Guest Post: I Was Hijacked By Lupus by Nompumelelo Simango

Shattered Glass
Photo Cred: Bloglovin’ Online

 

Imagine driving down a quiet suburb, with beautiful scenery, on a Sunday afternoon and then suddenly you are confronted by a couple of assailants; they smash your window, demand that you get out of your car with a gun pointed in your direction. Can you imagine how you would feel? The fear, the confusion, the shock and suddenly the world seems so much more different to what you had believed it to be.

 

Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I received the diagnosis on the 28th of August, 2013. For years, prior to the diagnosis, I woke up each morning with aching joints and muscles. I wondered what could possibly be the cause of the pain. I would visit my family doctor hoping that she would tell me something different but she would conduct numerous blood tests and find nothing.

 

Draw near to God
Photo Cred: Prayer Note Online

 

For years I lived with an illness whose name I didn’t know until a random swelling in the eye prompted my GP to refer me to an Ophthalmologist. He tested for a completely different element but, even then, when the results came back he assumed it was either one of these obvious two, HIV or an STD.

 

Then, when the HIV/STD results come back clear, he spoke of an Autoimmune Disease. When he said that, I was thinking; what in the world is that? Like how you would probably think, as the assailant approaches your car, is this happening to me? Right here, right now?

 

I was referred to a specialist to determine which of the Auto-immune diseases I may possibly be living with and that’s my story, that’s how I found out my body was hijacked by a chronic illness called Systematic Lupus Erythematosus or better known as Lupus.

 

His yoke is easy
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Most people have never heard of it. I, myself, only heard of it when Toni Braxton disclosed to her family in their Reality TV Show. So naturally, I was afraid, confused and shocked but I don’t think I experienced all these emotions at a scale higher than that of my parents. I recall the moment I tried to explain what Lupus is; I laugh today as I think back to that moment.

 

Being an African child makes the experience of living with an illness like Lupus completely unique in that there is not much awareness around the condition or any of the auto-immune diseases. In light of that, I was bombarded with numerous theories of what could possibly be wrong with me.

 

I was told that there is no such thing as an immune-system that is harmful to the body, I must just accept my “calling” as a Sangoma. I think the most bizarre of all the theories, bizarre because it came from the Christian community, was that it was a demon and I just needed to be delivered.



I simply cannot imagine where I would be right now if it weren’t for the fact that I have my own unique and personal relationship with God. It has kept me grounded but also, it has given me the will power to continue living.

 

Strength and Power
Photo Cred: Imgfave Online

 

Paul writes “…In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

 

And so, 4 years ago, I was given a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming conceited. The moment I accepted that the grace of God is sufficient I began living in the power of Christ. Not afraid of death, not afraid of pain anymore, I love God even more fiercely now and whenever I have a flare up I turn to my body and speak to this “thorn”:

 

“Lupus, you live in my body. Play nice because if I die, you die too.”

 

In the African context, living with Lupus is an everyday challenge. We are either considered lazy, bewitched or have some sort of calling. To all the beautiful bAw’s living with Lupus, you are stronger than what you believe and what you are suffering from has a medical explanation; but God is still in the business of healing. Even in the face of all the biological facts; have faith that defies logic.

 

Victory Found in Jesus
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Love,

Nompumelelo Simango

Mpumi Pic

Mpumi is a gorgeous young woman who is passionate about God and spirituality. She is a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. Mpumi holds a degree in Political Science and currently works as a PA. She enjoys reading, writing, singing and outdoor activity. You can find Mpumi on Facebook or Instagram to get a glimpse of some of the inspiration she shares.


 

Thank you Mpumi for your vulnerability and testimony. God truly has been good to you and may He continue to be your strength and joy.

Thank you sisters for reading. If you would like to share your story, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. Your story can set someone free and bring them healing.

I’m still praying for you.

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Guest Post: Why Your Life May Need To Fall Apart by Norma Mzizi

Light in Darkness
Photo Cred: From Up North Online

 

Becoming ‘Norma Natural‘ has been a difficult, lonely yet fulfilling process. I was exhausted one Sabbath evening and as I lay on my bed I tried to figure out what it was that had me so tired on a day I should be feeling rejuvenated. Didn’t the answer come pouring like an open tap…..I was busy – busy doing so much for everyone else around me.

 

I was coming from a toxic, abusive and stagnant relationship. In trying to find myself again I got lost in religion, not in Christ. I wanted to be the perfect friend, sister and maybe wife. I made sure I looked right and sounded right, tried to be politically correct, and held on! I healed from the abuse but opened up for serious corrosion spiritually.

