In a lot of toxic relationships, people have their guard down. When their friend or partner does something that hurts them, the victim doesn't notice, Cortney Backes said. Backes is the vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega, whose national philanthropy focuses on domestic violence awareness.
Although it is normal for all relationships to have highs and lows, there is a line when the lows have gone too far.
Because signals of toxic relationships can go unnoticed, if you are the one in a relationship, it is important to be informed about red flags and what to do if you find yourself in that position.
First things first, are they possessive?
Anasia Sturdivant, youth and family domestic abuse advocacy coordinator at ACCESS, a local assault and care center, said a common red flag is isolation.
“[Domestic abuse] is not just physical," she said. "It can also be shown by keeping people away from friends or things they like to do and monitoring their movement."
Stephanie Hernandez, senior in animal ecology, said she had a toxic relationship with a former friend who would find issues with her spending time with anyone besides her.
Although it may appear as them showing how much they care for you, at the end of the day, it is unhealthy for someone to limit your world in order for you to focus on them.
Second, does the relationship lack trust?
“[Alpha Chi Omega] has a guest speaker come in to present on healthy and unhealthy relationships for Healthy Relationships Week, and one thing they always state is to make sure there is mutual trust between partners,” Backes said.
For example, if your partner is always anxious whenever you glance at their phone, that could be a red flag, she said.
Even if it’s not on purpose, if a person can’t hold themselves accountable for their wrongdoings, they lack integrity and respect for their partner, and that is not a relationship anyone should be in.
Third, do they put the blame on you?
Being made to feel guilty or crazy by your partner is another red flag, Sturdivant said.
This can be shown by being made to feel bad when you spend time with other people or even something as innocent as going home for a weekend and leaving them behind.
Hernandez had a relationship earlier this year where her partner was always texting another girl around her.
When she confronted him about it, he would tell her she was being crazy or jealous, even though her gut was telling her to be concerned.
After she ended the relationship, she found out that her suspicions weren’t far off.
While these three red flags are just the tip of the iceberg, it is important to know what to do if you find yourself in a situation like these.
The best thing you can do is talk to someone about it.
If you are the person someone is confiding in, it is important to believe them and be supportive.
Telling that person what to do or telling them to leave them will cause that person to shut down and not open up about it again, Sturdivant said.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need more help than support from friends, it is crucial to seek outside help. To contact ACCESS, call 515-292-0519 or 515-292-5378 for its crisis line.