November: Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships

Given that November is both National Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th), we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk about unhealthy or toxic relationships and domestic abuse.

At the core of healthy relationships you can feel safe, respected, and accepted for who you are. You feel equal to your friend or partner. This person enriches your life. They are mutually supportive and beneficial. A healthy relationship does not mean a ‘perfect’ relationship, but it means that you are always respected and safe.

Unhealthy relationships you might feel anxious, confused, self-doubt, and even afraid and unsafe. You may feel you’ve lost your sense of self, your spark, and your self-worth. You may feel like you’re going crazy or it’s something ‘wrong’ with you. You may feel controlled, victim of gaslighting, put down, and humiliated. You may have been physically harmed or threatened and fear the other person.

Abusive relationships can break you down over time, diminish your self-worth. Emotional and physical abusers can control and isolate you, put themselves in the position of building you back up again. If you are made to feel ‘not good enough’ you may be more likely to stay in an unhealthy and abusive relationship. Domestic violence is not limited to acts of physical harm.

Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Sometimes you may know you are in an unhealthy, toxic, or abusive relationship but you don’t know how to get out. Sometimes you might not even be aware your relationship is unhealthy and harmful to you. There is no shame or judgment about your relationship. We’ve added a short list of what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like. You can also watch the short video about Toxic People from watchwellcast.

The first step of change is awareness, seeing what needs to be seen. Everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can recognize the unhealthy signs and work to shift to healthy behaviours, if possible. There are many supports to help you better understand what is happening in your relationship and what you can do to improve the situation. There are also many supports if you decide to leave, safely. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important not to ignore them understand they can escalate to abuse. Trust your gut.

If you want to know more, please see the resources below. We are here to help if you want to talk about what’s going on.

See this short video on Toxic People: How to End a Bad Relationship or here: has the following descriptions of healthy and unhealthy relationships:

Signs of Unhealthy Relationships

Signs of Healthy Relationships
Intensity – too intense too quickly Comfortable Pace – relationship moves at a speed that is enjoyable for each person
Manipulation – tries to control you, “gaslighting”
Honesty – can be truthful without fear of how the other person will respond
Sabotage – purposely ruins your achievements or success Respect – value each other’s beliefs and opinions, even if they are different
Guilting – makes you feel responsible for their feelings, or like it’s your job to make them happy Kindness – are caring and empathic to one another, provide comfort and support
Deflecting Responsibility – makes excuses for their unhealthy behaviour Healthy Conflict – openly and respectfully discussing issues and confronting disagreements non-judgmentally
Possessiveness – try to control your time and who you spend time with Trust – confidence that your partner won’t do anything to hurt you or ruin the relationship
Isolation – keeps you away from friends and family Independence – you have space to be yourself outside the relationship
Belittling – does and says things that make you feel bad about yourself Equality – relationship feels balanced, and each person puts the same effort
Volatility – strong, unpredictable reactions that makes you scared, confused, or intimidated Taking Responsibility – each owns their actions and words
Betrayal – dishonesty or is disloyal Fun – enjoy spending time together and bring out the best in each other
Harm – physical or emotional harm or violence (pushed, slapped, intimidated, non-consensual sex, bullied, throwing objects) Safety – feeling safe and physically and emotionally secure in the other’s presence

As the author Charles Orlando once said “You don’t let go of a bad relationship because you stop caring about them. You let go because you start caring about yourself.” And on that note, we’ve included a few resources below that may be helpful to you.

Wishing you all health and happiness for the month of November. Remember to be kind to yourselves.

All the best,

Émilie Rose Casey





Women’s Centre of Montréal
3585 Saint-Urbain

Montréal (Québec), H2X 2N6
Phone: 514 842-4780

Welcome Hall Mission
General Information
606 De Courcelle Street
Montreal, QC H4C 3L5
Phone: 514 523-5288
Fax: 514 523-6456



One Love

One Love Foundation is a national non-profit organization with the goal of ending relationship abuse. We empower young people with the tools and resources they need to see the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships and bring life-saving prevention education to their communities.

United Nations – What is Domestic Abuse