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Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever been manipulated by a loved one? Have you ever felt used and abused? Have you ever suffered at a toxic worksite? Have you avoided family gatherings due to harmful family members? Have you been a victim of narcissistic abuse? Did you or your child(ren) experience parental alienation?

If you answered in the affirmative to any of these questions, then unfortunately you’ve experienced TAR – a toxic abusive relationship.

 What is a toxic abusive relationship?

A toxic relationship is – at the very least – harmful. Some signs of a toxic relationship are blatant and obvious — physical abuse, repeated infidelity, inappropriate sexual behavior — but other traits are more difficult to detect. Disrespect, dishonesty, and controlling behavior are some of the hidden hallmarks of abuse. Examples of these behaviors include your partner frequently cutting you down, questioning your decisions, criticizing your choices of friends, and keeping you away from people who support and advocate for you. As a result, your mental health will suffer, as depression and anxiety result in self-isolation. Your abuser becomes your only ally, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

While a relationship does not have to involve abuse to be considered toxic, all abusive relationships are toxic. This abuse can manifest in many ways, including emotional, verbal, economic, sexual, and physical. To clarify:

  • Your partner tries – and mostly succeeds – to possess and control you.
  • Your manager threatens to cut your pay and constantly criticizes your work.
  • People that you thought were in your corner accuse you of not fighting enough for your marriage.
  • Your partner calls you names and publicly humiliates you.

If you’re experiencing any type of abuse, please understand that you don’t deserve to live that way. Reach out for support immediately.

It’s Hard to Leave a Toxic Abusive Relationship

Sometimes it seems impossible to break free of toxic relationship patterns.  People might feel trapped financially or worry about their children. Here are a few reasons why people find it difficult to get out of a toxic relationship:

  • Fear. In abusive relationships, one partner is likely to be extremely manipulative towards the other. This manipulation frequently involves making physical, emotional, or financial threats if the other person talks about leaving. As a result, the victim might be afraid to leave their partner.
  • Children. For couples who have children together, it’s challenging to leave because of the perceived negative impact on the children. There may also be concerns about custody.
  • Love. There may be lingering feelings of love – regardless of the level of abuse – keeping someone in a relationship.
  • Finances. If one partner is financially dependent on the other, that could complicate the logistics involved in leaving.

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship for a long time, it’s hard to see a way out of the door. You may even believe that you caused the problem. Feeling this way is a common phenomenon, since your abuser is an expert at gaslighting, which leaves you questioning your own reality.

Additionally, further complications may arise if your partner has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is characterized by having an overblown sense of self-importance and lack of empathy.

How to Leave a Toxic Abusive Relationship

  • Build a safety net. If you’re thinking of calling it quits, make a plan for how you are going to deal with the transition. Where will you stay? What possessions will you need to bring? Don’t do this haphazardly. This process should be well thought out. 
  • Let someone know your plans. No me secrets. Confide in a family member or friend so that they can help you with the process. If you feel threatened, inform the local authorities that you are going to need help.
  • Seek professional help. Leaving and recovering from a toxic relationship will take effort and time. Reach out to support groups or counselors experienced in relationship issues. A therapist can be a great resource to guide you and hold you accountable for creating and meeting your goals. An experienced family law attorney will also be necessary if you’re leaving a marriage.

The mission of TAR Network is to stop – and keep from getting worse – the pandemic of narcissistic abuse around the world. We are here to help you heal and recover from TAR. 

The onset of a New Year gives us all a perfect opportunity to reflect on personal growth and set resolutions for positive change. If you’re involved in a toxic abusive relationship (TAR), setting boundaries and self-improvement will be challenging, but taking this journey for your emotional and physical health will definitely be worthwhile.

The start of a New Year can also inspire us to reflect on what we want out of the year ahead and craft a plan to achieve those personal goals.

We hope that you will consider – and make part of your recovery plan – accepting our invitation to participate in a brand new meeting offered by Dr. Jamie Huysman, Founder and Executive Director of TAR Network™.  This psychoeducational experience will provide guidance for everyone who has and continues to suffer from the effects of TAR.  Dr. Jamie will provide you with the tools you need to overcome and heal from TAR in the upcoming year, in addition to teaching you to protect yourself and your loved ones from TAR in the various spheres of your life. 

Please join us every Monday at 7:00 PM EST, starting January 22nd, at To access the meeting you may do so through the In The Rooms meeting schedule as normal. 

Addiction to toxic and narcissistic people is real, and we want to help you set the necessary boundaries. Using an analogy from folklore, “TARred & Feathered” will focus on removing – or de-tarring – toxic individuals from your life. 

Wishing you all the best in 2024 as you reclaim your life.

TAR Network™ is pleased to introduce and welcome you to the TAR Dojo, our educational arm to help you manage and overcome toxic abusive relationships. As defined from the Japanese “place of the way”, our Dojo will provide a guide and framework that will help you to create your own path toward recovery from abuse.


About the Author




TAR Network™ is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to bringing worldwide awareness and treatment to those whose emotional reality has been distorted by narcissistic abuse. The mission of TAR Network is to support men, women, the LGBTQ+ community, tweens & teens, families, parents who are alienated from their children, workers, and caregivers going through or emerging from TAR. With subject matter experts, affiliates, organizations with supportive resources, and our individual donor community our programs will help you out of the fog and into the light. TAR Network is currently developing several innovative projects: TAR Tales – a safe place to share your truth TAR Centers – a safe place to get vital CPTSD treatment TAR Anon – a safe and nonjudgmental worldwide support network. There is strength in numbers. We’ve all suffered from trauma and abuse at the hands of someone close. Please join us in this worldwide effort toward recovery.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this great information! Too bad I just read this article and missed your meeting. TAR recovery is a real thing.

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