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TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Has anyone cut off toxic friends before? I'm 18, never had a toxic friend until I met this friend- let's call her W.
 
The whole argument started because I blocked her on social media, which I later explained to her that I blocked her because I needed space to work out my own issues. When she found out that I blocked her on social media, she called me 3 times on my phone and also called our mutual friends to get them to try to contact me. She texted me demanding an answer to why I blocked her. She didn't even ask how I was or what was going on in my life.
 
I explained to her via text that I needed space because I got triggered after she told me that she was sexually ab*sed online. She texted me back saying that she won't tell me about it the "next time someone sexually ab*ses me, so you won't get triggered". It sounded very passive-aggressive to me and made me feel like I was supposed to be okay all the time, and when I'm not, I'm being blamed for it.
 
W made a new Instagram account and posted a piece of writing called "molestation, deceit and broke trust". In the post, she wrote that the douchiest thing a friend could do is to "ditch" them after they have been molested. She compared me breaking her trust to the same thing that the guy that did something to her, "only without the crime". She then proceeded to dm me this post on Instagram. I confronted her and she apologised for the dm, but she asked me to point out what was wrong about the post and said that what she wrote wasn't rude and that everything she wrote was true. I did not understand how anyone could write something like that, make an infographic on canva with illustrations representing her writing, save it on their phone, upload it and then send it to the person they wrote about.
 
W still insists to talk to me in person when I honestly don't think there is any way to save the friendship. I texted her saying that I don't think we can be friends anymore. She has overstepped all of my boundaries and has called me "toxic", "manipulative", "rude" and "a hypocrite" at this point. However, I am in Youth Council with her and still have to see her. I said that I'd still be happy to work with her in Youth Council. She said that she would not prefer to talk to people that are not their friends and that "most people don't ruin friendships over one argument". So the only way I could work with her in Youth Council again, is to be her friend. Smiley Sad
 
Sorry for the long post, hope it makes sense as this has been going on for 4 weeks and is very complex. Does anyone have experience/advice with cutting off toxic friends even though they still have to see them semi-regularly?

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

@justkeepswimming That sounds like such an extremely difficult and exhausting situation, and I can totally understand why you would be feeling stressed and anxious about how to go about ending a friendship. 

I can kind of understand what you're going through, because I've also had to end friendships in the past, and it can be really painful to end a friendship - especially when the other person is refusing to listen to where you're coming from. From what you've explained, it sounds like W consistently and cruelly overstepped very clear boundaries that you have. Though I can totally understand why she might be feeling hurt and confused, particularly after she had gone through such a traumatic incident. However, it's really important that even when our friends are going through a difficult period, that they still respect our own boundaries and wishes. 

 

It's also really disappointing that your friend lashed out in a way that she knew would hurt you. Again, sometimes this can happen because she is processing some of the trauma that she experience, however, this does not give her excuse to hurt you. I think that what you have said about taking time away from W is a very good idea. Sometimes when people are hurting, they can't help but hurt others around them - all we can do is give them space and time to process what had happened. 

It may help to write a letter or message, that outline how you feel, how you were hurt by the situation, and why you think it would be best for both of you to take a step away. It might also be helpful to include some resources to professional supports like 1800 Respect, or eHeadspace. It can also really help to try and avoid any sort of extended conversation or dialogue. It might even help to block her messages after sending the message, just so you both have time to process how you feel without saying anything you don't mean. 

In terms of the youth council, is there anyone you can talk to about the situation? would you still be able to contribute without working directly with W? 

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Hi justkeepswimming

This sounds so exhausting. I can imagine a conflict with a friend like this can feel really stressful and anxiety-inducing. It does sound like W was not understanding they had breached your boundaries, or considerate of your experience, which would be really hurtful. I think it's really strong of you to recognise within yourself it's in your best interest to move on from the friendship.

I have needed to end relationships with friends. I had a relationship with a friend who would consistently message and try to hang out with me, even though I was presenting clear signs I was not interested in pursuing the friendship. It was really difficult and, to be fully honest, I handled the situation a bit clumsily. I think what Andrea-RO has said sounds like a really good strategy, especially because you need to keep seeing them in some contexts.