 

I spent days perfecting a company that was not mine, feeling drained and unappreciated. Embraced so called friends who took my time, my clothes and even my sanity at times. Thank God I learnt just in time….

 

Come Fridays, I’d be preparing Sabbath lunch and working on whatever program I needed to present or planning this and that. Don’t get me wrong, my heart and mind where in it all, but I did not realise I was giving and not feeding myself in the process. I was not just seeing to everyone’s needs, I was giving them me. Giving them parts of myself that I could not carry on without. Like an oak tree my shade was large enough for everyone, but my roots were weak, tired, dying!

 

You have to die a few times
Photo Cred: Buzznick Online

 

Who are you Norma? Are you this friend that everyone is crying to? Are you “Mrs Girlfriend” but not wife? Are you a pillar without a foundation? What are you doing at church besides serving and keeping to rules and regulations? Who are you behind those perfect outfits and flawless makeup? Do you even like eating what you are told is right to eat? Guuuurl! Who art thou?

 

Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) it took a shattered, empty feeling to get me back on track. My life came to a screeching halt. Down and disappointed, alone and weak – my awakening began.  Now God could have His turn. Now I was ready for His will, His purpose, His blue print for me. No rules no religion, it was time to seek my true self and feed her right so I could genuinely be right to the next person.

 

I stopped doing church. Yes, doing. Because I was doing it and not growing in Christ. I was perfect to a standard that someone else set. A diet that someone else prescribed, a belief system that was do or die. For a few more weeks I held on, trying to figure out if I was losing my sanity or actually finding it.

 

God never allows pain
Photo Cred: Daily Scrolls Online

 

Eventually I cut my relaxed hair (a girl is about to change her life when she cuts her hair, come on somebody!). I remember the liberating feeling of standing in the shower with no fear of messing up a “hair do”. By the time I started putting on make-up I became rebellious. I had that “why should I?” moment. Anyway who says I’m not ravishing, drop dead gorgeous without it? This stuff stings and burns my eyes anyway! So much work and for what?! At that moment I realised I could go natural in every sense of the word.

 

I started researching on ways to get back to basics. I wanted to be true to me as an earth child and the spirit within. To listen to the reason why I loved walking bare feet on grass and listening to the sound of water; to feed that spirit that was so in touch with her nature but had strayed to foreign “truths”. Long story short, I found shea butter, coconut oil and black soap. Those were my first back to Eden cosmetics. Didn’t my skin and hair flourish!

 

I became so radical in my return to nature so much so that people asked me what I was on. I ate what I figured worked well with my blood type (Yes, I’m a meat eater y’all)! I devoured that fish and meat and got my sexy back either way. I learnt to listen to that inner voice, to listen to my body, to hear my inner being.

 

All the while many things were falling off: The need to impress was dying. I did what I could when I could. I even stopped going on unnecessary dates, where I knew these men were only interested in me making them look good. It was all but physical attraction.

 

They could not stomach that I was a single mother of two. I wasn’t good enough to take to Mum and Dad who expected him to bring home a virgin. What is sad is that these “godly” men are out here sleeping with us but they want to marry a virgin. Dating and relationships is a whole book on its own. Let me leave it right here.

God never uses anyone greatly until
Photo Cred: Lil Blue Boo Online

 

As I was saying, people became inquisitive of the new look and confident force driving me. I have a deep sense of connection now. I know who God says I am. I know I am a spirit having a human experience in a body of clay; this zulu girl, intombi yakoMzizi  umaJama kaZulu uMpinda kaVezi isalukazi esimabelebele esancelisa ingane ngaphesheya kolwandle! Umuzi ubiywa ngenhloko zamadoda, uzulu kalidumi libonakala ngezikhukhula zomfula, umphankomo enebele,  Jama kaNdaba, KaPhunga, kaMageba, kaNkosinkulu, kaZulu, kaNtombela, kaMalandela, kaLusulumane, kaGumede, kaMnguni waseMbo! Lilizela bo!!!

 

I started sharing my secret and giving products to people. When I realised I was getting a following I started selling the products and different remedies that I found. At times other people would bring their own things and ask me to blend them as they wanted that “Norma’s Touch” thing hence the birth of Norma’s touch organic treatments & lifestyle products! My motto today is “If you cannot eat it, then it should not be on your hair and skin.”

Your pain often reveals God's purpose
Photo Cred: i.pinimg.com

It took my hitting absolute rock bottom for God to get my attention and grow me into my purpose for being on this earth. We tend to feel as though God has forsaken us when we are faced with our darkest moments, and we forget that He creates best out of void and darkness (Genesis 1:2). If you’re going through a season of darkness, pain and uncertainty draw nearer to God. He is trying to birth something new in you.

