Toxic Relationships are Two-Sided

The couple from last week used me for their dramas. The danger wasn’t real; I was just a good audience.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think anyone deserves to be hit and blaming the victim of abuse isn’t kosher. But, choosing to play the victim role is something may people do. I did it for many years.

The woman in this relationship chose the victim role. Just as I used to say to others, she said to me: "I know this isn’t good. I used to not understand why anyone would be in this situation, but I can’t leave him." When I would say that I’d mean: "I am not financially or culturally tied to this toxic relationship, but I can’t leave because <sigh> I love him." Of course I wasn’t in love. I was getting other needs met. I was succeeding at being a good martyr.

The woman has been in this relationship for over a year during which time, things haven’t escalated. She still chooses to stay. There are many reasons for it, and I don’t judge her for that. What I am judging is their choice as a couple of using my goodwill to pull me into their struggle.

I stayed because I was worried for her safety, and yet every time I removed myself from the fighting (by going to my room and closing the door, for example), one or the other of them would do something that demanded my attention and encouraged me choose to get involved.

Sometimes the cliché of "it takes two to tango" is true. And why tango without an audience?

If this sort of thing ever happens again (and I seriously hope it doesn’t), I now know what I will do. I will leave. I will offer a way out physically for the victim and if the offer is declined, then I will still leave. And that doesn’t make me a bad or uncaring person. It makes me smart.

Someday Lessons:

  • Remove yourself quickly and completely from other people’s dramas.
  • You are not responsible for the choices others make.

4 thoughts on “Toxic Relationships are Two-Sided

  1. Sara says:

    I worry that in the case of domestic abuse that each relationship is slightly unique. What if the percieved “drama” is actually a life-threatening situation? How can you tell the difference? Sometimes, just being “present” is enough to diffuse a situation and prevent it from escalating. I don’t think it is always necessary to be a so-called good samaritan and put yourself in harms way, but imagine how you would feel if you walked away and the woman were murdured? Not to mentioned that “doing nothing” might have legal repercussions. I’m not judging your decision – just wondering about the “what ifs”…

  2. Alex Fayle says:

    Yes, I know – that’s the tough part. Did my presence escalate the situation or keep it from exploding? In this particular case I think it escalated the drama. Every case is different and I would judge each one separately (not that I want to there to be any more!).

  3. Amy Mowbray says:

    It will happen again. How does that saying go? If it walks, talks, smells, eats, and acts like a monster, it’s a monster.
    Check the statistics. You never hear abuse happening only once. It’s an on going thing. And it will keep happening until she leaves him or if he kills her, then he’ll do it to another woman.

  4. Alex Fayle says:

    Amy: I’m sure it will happen again between them. I’m just glad that I’m not going to be put in the middle of them. Hopefully she will leave before it’s too late.

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