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Red Flags - Abuse

The Red Flags of Romance

As we continue with Noluthando’s Navigating Romance Series, we will raise Red Flags to alert you to areas within yourself that need attention.  The mirror they offer is an opportunity for self-reflection. 

In this latest article, we tackle the topic of Abuse.


…the light disturbs the wicked
    and stops the arm that is raised in violence.

Job 38:15 (NLT)


“Trent Taylor sauntered into my life wearing faded blue jeans, dusty work boots, and an attitude I could not take my eyes off. We had a bumper crop that summer of ’99, so Daddy was able to hire a farmhand to help for a change. We were all so happy to have a little money in our pockets and another set of harvesting hands, we didn’t look a gift horse in his mouth. It was just like that story from the Trojan War. We all let him right in without looking first to see what was inside him.

It’s surreal to think that if the rains hadn’t fallen just right and the price of tobacco hadn’t been up due to a blight that seemed to be hitting every farm but ours, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to hire Trent. How much pain I could have been spared…”

Excerpt from Wings of Glass, by Gina Holmes.




Bringing a victim’s awareness to the atrocity attached to any abuse they agree to can be a very complex task. 

To understand:

A tensile tight rope stretches from one high-rise building to another. On it, in mid-air, thousands of feet above reality, a couple dance The Tango.

The intensity is electric. Entangled and entwined, they twirl on the fine-line of illusion. Captivated by chaos, they dip in and out of the depths of dysfunction. Deception sets the staccato; emotional drama re-enforces rhythm. Repetitively they rise, inevitably they fall, continuously convinced that if they set each other on fire, love will arise out of the ashes that smolder beneath their feet.

In a high-strung performance like this, there is always an audience: The Enablers. Long after the sell-by date, they are still encouraging encores.

In abusive relationships, accessing stable entry points that offer the opportunity to spark a cognitive conversation around reality is almost impossible. Before any rational recognition or personal responsibility is able to take root, red roses arrive.

As love in disguise, the dangerous dance starts again.





In Amos 3:3, Scripture points to this question: “do two men walk together unless they have made an agreement?” Or, in Matthew 6:19 (AMP), we witness Jesus encouraging His disciples.

He says, “I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.”

What are we to recognize?

Agreements bind. When you continuously allow someone to abuse you, you have effectively said ‘yes.’ You have given permission for a binding arrangement to continue as a particular course of action. A once-off incident can most certainly catch us unawares, even leave us disillusioned, expose misrepresentation, break our hearts; but when we return for a repeat performance, we have shrunk our hearts to fit a force far larger than we can ever imagine.

Abuse is not child’s play. When we say yes, we come into agreement with an enemy who intends to steal, kill and destroy. John  10:10 (NLT).




The kiss of the fist leaves a devastating imprint on a person’s spirit, soul and body. Any type of abuse, whether emotional, spiritual, sexual, verbal, intellectual, or relational, is an absolute transgression against the basic human right every person can claim.

This fact does not even touch on our obligation to live out the life that God intended for us. A transcendent life that celebrates our magnificence; honors that we are loved; that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; called to walk in the cool of the evening with the Creator of Heaven and Earth; always able to assert authority against that which attempts to damage our hearts and disempower our purpose.

We must remember that we are Royalty.

In Luke 10:18 (AMP), Jesus says to His disciples, listen carefully, I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.”

This authority may not involve the practical power to stop the hand that rises in darkness, or silence the tongue that cuts; or break free from manipulative emotional blackmail. What it does include is the ability to assert our will and choose, to speak out the small sacred word: NO.

What it also includes is the ability to seek the support we need in order to extricate ourselves from the lies that we have come to believe; or the opportunity to engage in learning processes that can illuminate what it means to be loved, what it means to live out the principles of 1 Corinthians 13, what it means to respect the fact that within us the Spirit of God always awaits.  

He knows where we hurt, how we got lost, and what it will take to restore us to wholeness.  He can lead us back to who we really are. To meet Him halfway, we must come into agreement with good; with reality; with the standard set in the Word of God.