Love and light,

Norma Mzizi

Norma

Norma is a young woman who is passionate about people living a natural and healthy lifestyle as God intended. She is full of humour and great compassion for her fellow man, and seeks to live authentically. You can find Norma and her amazing natural products on Facebook and Instagram.

 


 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and as if everything in your life is literally falling apart, it is most probably because God is seeking to transform your life for the better. He is seeking to expose the gold within you so that you can live for Him and be a blessing to those around you. Don’t give up sis.

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: How Going Natural Was A Journey Of Love by Paloma Ka-David Ncoco

 

Journey Of Love
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

Are you confident? Headstrong? Did you believe “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” So was I till the day I decided to do something different.

 

I was 17 going on 18 and I had been relaxing my hair for years. If it wasn’t relaxed it was always blow-dried and straightened. I would spend hours the night before frying my hair to bone straight perfection. That was what society deemed ‘acceptable’ so that was what I fed my mind until one day I decided to make a change. Little did I know that that change would come with hurt feelings and hiding a part of who I am once again.

 

Pain of Change
Photo Cred: i.pinimg.com

 

I had learnt how to put my hair in twists at night and let it out in the morning. This was one of my go-to tricks when I’d wear my natural hair (there were times I’d go up to 8 months without relaxing and only blow & straighten). One day I decided I’d wear my hair natural at school and so I did.

 

When I walked into my first class the white kids started to laugh at my hair asking, “What did you do?” “Where you electrocuted?” The black kids felt my hair and would ask why it’s not coarse or why it felt like cotton; “You’re not really black then”, they’d say to me. After that day I was so overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and I knew then I wouldn’t wear my natural hair for a very very long time.

 

Words kill or words give life - you choose
Photo Cred: Pktfuel Online

 

My big turnaround came towards the end of 2015. Mid-year I had bleached my hair and the ends were fried & dyed to death so I had to chop them off. My friend had been researching natural hair and I asked her to share with me tips on how to take care of my natural hair and I myself began to do my own research and I started buying the correct products and wearing my hair natural with the occasional straightening.

 

This time around I wasn’t in high school and over the years I had grown a thicker skin. The world around me had grown and was more socially aware and accepting of change so if there were negative comments I knew those words wouldn’t affect me as much as they had years before.

 

Give some love to yourself
Photo Cred: Walk The Talk Show

 

In 2016 after experimenting with different hair colours for months and bleaching more than I should, I went and did ‘the big chop’. I must admit I felt like “What did I do? Now I look like a boy.” But eventually I fell in love with my new look. My hair was growing at a steady pace and more importantly it was healthy and strong. This time around I was accepting of myself rather than accepting of what others expected.

 

My journey has been more than just switching lanes from chemical treatment to natural haircare. It’s been a journey of learning self-love; not letting the opinions of others affect me enough to change who I am and making sure I have beautiful strong hair to show for it.

 

Paloma Pic

Paloma ka-David Ncoco, is a 23 year old creative and designer who currently lives in Sandton, Johannesburg. Her passion in life is creating whilst using many different art forms to do so. She completed two courses in makeup and photography and is currently working as a photographer and makeup artist whilst making plans to complete her fashion degree. Paloma is a strong young woman who is determined to live life not bound by the opinions of others.

 

 

I’m so grateful to Paloma for sharing her personally painful but hopeful experience in seeking out her true identity. She has reminded us that your journey with your hair goes far deeper than the external. It is an expression of what is going on within you.

What has transitioning to natural hair meant for you personally? What challenges/obstacles have you faced in this journey? I would love to hear about your experiences too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

Your Mess Is A Message

Message in your mess image 3
Photo Cred: lukass1094.deviantart

I spoke recently at a week of prayer targeted at young women and shared about purpose. God placed it on my heart to share about how there are many people (not just women) who have disqualified themselves from living a purposeful life for one of two main reasons.

 

They believe that they have made too many mistakes:

  • lied too much;
  • had sex outside of marriage;
  • had a baby/babies out of wedlock;
  • hurt too many people;
  • they’ve messed things up in their relationship with God or don’t know His word well enough;
  • wasted too much of their life drinking, clubbing, smoking etc.

 

Then there are others who feel that life has dealt them an unfair card:

  • they’re not smart enough;
  • they haven’t been raised in a good enough environment;
  • they don’t have anything profound to share;
  • they come from a messed up family;
  • they don’t have the right networks to make a real difference.

