I was,” Mary Mitchell said. “I felt like a liar because people thought that I had a perfect life.”
“I shut that down and didn’t feel,” said Kim Stewart.
But how do you know when an uncomfortable situation is becoming unhealthy?
“One that comes to mind automatically is abusive, so physically abusive, verbally abusive, sexually abusive, mentally abusive, financially abusive — all of those things,” explained Cherlette McCullough, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Some signs of a toxic person in your life: They constantly tease you, they pressure to do things you don’t want to do, they demand all of your attention, they’re jealous of your other important relationships, they always blame you, they ask you to lie or cover for them, or they gaslight you.
“What gaslighting is, is it’s actually making a person feel like what really causes them emotional harm is really not true,” McCullough said.
So how can you escape an unhealthy relationship? First: build a support system of family and friends to help you. Make a detailed plan and follow through. If you want out, be honest and cut contact for good. If you’ve made your decision to end the relationship, stick to it. It might help to journal your emotions during this time, and therapy can also be a good resource for helping you heal and move on.
If you’re in an abusive situation, you should seek help without delay. The National Domestic Violence hotline offers free, confidential support 24/7. That number is 800-799-7233.
If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, here’s a list of local resources available:
- The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, which will direct you to the nearest shelter, is 1-800-500-1119.
- Hubbard House Hotline (904) 354-3114 or Textline (904) 210-3698.
- The Micah’s Place (Nassau County) Domestic Violence Help Hotline is 904-225-9979.
- The Quigley House (Clay County) hotline is 904-284-0061.
- The Betty Griffin Center (St. Johns County) can be reached at 904-824-1555.
Contributors to this news report include Julie Marks, producer, and Roque Correa, videographer and editor.