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Are you worried your friend might be in a toxic relationship?

Often, people in the middle of a toxic relationship have a hard time seeing it for what it is. This is because nobody is always abusive.

The nice/mean cycle — a hallmark of these relationships — creates a trauma bond with the toxic person and a lot of confusion for the victim.

It's important to speak up! Just make sure you're being helpful rather than judgmental.

Talking About It

Man with shoulder length curly hair making eye contact and listening. You've observed that your friend isn't being treated right and you have concerns. It's highly likely that they've already felt like something is wrong, but they've pushed these feelings down.

You can bring up the topic in a way that feels authentic to your friendship and that doesn't put your friend on the defensive.

The exact tone of the conversation and the words you choose will depend on how you usually interact with your friend. Let your intuition guide you.

Conversations with a survivor about their situation can be hard: they may not want to discuss the abuse they’re experiencing for any number of reasons, including fear, shame, or even concern for their partner who has abusive behavior.

Validate Feelings

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  • You can validate their feelings even if you disagree with them.

  • Let your friend know you understand what they're saying and feeling.

  • Try not to be judgmental if you think your friend should leave the relationship but it turns out that they're actually ambivalent about it.

Validation doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with another’s subjective reality. Validation simply allows another person’s emotional state a space to exist.

What Do You Think?

I need to talk to you about something.

Asha has a new boyfriend named Xander. Asha's best friend Martina notices that Xander says things that embarrass Asha when they're all together.

A couple of nights ago Xander told Asha, "Your new pants probably looked hot on the model but you can't help it if you're butt is flat!" Asha looked close to tears and shot Martina a look that said, "Ignore him!"

Martina wants to talk to Asha about what happened. Which approach should Martina take?

A. "You should break up with Xander. He's a #$&!"

B. "Asha, I know you care about Xander but I'm worried about the way he talks to you."


Which is the best way for Martina to bring up Xander's behavior to Asha?

Take Action

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