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

@justkeepswimming hi there, I just read your post- I'm sorry you are sitting in a tough headspace right now- friendship conflicts and boundary-crossing can he hard. How are you doing now- how are you travelling? Has any of @Abderian  or @Andrea-RO words resonated with you? Feel free to touch base if you like.

 

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Hi @Andrea-RO,

 

Sorry for the very delayed reply, I've not been having a good time right but I'm trying my best. Thanks for the advice Andrea, it really helped. It's been a while but from one of W's messages, I read that she apologised for sending the post to me so we basically both apologised for the angry back and forth texting. I also gave her some numbers to call if she needed more support. I saw her at the youth council meeting and she asked how I was and she initiated small talk. W asked if I wanted to talk after the meeting but I told her that I needed to call my mum instead and have avoided talking to her.

 

Yesterday W messaged me asking when my last HSC exam is ending and I told her, although I was suspicious about her message since it seemed like she wanted to hang out. I was right and she messaged me asking if we could "catch up" after the HSC. I know that I don't want to be more than acquaintances with her so I replied and said that "I'll see when I have time to catch up". 

 

I know what I want but I'm not comfortable with vocalising that I don't want to be friends with her since she either gives me a puppy look or makes me feel bad for what she's going through. I'm the worst at standing my ground. Right now I'm just avoiding her and hoping that she won't text me again but at the same time when I see her at youth council meetings again (I have one next week) she will want to talk to me about our friendship. W has also called my best friend 7 times using a private number because she wasn't talking to her. W just makes me so nervous everytime she messages/ calls me and I don't know what to do about it. Smiley Sad

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Hi @justkeepswimming, thank you for updating us. It sounds like a really tricky situation that you are in and I am so sorry that you are going through this. You have already tried to end the friendship before (which is already difficult enough) but it hasn't quite stayed that way. It seems like the situation is causing you a bit of worry and leaving you feeling stuck.

When you do talk about ending the friendship with W, it might be helpful to make it clear that you do not want to talk any further and then end the conversation immediately after. Whether that is in person, via text or via phone call. It can feel quite stern, however it seems like W has a way of making you feel guilty or like a bad person for ending the friendship.. which then brings things back to the start. I know how uncomfortable this can be especially if you still need to see them, so alternatively you could mute their messages and calls on your phone. At least their notifications won't pop up on your phone screen but you will still get them. You also don't have to reply to messages if you don't want to.

I don't think there is a wrong or right answer and it is a really hard decision to make. Either way, we will be here Heart

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Hi justkeepswimming , I can say that I have gone through something similar and some helpful tips that I can give you would be:

- remember to surround yourself with people who are going to bring out the best in you and who make you a better person.

- sometimes letting go if the hardest part but I was once told that the more you hold on the more worse the rope burn is going to be (hope that makes sense) 

- If you still have to see this person then just try to be polite and civil as much as possible to keep things easy and mutual. if they turn their back then let it go but try to be the bigger person and be civil with this person. 

- Honestly if you don't find yourself comfortable in any situation never feel guilty for leaving remember that everyone has their own personal limits and should never feel threatened or unhappy.

Hope this helps  

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

Hi @justkeepswimming,
I'm glad that you know what you want and trying to protect yourself from her. Considering you can still see her at the council meeting, I think you can still keep a somewhat friendly attitude with her but not too friendly. Like you can still have a small conversation her but do not go deep into the topic relating with personal stuff. Keeping some distance from her and treating her like a person you are not very familiar with and close to. I think once you keep this attitude for a while, she will get what you mean.

Re: TW: Sexual ab*se. I'm really tired of this situation with a toxic friend.

@justkeepswimming it sounds like you made a good call there, distancing yourself and maintaining your boundaries with a variety of strategies whilst still being polite- go you!

Whenever W tries to contact you or your friends, and it makes you nervous as you say, try and pause. Engage in some breathing exercises. Maybe have a friend with you whenever she tries to call or to read over a text with you before responding. This may help to dissipate some of the immediate 'jitters' or nerves you feel.