There are times when you are at a fork in the road and must consider ending a toxic or abusive relationship. It could be a sibling, a parent, or cousin, friend or lover. It could be you have tolerated inappropriate behavior for a long time and have given them a lot of grace, but it is beginning to affect your mental health and emotions.

First you have to understand why you tolerate their behavior. You may have trouble standing up for yourself and may even feel like you don’t have the right to say something. It could be that you fear them harming themselves if you leave or you aren’t certain where the boundaries lie. It could also be that your view of yourself will go down if you end it. You think you are supposed to always give regardless or maybe you think a failed relationship is a reflection on you.

There are solid reasons to end a toxic relationship. Ending the relationship could teach the other person there are consequences to bad behavior. It shows that people will not tolerate it. You teach people how to treat you and ending the relationship demonstrates your boundaries.

You may feel better about yourself and ending an abusive relationship helps you regain power over your life. Finally, you will benefit long-term for knowing that you don’t have to allow this type of behavior in your life.

There are five steps to follow through on to end an emotionally draining, abusive relationship.

  1. Figure out if you are being emotionally abuses. Does being around the person make you uncomfortable or do you feel numb when you interact with them? Does their comments produce a physical reaction like a nervous reaction or cringing? Does thinking about the humiliation case an emotional or physical response? Does life without them seem safer or more peaceful.
  2. Imagine what life would be like without them. You may not realize that life could be incredibly different without the abuse. Is it peaceful? Are you happy? It is relaxing? Really identifying what life would look like can help mentally prepare you for breaking up. It suddenly doesn’t seem so scary.
  3. Give them one chance. You will need to tell the person that their behavior must change or you will leave. There could be a bad reaction and, if there is a full rage explosion, you need to leave immediately. For those who may be in real danger, you may want to leave without telling the person. You don’t have to take their calls. The decision is up to you.
  4. Include close friends or family in your decision. They likely already know about the abuse and can offer good feedback. It is important to express your thinking to them rather than isolating yourself out of embarrassment or shame.
  5. Talk to a therapist. They are there to help you work through the problem to come to a solution. A therapist can validate your situation, give you some insight and connect the dots from your early childhood experiences to the present situation.

Understanding that you don’t deserve abuse and are worthy of love and respect is key to ending a toxic relationship. Change may be difficult, especially if you’ve been together for a long time, but getting out of such a relationship is the first step to healing.