As we continue participating in painful processes that paralyze our potential, God is waiting. If we quiet ourselves, we will hear Him saying, “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

Our ‘No’ can start as a whisper. If we are to be set free from toxic ties that distort reality, we must expose secrets and start to speak. Remember, what is loosed on earth, is loosed in heaven. We must come out of agreement with that which self-destructs and come into agreement with the Kingdom of Heaven. We must choose Life.

We start by taking responsibility for the fact that all along, we have been saying yes.




Breaking free from relational abuse is a personal process that needs patient and experienced intervention. Since unresolved pain so often resists resolution, denial persists. To push beyond the protection it provides involves entering into the original pain, at least in conscious awareness, so that insight can lead to understanding. As awareness increases, the captive person is invited to recognize patterns that play on repeat. Now there is something to work with, albeit many giants to confront, for sure.

Christine Caine, founder of A21 and a survivor of sexual abuse, says, “the pain of recovery is sometimes worse than the pain of the original injury.”

There are no short cuts. The healing process is painful. Disentangling from abusive agreements is like playing pick-up-sticks. Before a new foundation can be set in place, constructs we created must be collapsed. We must learn the steps of a new dance.  This takes time.

If it is your life that hurts, know that the Lord wants to reach in and restore all that was stolen from you. He wants to rebuild your gates with rubies, transform your valley of trouble into a door of hope.

If you are imprisoned by abuse, know that it is as you pass through your dark valley, that you will get to re-frame, forgive and overcome. As you keep walking, you will get to claim back those parts of yourself that you left behind. You will learn that a healthy love seeks open-heartedness. The memories will remain, but the pain will no longer play on repeat. Truth will defuse the triggers. Old lies will no longer be empowered to act as heat seeking missiles; no longer drive your heart to self-destruct.

You will look back and be able to bear your sore and shameful story; re-write your ending.

Out of your ashes, you will see beauty arise.




Refusing abuse requires a restoration of the wounded parts within. No doubt, somewhere in the past, emotional development was paralyzed by trauma. In an immature and unsupported attempt to process an overwhelming experience, a flawed belief was forged.

Flawed beliefs drive lie-based thinking. It takes immense clarity and courage to refuse the implicit and overt threats that resonate with these internalized lies.

Until we become willing to disengage from agreements that keep us in a life-threatening lock-step with abuse, our distorted perception will always attract deception




We all hurt in some way. We all need to pursue increased personal awareness ongoing; and surround ourselves with a safe, supportive and loving community who can consistently mirror reality back at us; infuse Truth into us, chip away at denial; hold us as we lament all that is lost. Encourage us to forgive and let go.

Extricating from the entanglements we agreed to will involve a bitter battle. But we can become equipped to fight with weapons that God provides; and be sure He is in the fire with us; that our enemy is already defeated. When we say yes to the freedom that is already our inheritance, we fight from Victory.

In the good company of Truth, magnetic methods used to ensure the abused remains obedient lose all appeal, and all power.




Crash Reality:  It qualifies as abuse when any person violates another person’s right to respect and honor on any level whatsoever.

The Bible calls on us to steward all of our life and everything in it in a manner that is good, that causes no harm.

Actively causing hurt, pain or damage to another individual is a heinous act.





Experiences we are exposed to in life can shape limiting belief systems that distort our perspective.

The way out is to examine our beliefs, consider whether they are relevant to the value systems and lifestyle we choose to adopt now.

We do not have to remain at the mercy of generational choices, nor mimic negative behavior once modelled to us. We must learn to identify what is good or bad for us. Give our heart a voice.

As we develop a more authentic identity that is grounded in Truth and surrounded by solid values, we will be able to see past facades people present, and discern appropriately. Decide whether it is safe for our heart to step in.

There is always the option to step out.

Remember. Your life matters.


By Noluthando Mthoba

Adult Centre Case Manager


Noluthando Mthoba originally came through our Youth Centre. She was then raised up as a Volunteer and now acts as Administrator. She is also a Case Manager for our Adult Female Centre. She models a magnificent mix of authenticity, integrity and super cool style, every day.

This article continues on from her Navigating Romance series. Stay posted and we will guide you into solutions around typical Relational Red Flags that arise for all of us. Previous posts include Self-Esteem, Loneliness and Caretaking.

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