Toxic Relationships vs. Abusive Relationships

You Have Rights

Breaking free from an abusive partner starts with knowing that you don’t deserve abuse and that you have rights. Abuse in any form is unacceptable, and it’s crucial to recognize that everyone has fundamental rights that should never be compromised.

You have the right to safety, respect, and dignity. You have the right to make your own choices and to be treated as an equal. Today, we share a comprehensive list of these essential rights to remind you that you are entitled to live without fear and oppression. Understanding and asserting these rights is the first step toward breaking free from an abusive situation.

All victims/survivors have the right to safety, respect, and dignity.



No one deserves to:

  1. Be pushed, shoved, pounded, slapped, bruised, kicked or strangled.
  2. Be verbally attacked or accused.
  3. Have possessions damaged.
  4. Be interfered with in comings and goings.
  5. Be ridiculed, put down, made fun of, or belittled – alone or in front of others.
  6. Be followed, harassed or spied on.
  7. Be emotionally starved.
  8. Be isolated.
  9. Be threatened with death if you leave

You have the right to:

  1. Be treated with respect.
  2. Be heard.
  3. Say “NO”.
  4. Come and go as you please.
  5. Have a support system.
  6. Have friends and be social.
  7. Have privacy and space of your own.
  8. Maintain a separate identity.

All The Reasons

Breaking free from an abusive partner is a complex and deeply personal journey. Many survivors are held back by the powerful internal and external oppressive narratives that provide reasons to stay with an abusive partner.

It may feel like there are reasons to stay, but there are stronger reasons to leave. Only a survivor knows when it is safe to leave. Even then, it is still a risk; survivors know better than anyone how to calculate their risk, and support is essential.

These oppressive narratives can be overwhelming and perpetuate a cycle of entrapment. Acknowledging that these narratives are not truths but distortions imposed by society, family, and the abusive partner is a way to take back the power that’s been stolen.

All victims/survivors have the right to safety, respect, and dignity.



Reasons to stay:

  1. “The unknown is worse than the known.”
  2. “I can’t make it on my own financially.”
  3. “I’m afraid of being lonely.”
  4. “I’d have to go to work, and I might fail.”

You may be telling yourself things that make you stay:

  1. “He can’t live without me.”
  2. “The children need a father.”
  3. “He’ll kill me if I go.”
  4. “I can’t make it alone.”
  5. “I have no education, no skills.”
  6. “It’s going to get better.”
  7. “No one believes me.”
  8. “I’ll lose my kids.”
  9. “I can’t give up my dream of a good marriage.”
  10. “My mother says to stay.”

Reasons to leave:

  1. Safely from bodily harm for yourself and your children.
  2. More self-respect, self-confidence, and a sense of identity.
  3. Gaining control over your own life.
  4. Increased peace and tranquility.
  5. Sense of independence.

Care For Yourself

Breaking free from an abusive relationship can be one of the hardest things a person does. But even after your ex is out of your life, sometimes the emotional and mental effects from experiencing abuse can linger on.

Leaving can be dangerous: Many people experiencing intimate partner violence realistically fear that their abusive partners’ actions will become more violent and even lethal if they attempt to leave. The abusive partner may have threatened to kill them or hurt their child, family member or pet if they leave.

What about the kids? Many survivors are not sure that leaving would be the best for their children (especially if the children are not being abused directly.) Concerns may include: Will my partner win custody of the children? How will I support my kids without my partner’s income? I want my children to have two parents.

You may experience feelings of depression, guilt, anger, loss and even the effects of trauma.

Being in an abusive relationship, or leaving and getting back together more than once – which is very common – can hurt your self-esteem, make you doubt yourself and derail your progress. If you’re feeling bad, you may even question your decision to leave in the first place. The important thing to remember is that you did leave and that took a lot of strength. Now it is time to channel your courage into healing and establishing a confident and healthy you.

All victims/survivors have the right to safety, respect, and dignity.


Things to remember:

  1. You did not cause the violence.
  2. You cannot keep it from happening again.
  3. Your word/actions do not influence his.
  4. Alcohol does not cause violence – it is the excuse he uses to be violent.
  5. Because he is sorry afterward doesn’t excuse what he did.
  6. You are not one of his possessions to be used as he sees fit.
  7. He is not “king of his castle”. If the king is abusive, he needs to be dethroned.
  8. Whatever he does in the privacy of his home is not okay. What is done in the privacy of the home must be agreeable with both people. Otherwise it’s time to “go public”.
  9. You don’t deserve to be beaten.
  10. You are not to blame for the violence. Look else where for a place to blame.
  11. You cannot control his violence. You are powerless to control it. You are free to manage your own life.

Ways to take care of yourself:

  1. Remove yourself from the cause of the harm.
  2. Find a safe environment.
  3. Develop a support system.
  4. Stay healthy.
  5. Practice self-care.
  6. Regain your sense of humor.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I gain by staying in a violent home?
  2. What do my children gain by staying in a violent home?
  3. What do I lose by leaving?
  4. What do my children lose by leaving?
  5. What do I have to gain by leaving?
  6. What do my children have to gain by leaving?
  7. Who can I talk to about my problem?
  8. What are my bottom line expectations for the future?
  9. What am I will to live without for the rest of my life?
  10. What price am I paying for “peace”?
    • Is it too high?
    • How long have I been paying it?
    • Are my children paying a price?
    • Is it too high?
    • How will it affect them five years from now?
  11. Without change, what will I be like five years from now?
  12. What do I want?
  13. How can I get it?
  14. What am I willing to do to get it?

Conclusion & Safety Planning

Remember, you are not alone. Support is available, and there are people and resources ready to help you reclaim your life and your rights.  

Through this process safety, remembrance and mourning and reconnection, Support groups and organizations can be very helpful.  

Getting involved in support groups, joining organizations, and connecting with other survivors can offer you comfort and support during this time. 

Planning for safety is one way you can take back your power in abusive relationships. Although you can’t control an intimate partner’s use of violence, you can evaluate and define options and opportunities for your liberation and safety. Learn more about Personalized Safety Plan tools:

Together, we can work towards a world where everyone lives free from violence. 


You are not alone.

If you or someone you love is in need of support, please contact the Battered Women Support Services Crisis Line:

Call toll-free: 1-855-687-1868
Metro Vancouver: 604-687-1867