When people think of abusive relationships, often they think of physical abuse. But there is another highly damaging abuse that often flies under the radar: psychological abuse. Partners, friends, bosses or colleagues can mentally, emotionally and verbally abuse you without you even realising .
Toxic relationships are extremely common, but they’re rarely talked about. Most of the time, people don’t even know they are in a toxic relationship until it’s too late, and serious psychological damage has been done.
I know how difficult toxic relationships are because I was in a psychologically abusive relationship for 18 months. Eighteen months! I had no idea. I thought I was madly in love and had finally found my soulmate. It wasn’t until I started seeing a psychologist that I became aware of something being seriously wrong.
After a few weeks of listening to the problems in my relationship, my psychologist gently told me I was in an abusive relationship. The irony of that discovery, is that my partner at the time made me feel like I was completely mentally unstable, he repeatedly told me I needed “serious help” and I finally did, which prompted the beginning of the end.
Listen to Mia Freedman’s chat with Sam Frost on No Filter. Post continues after audio.
I had busted him having an affair with a married woman for the majority of our relationship, yet somehow he manipulated the situation and said I was to blame for being crazy and paranoid, to the point where I stayed with him after the fact because by then he had made me feel like I was weak, fragile, depressed and I felt worthless.
He would say things to me like “Sam, why do you think every guy has broken up with you?” And I’d reply with a variety of reasons. He’d then say, “Well, there’s a pretty clear pattern, they all leave you”.
Some of his favourite lines were, “You’re lucky to be with me. No one else would put up with you,” and, “If you break up with me, you’re just going to ruin the next relationship and the relationship after that. Do you know how embarrassing that will be?”
He knew I’d struggled with depression throughout my life, and he played on that, knowing it was my weak spot. He also knew my beautiful mum suffers with quite severe mental disorders and would say things to me like, “Have you ever thought maybe you’re more like your mum than you think?” I’d cry hysterically.
I rolled up into a ball on the ground and wept uncontrollably. He’d tell me to get up and stop being so pathetic.