Almost everyone knows one or two women who are in a toxic relationship. Their boyfriend belittles them, cheats on them, or just generally treats them like trash.
For some strange reason, they never leave their lovers.
Felicia Ntintili, a marriage counsellor in East London, describes a toxic relationship as one in which a partner is chronically tired, angry or frightened.
"In short, a relationship that is abusive in any way might be a toxic relationship," she said.
"Usually the woman has no right to express herself."
Audrey Gaskin, a healing counsellor at St Johns Catholic Church in Johannesburg, said most toxic partners use tactics such as intimidation, guilt-tripping, shaming and charm.
Gaskin said that toxic relationships can seriously damage a woman's health. She said there are many reasons why women choose toxic relationships.
"A woman may have grown up in a toxic household; she may have been taught that she is not deserving of happiness, or may have learned to take responsibility for others.
"One of the most important things to remember as a woman in a toxic relationship is that she has choices and she can get out."
Gaskin said both the woman and the toxic man need help.
"Part of why the toxic person hurts, besides their own low sense of self, is the fear of being out of control and the fear of what exposing the true self would mean."
Gaskin said low self-esteem is the main cause of this.
"Though low self-esteem can be a complex experience, the bottom line is that the person does not have a good and clear sense of themselves, and so it is almost impossible, without intervention, for that person to understand that there is a better, healthier way to be."
25 Ways to Tell if Your Relationship is Toxic, by Dr Lillian Glass:
1. Your partner puts you down verbally, in private or in front of others.
2. Your partner tells you he or she loves you but behaviour shows otherwise.
3. Your partner doesn't want you to see or talk to friends or family.
4. Your partner is jealous of the time you spend with your kids.
5. Your partner shows up often at your work unexpectedly or opens your mail.
6. Your partner calls you often to see what you are doing.
7. You cry often or feel depressed over your relationship.
8. Your partner says you would have the perfect relationship if only you would change.
9. Your partner wants you to be dependent on him.
10. Your partner does things for you and then uses them to make you feel obligated.
11. Your thoughts, opinions, accomplishments or words are devalued.
12. You don't know who you are any more without him or her; or how you would survive.
13. Your friends and family don't like your partner or don't think he is good for you.
14. You have changed things about yourself to suit your partner, even when it is not your taste.
15. You always go where your partner wants to, such as in the case of movies and restaurants.
16. Your partner has made you feel afraid or unsafe, and you have been afraid to speak the truth at times for fear of upsetting him or her, walking on eggshells.
17. You don't feel you have control of your life any more.
18. Your self-esteem is lower since you've been with your partner.
19. You think it's up to you to make the relationship work.
20. You keep secrets about your relationship from others who love you because they wouldn't understand.
21. Your partner makes you feel unattractive or stupid.
22. Your partner accuses you of cheating and is overly jealous.
23. Your partner can be really sweet to you one minute, and really mean the next.
24. Your partner seems really sweet and loving to you when they think you are about to leave the relationship, or after they have been mean to you.
25. You can't remember the last time you felt happy for more than a few days straight.