If you’re living in a toxic home, and it’s all you’ve ever known, it can take years to break free.
It takes a lot of hard work to see the ways that your parents, or your partner is abusing you.
If you think you’re living in a toxic home, you’re not alone.
These are a few of the warning signs that mental health professionals have identified as common in toxic homes.
If you see anything below that resonates with you, don’t hesitate to reach out, and seek help from a trusted friend or mental health professional.
1. Your feelings come second- every time
If you’ve been physically abused, there are definite warning signs that are obvious to outsiders- visible bruising, an unwillingness to undress in public, or a skittishness about being touched by a stranger.
However, emotional abuse is much more difficult to define.
One way to tell that you’re in an emotionally abusive home is that your feelings come second to your parents’, or your spouse’s- every time, without exception.
They may tell you that you’re being hysterical, and your feelings aren’t valid, as a way to encourage you to doubt yourself, and put more of your trust in them.
2. There’s always some drama going on
Healthy families tend to handle their conflicts without causing a major scene.
Disagreements are hashed out with some raised voices, but are otherwise handled with love, respect, and honesty.
If you’re living in a toxic home, one of the major warning signs is constant drama.
You may feel like every interaction is a struggle, and you’re continually walking on eggshells so you don’t cause any more strife.
This unhealthy behavior can be found in many toxic homes.
3. You’re asked to lie about things that happen at home
While there are some things that should remain private between family members, secrecy of any kind should not be tolerated.
This is especially true if your silence is covering up actions that are illegal, or dangerous.
If you’re continually being asked to lie about things that are happening in your home, and being threatened with expulsion or other consequences if you fail to keep their secret, you may be living in a toxic home.
4. They exert control over you using money, food, or other resources
Another way that toxic family members exert control over their household is by threatening their spouse, or children with consequences if they fail to obey the rules that they’ve arbitrarily put in place.
Some common consequences include exclusion from meals, financial repercussions, or other threats that are designed to keep family members from gaining their independence.
5. They don’t recognize your space or boundaries
Even if you’re living in a shared space, everyone needs privacy on occasion, and needs their family members to respect their personal belongings.
This is not an unreasonable thing to ask for, but if you’re continually having to enforce even the most basic of boundaries like privacy and personal space, you may be living in a toxic home.
This kind of control can even be practiced by people you’re not living with anymore, like parents of grown children who demand entry into their home at any hour of the day, or question the choices that they’ve made with their spouse.
Healthy families operate with respectful, healthy boundaries.
6. You’re often told how lucky you are to be there
One of the key tools in a toxic person’s emotional arsenal is their insistence that you’re lucky to live with them- that you’d be nowhere without them to protect and guide you.
This emotional manipulation is practiced by people who are deeply insecure, and who require your slavish devotion in order to feel comfortable with themselves.
If you’re continually being told how lucky you are to be with your family, coupled with the insinuation that you’d be lost elsewhere, it’s a major warning sign that you’re in a toxic home.
7. You fear for your safety
One of the best ways that you can tell if you’re in a toxic home is to trust your gut.
If you’re feeling unsafe because of your family’s actions or words, then you need to trust your instincts and work to extricate yourself from the situation.
A healthy family home never includes threats. There are plenty of resources for people who feel this way- anything from crisis hotlines to emergency halfway homes- that are free for anyone who needs them.
Don’t hesitate- reach out today.