Supporting Survivors of Toxic Relationships

Since 1989 when it was declared, October has been Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month highlights both the survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence (IPV) and also advocates for those who are tragically victims of this form of violence. October is a time to support those in your life who are survivors of violence, as well as donate time and money to causes which support those seeking to leave or recover from relationships in which domestic violence occurred. If you’re interested in supporting domestic violence survivors this month (or any month!), check out some of these resources:
  • New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: this organization provides not only support for survivors, but a directory of shelters across New York State. If you’re located in New York like me, this would be a great resource for you to utilize or support.
  • Domestic Violence Shelter Search Tool: if you’re outside of New York, there are still directories you can use to find a shelter near you! Check out this tool to find support close to home.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: this national organization provides legislative advocacy and other financial support for survivors of domestic violence. If you’re looking for a place to donate, this is a great organization to do so!
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: this free resource can be called anytime; it can also be texted and there is a chat feature online, if you’d prefer. You can reach the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Domestic violence survivors are not the only individuals in toxic relationships that need support, though! A family member who struggles with substance use does not only impact themselves, but their whole family. Individuals struggling with substance use may forgo family responsibilities, have difficulty maintaining steady income, cause financial strain from purchasing substances, and run into legal difficulties. Substance use may also lead to aggression, which could lead to domestic violence, as well, with 92% of men who assault their partners using alcohol on the day of the attack. For family members of those struggling with substance use, check out these resources:
  • BALM Family Recovery: BALM is a year-long program hosted online to support family members of those struggling with addiction. BALM helps loved ones advocate for themselves as well as help their loved ones with their transition to sobriety or treatment.
  • Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation: this organization is similar to BALM in that it hosts support classes for family members, but they have more options than a singular one-year program. The foundation offers weekly support groups, a 10-week class on advocate and assertiveness skills, and virtual family programs for multiple cultures.
  • Nar-Anon or Narateen: Nar-Anon is specifically designed for friends and family members of those struggling with addiction. The format is a 12-step recovery program, but for those not battling with substance use themselves. Narateen is the same format, but for teenagers instead of adults.
Your relationship may not be impacted by substance use or violence, but it still may feel unsafe, unsatisfying, and toxic to you. A toxic relationship can describe any relationship where one or both partners violates the boundaries of the other and makes the other partner feel unsafe, unvalued, and demeaned. It’s important to heal toxic relationships as staying in a toxic relationship may alter our perception of healthy relationships and cause us trauma. If you’re looking to improve your relationship, you may want to try the following:
  • Communication styles quiz: there are several quizzes online that can help you determine your communication style and how it impacts your marriage. Try one out with your partner today!
  • Love Languages quiz: love languages are how we best give and receive love. It’s important to know each other's love language to best show we appreciate our partner. Try out this quiz by the creator of the 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman.
  • Guided prompt journals: journals are a low investment way to spend more time with your partner and to get to know them deeper. Here’s a list of several guided prompt journals that may work for you.
Of course, our best suggestion for a struggling couple or family is to seek counseling! At Therapy Beyond Healing, we’d love to assist you as you navigate your relationship, regardless of what stage you’re in. We are also ready to support family members of those battling substance use as well as survivors of domestic violence. Reach out today by emailing We look forward to hearing from you soon!