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Real Stories

How to remove yourself from toxic situations?

Toxic situations can range from factors such as friendships, families, workplace and more.  According to the English Cambridge Dictionary (2022), toxic refers to any difficult situation that causes unpleasant experiences. It causes people to feel sad, shocked as well as upset. These situations can be dangerous and harmful if prolonged. Hence, it is important for people to know how to remove themselves from such situations. In this article, we specifically discuss about women in toxic situations.

You may think that toxic situations are just a few cases and it is nothing serious.

But did you know,

  • 8 in 10 females found themselves to be in toxic friendships (Survery conducted by TODAY.COM and SELF Magazine)
  • 1 in 3 women (globally) experience violence- physical and/or sexual. These violence are usually caused by their partners or non-partners (World Health Organisation, 2021).
  • More than 22% of estimated 75,000 workers in 121 countries have reported on workplace harrassment (UN International Labour Organisations).

These statistics are numbers to show people that women (and men) do go through toxic situations. However, it is evident that women are more prone to becoming a victim in such situations.

It is important for women to know how to remove themselves from toxic situations. Once the situation escalates with time, it can have a more serious impact and consequence compared to that of the starting period.

Firstly, it is important for women to recognise and identify if a person is toxic. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and yourself too. How does the person make you feel? Are you always in fear? Do they make you uncomfortable? Do you feel ‘used’/drained constantly? Do you have bruises physically and/or mentally? These are some questions you can reflect on your own. Making small progress is always the best way forward- even when you feel ‘stuck’.

After you have identified such signs about the person, it is important for you to identify why you are still holding on to that person. Is it because you are working with them and you want to secure your job? Is it because they provide you with some needs- eg: shelter, finances etc? Is it because you have some cultural beliefs attached to your perspectives? Is it because you feel inferior and that you can’t do anything about it? There are so many reasons to why we sometimes hold on to toxic situations. It can be difficult to let go especially when they play a big part in our lives- eg: our bosses, our loved ones etc. But is it really worth it? Do you think you are able to leave this person and still lead a better and peaceful life? Would you be able to help yourself in the future (eg: self sufficient) or would those around you support you for a short term before you are able to get back up on your feet (eg: Social service organisations, family, friends, support groups etc). If your answer is yes, that there are other alternatives to working your way around the difficulties faced from removing yourself from toxic situations, that means you can let them go and let yourself free from the misery.

The first two steps are mainly thought processes and reflections. This step is an action plan. The third step is for those who are trapped in their situations. In toxic situations, you may feel inferior or held hostage (in worst case scenarios). In such situations, it’s important to report and/or file a complaint to the higher authorities. For workplaces, we have Human Resources team (HR) who are able to oversee such situations that employees and staff are in. For personal matters (eg: relationships, family etc), there are organisations that help people who are going through violence. There is also the Police you can contact to file a report. There are some protective measures such as protection orders and exclusion orders which allow you to be protected from the predator/abuser. The titles of such services differ from country to country. If your country doesn’t have such services, the best method is to report to the police and neighbourhood organisations too. Hopefully, you are able to remove yourself from the toxic situation, and find shelter, job and comfort through such social service organisations.

Finally, the last step is your plans after removing yourself from the toxic situation. After you have seeked the necessary medical, emotional and social interventions, what is it that you wish to do in life? Is there any specific agencies and companies you would like to work with? Do you wish to learn new skills or talents to be able to support yourself (as well as your family, if any)? What are some of your unfulfilled dreams you would love to take on? These are some questions that you will find the answer to along the way. For personal developments, you can seek help through counselling, therapy, talking with friends, reflecting by yourself. For professional developments, you can always approach career coach, guidance coach, workshops etc.

There are ways for you to overcome your toxic situations. These are some of the ways that I believe in. There can be better ways or ways that differ. Not every way can be helpful for someone as everyone is going through different challenges and situations in life. Not every person is the same as well. Trauma is something you will have throughout your life. It will never go away. Different situations might trigger them, and it can appear stronger. With all your traumas and scars, I hope you still find a way to manoeuvre through life. It is difficult and will be draining. Nevertheless, it is important to know that you are not your trauma. Yes, your trauma is based on harmful experiences and situations which can create a conscious or subconscious belief in you. I hope you know that you are more powerful as you are and have the potential to overcome any obstacle you face- with and/or without help. You aren’t weak just because of your situations. You, my queen, are a survivor!

* This article is not a professional advice, it should be used as a form of encouragement and awareness.

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by Thiviya

Thiviya. A is a writer and poet from Singapore. She first discovered her passion for writing when she started using writing as her coping mechanism when faced with challenges in life. Writing has helped her to process her thoughts and encourage herself. She created @wingsofwords_poetry on Instagram in June 2021 to create a positive and safe space for the community. She believes that as long as she helps an individual, her goal in poetry writing is fulfilled. Through the years, she took part in many anthologies and competitions. She also wrote her first poetry collection, titled 'The Survivor Spirit' which discusses about healing and hope amidst the struggles one faces in life. Outside of poetry and writing, Thiviya is just an ordinary woman who goes through the motions of studies. She is currently a graduate in Diploma in Social Sciences (Social Work) and can't wait to continue on with her journey in education and life.

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