If your friend has outright come to you for help and is asking for your advice, then there are things you can do to help a loved one living in a toxic situation.
One of the first things you can do is to be a patient listener. Let them know that you are hearing what they are sharing and that you will be there to support whatever they decide to do. Remind them that they deserve respect, honesty, and open communication. And if it is abusive (physical, emotional, or spiritual), try to help them see that abuse, in any form, is never okay – and that it’s not their fault, ever.
When they accept that this is their actual situation and are ready for action, suggest they move out immediately. Help them do so in a safe manner. If it warrants it, get the proper authorities involved. A friend once commented to a victim, “How free do you want to be?” Leaving the decision to act accordingly in their hands.
Hiring a professional moving company is a good way to make a move happen safely. Since they typically do not know you and your friend, they will be able to avoid getting caught up in the “drama” or succumbing to the toxic person’s potential bullying during moving day.
Here’s a quick list of suggestions on how to be of further support:
- Offer or find them a safe space to stay
- Help them remember what “normal” looks like
- Understand that leaving will most likely be complicated, and be available to support them through it
- Validate and allow them to express their feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, etc.
- Maintain and explain boundaries (one thing that is severely lacking in toxic households is secure, well-defined boundaries)
- Distract them and plan a day with some normal fun activities that they used to enjoy before the relationship
- Encourage them to seek out professional help from a therapist
- Do not be afraid to call the police if lines are crossed in a deeply concerning way
- Take care of yourself too! As the airline saying go, “Put your mask on first, before helping other passengers” (or something like that)
Barrie Sueskind, a therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in relationships, shares some key signs of toxicity:
- Self-absorption or self-centeredness
- Manipulation and other emotional abuse
- Dishonesty and deceit
- Difficulty offering compassion to others
- A tendency to create drama or conflict
Sound like a familiar person in your life? Let’s look at some tips below on how to respond to this type of behavior.
How do you deal with a toxic living situation?
Living in a toxic household can be emotionally and physically draining. It can add years to your life versus adding life to your years. It can be so stressful and toxic that it becomes a PTSD situation. For example, one woman was going through a divorce with an extremely toxic and narcissistic husband. He turned emotionally violent and became physically threatening throughout their nine-month-long divorce as they still lived together.
She was fortunate to have friends that supported her in the ways suggested above and made it through alive. She continues to utilize those tools when dealing with him as they have children together. If you are a person living through this type of toxic situation, below are a few tips to consider:
- Stick to reality
- Don’t join in with their insanity (don’t take the bait!)
- Understand your own feelings
- Talk to them, avoid arguments
- Prioritize your needs first
- Don’t try to fix them
- Walk away as much as possible
- Stay neutral, and don’t get caught up in their diversion tactics
- Be unavailable
- Limit your time together
Suppose the situation is such that you cannot avoid the toxic person. In that case, it is important to remember to maintain your boundaries and not allow the toxic person to dictate the terms of your relationship. In addition, it is important to remember that the toxic person’s behavior is not your fault and that you do not have to take responsibility for their actions.
When dealing with a toxic person, it is important to remember to be mindful of your own emotional and physical safety. Make sure that you are in safe environments, away from potential violence or abuse. It is also important to remember that it is okay to say “no” or to set boundaries for yourself and the toxic person. You can also seek outside support from family or friends who can provide emotional and practical support. A woman once put a bolt and lock on her bedroom door to keep the abuser out until the divorce was final.
In addition, it is important to find positive outlets for yourself and to develop healthy coping mechanisms. This could be engaging in calming hobbies or connecting with supportive people who can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for you. It is also important to remember that there are people and resources out there who can provide support.
Charities that help with moving expenses
Moving can be a very stressful and expensive process. Especially if you are escaping an abusive or toxic household, it can be troubling. However, worrying about the cost of renting a moving truck or hiring movers is only a fraction of what you have to contend with.
This is where charities that help with moving expenses come in handy. They provide financial assistance to low-income individuals and families facing the high cost of moving. Sometimes, they may even offer free storage for your belongings until you find a new home. So if you’re in an emergency situation and cannot afford to hire but need professional movers, consider reaching out to one of these charities for help:
- The United Way offers a program called 2-1-1 that can provide you with a list of charities that help people with moving expenses
- The Red Cross may be able to provide you with financial assistance for moving expenses related to a disaster
- Operation Homefront helps military families relocate when they are transferred to a new duty station
- Habitat for Humanity can help you build or improve your home if you’re unable to afford it on your own
- The YMCA provides scholarships for members who need to relocate due to a job transfer or other unforeseen circumstance
- Catholic Charities
- Housing Industry Foundation’s Emergency Housing Fund
- VA housing assistance
- Salvation Army
- HUD housing and rental assistance
How to help a friend living in a toxic situation
Moving out of a toxic environment can be a difficult and challenging process, but it is a surefire way to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved. Remember, there are resources available to help you. Seek professional help, connect with trusted friends and family, utilize available charities and support networks, and always maintain boundaries with the toxic person to ensure you are safe and secure.