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Have you ever experienced a relationship where you felt you were being controlled or mistreated by someone? It’s more common than you may think, as every 10 seconds a teen or child is reported being abused.

It doesn’t just have to be your boyfriend or girlfriend; it can be someone in your family, your boss or manager, or even a friend.

It is extremely important for you to get out of this situation, or else trauma can occur. There are three critical steps to getting out of a toxic relationship. These three steps are realizing you are in a harmful relationship, informing trusted adults about your situation, and getting out safely.

It is important for you to realize the signs of an abusive relationship when you or someone else could possibly be in one. There are many signs you need to look for, but here are some common situations.

One indication is that he or she doesn’t let you see your friends and family because they feel the people who care about you will tell you they are ill-intended. The abuser can also cause you to dislike your friends or family by making any situation seem negative and that those people don’t care about your well-being.

Another sign is if the abuser controls what you wear. They may not allow you to wear any clothes that deem you provocative in their eyes. This can cause you to have low self-esteem and very little confidence in yourself, as you cannot express yourself as you please or make you feel like you dress in a sexual way.

Last, physical abuse and verbal abuse, including name-calling and demeaning comments, are telltale signs you are being abused. This is a serious case in a relationship because this could lead to very depressing or suicidal thoughts.

After you have realized that you or someone you care about are in a toxic relationship, it is important you do not just attempt to leave on your own. Telling a trusted adult about the situation is crucial in leaving an abusive relationship safely. You could tell the authorities, your parents, other family members, a counselor or a therapist. You can even tell your most trusted friend if you do not feel comfortable telling anyone else. Getting out of a relationship that is harmful for you can be terrifying, so always make sure you’re around someone safe who can take care of you.

When you remove a toxic person from your life, you must do it cautiously. When you tell him or her that they are going to be removed from your life, make sure you have someone with you to protect you. Tell the abuser they are not to be in any part of your life, and this includes social media. After everything is said and done, there are steps you can take to remove that person from your life for good. Blocking him or her from any social site so they cannot contact you or stalk you will keep you out of their mind. Deleting any photos or getting rid of anything of theirs will help keep them out of your life as well.

Last, spending time with positive friends and family, talking about how you feel and making new and better memories can make a huge impact.

Just know that if you or someone you know is going through a toxic relationship, they’re not alone. Recognizing the signs, telling a trusted elder and getting out discreetly are important in keeping the victim safe. There are always safe solutions and amazing outcomes from exiting a relationship.

Jana McCarthy, 16, is a student at Highland High School and a member of the North Township Trustee's Youth Steering Committee. The opinions are the writer's.


Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.