I Felt Stuck In My Toxic Relationship With No Way Out

When you’re in a toxic or abusive relationship, it’s common to hear advice from friends and family that comes down to “just get out!” They mean well, sure, but it’s really not that easy—I learned that firsthand.

  1. My ex threatened me. He didn’t threaten me by saying he’d hurt me, he kept saying he’d hurt himself. He usually did this during fights when he thought I was going to walk away. Sometimes, I felt really bad for him and worried that he’d take his own life, which caused me to turn a blind eye to his bad behavior. In hindsight, I see that those threats were manipulation.
  2. I was afraid of his reaction. When I finally decided I had to get out because this guy was draining my mind, body, and soul, I was terrified of how he’d react. I knew that a face-to-face breakup was out of the question because I didn’t trust him. I hated the idea of ending things with someone via text or not actually breaking up at all (more on that later), but I felt like I had no choice.
  3. He’d lost his cool with others before. I’d seen how crazy this guy could behave. He was quite scary when he lost his cool, and he was quick to become angry. He totally snapped sometimes and I was afraid of being on the receiving end of that behavior, especially since he was so clingy and controlling of me when we were together. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get him to cut me loose.
  4. I didn’t trust him one bit. When I started hearing stories about him punching one of his exes in the face, I knew that it was time to leave. However, I didn’t want to do so in such a way that he’d hurt me physically or otherwise.
  5. He had friends who enabled his bad behavior while I had no one. He had toxic friends who always backed him up, no matter how bad his behavior was. This was scary because I didn’t really have many people in my corner during that time of my life. I can’t really blame anyone for that except myself since I cut out my support system for him. When I started dating this guy, my friends and family had expressed their lack of approval for him but I didn’t listen. I’d bought his “nice guy” act. What a stupid mistake.
  6. I had to go back to them with my tail between my legs. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was get back in touch with the family and friends I’d pushed away during my relationship and ask them for their help. It’s impossible to get out of a dangerous or toxic situation alone—you need help. They were shocked to hear that I was still dating such a possessive guy who treated me so badly, but they didn’t judge me.
  7. They helped me to get away from him. I was lucky that my loved ones really cared for me and were ready to help me with anything I needed, whether that included a place to stay (because the guy knew where I lived and I was afraid he’d stalk me after our breakup), a shoulder to cry on, or someone who just had my back in general. This not only helped me in a practical sense but it was such a huge help mentally. I finally felt like I was ready to take the leap and get all the way out of that horrible relationship.
  8. I wanted to run but couldn’t. The tricky thing about leaving a toxic relationship in which you’re afraid of your ex and what they could do is that you have to act slowly and carefully. I wanted to hurry up and move on from him but I had to take my time and pace myself so that I didn’t make him angry. Basically, I had to fade out of his life so that he’d get the hint that things were coming to an end or he’d realize he wanted out. This was done to protect myself and it took time.
  9. Eventually, he left me alone. It took him several weeks to get the hint that he had to move on. Throughout that time, he was still calling and texting and I tried my best to pretend I still wanted to be with him while slowly replying less and less. I was lucky to finally be free of him. After a few days of not hearing from him, I changed my cell number. I was still on my guard whenever I left the house because he stalked me when we were together, but I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get away.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.