 

Your past does not define you
Photo Cred: etsy.com

 

This month, my team and I made it our sole purpose to celebrate black African women on our social media pages – whether they are currently doing “big things” or they are your normal everyday woman. We took this decision specifically because we have a strong belief that every single woman has a story and is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14).

 

When we sent out requests to feature women and young girls who truly inspire us, there were mixed responses. There were very few women who took up the offer with no hesitation at all. Then others who hesitated strongly. There were responses of “I don’t have anything profound to share” or “What would I say about myself?” to “Really?! Me? I inspire you?”

 

It honestly made me sad to know that the majority of women doubt that they have anything of value to impart to this world. We tend to limit all that God would do in and through us because of external circumstances that are precisely the tools God has employed for us to be vessels of hope for Him.

 

your story is the key
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

When I spoke last week, I shared the story of Jochebed (Mother to Moses) who, despite the slavery, oppression, fear, and hopelessness she faced in Egypt, raised her son for God. She was intentional in how she cared for him and even how she released him into God’s hands when she could no longer hide him.

 

Today, the majority of the world knows the name of Moses. We have the first 5 books in the Bible because of this man. We have been blessed with the commandments of God through Moses as a conduit. He was one of the greatest men to ever live and all because of a woman who dared to believe that God could use her unfavourable circumstances for good.

 

your path of pain
Photo Cred: Shining With Sparkle

 

What am I trying to say?

 

Sis, how you allow God to shape your story will be the reason that someone doesn’t give up today. It will be the reason that someone will choose to try again to pursue their dream because of how you have done the same despite failing so many times before. It will be the reason that someone will finally decide to face their struggles honestly and do something about it.

You need to be aware that the devil comes to plant doubts about whether God can use you for His good and the good of others. Yes you may have sinned but remember the promise of Romans 8:1 which states that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

You see, it is precisely the parts of you that you feel are too boring or too messy or too embarrassing that are used by God to bring glory to Him and to bless those around you. Your story, your life, your experiences are not just for you – they are for the enlightenment of others (Hebrews 10:24). There is healing in telling our stories – both for those who hear them and for us who tell them.

 

Healing quote Rick Warren
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

And so my prayer today is that women would own their stories, their past, their failures, and their mess, and allow God to birth their purpose through their pain. That we would stop benchmarking our effectiveness in this world with people who seem to have it on lock or with what society says is success. That instead we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us and allow Christ’s righteousness to fulfill what our own filthy righteousness can never do.

 

For as long as your motive is to honour God and to live life according to His will for you, you are an inspiration to the person next to you. Through your smile, your determination, your perseverance, your kindness, your humility, your compassion, your quiet grace. Lift your head up high sis. Don’t count yourself out. The world needs who God created you to be, and that includes your messy life experiences.

 

You can learn a lot from your mistakes
Photo Cred: E-Global Natural Health

 

Do you have another understanding of why we as women generally struggle to believe we are inspiring? Are you someone who already believes they are an inspiration to others? Please share with us so we can learn from each other!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

You inspire people who pretend
Photo Cred: Tovares Grey

Things I Wish Black African Queens Would Realize – Open Letter From A Black African King

Journalling 2
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you get that many civilisations are born through you and because of you?

It may come to others as though I am being biased because I am black and have been raised by you, a black woman. If you look around, however, Nubian Queen, you’ll notice, many other races are raised by you too.

Resilience and Confidence
Photo Cred: Bippity Boppity Boo

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you understand your value and how much you give back?

It’s said that when a woman has money, her society is always blessed. She will always sow seeds of development in her society because she naturally gives back. I have seen this in my own home. How my mother would take care of cousins and send them to school with our home’s collective incomes. We would move from country to country and she would bring someone from her home village to educate and care for.

You have changed lives Nubian Queen, because of your generosity, consideration and love for your people.

 

Seed
Photo Cred: Jew In Jail

 

Dear black African Queen,

Do you know how tough you are?

How resilient you have to be in the work place? How opportunities that land in your hands can sometimes be leftovers from those before you but somehow with little you make much.

You rise, dominate and sustain.

 

Still I Rise
Photo Cred: I Like Calligraphy

 

Dear black African Queen,

I bow in adoration of your resilience, selflessness and ability to raise nations.

More importantly, however, I hope you appreciate yourself just as much too.

Regards,

A Young Black African King

 

Nubian Queens
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

What are your thoughts on this letter? Do you see yourself in this light bAw? What else would you add to this letter?

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Before you go sis, here are a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw this Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat soon!

Guest Post: Dealing With Disappointment When We Move In Faith by Rumbidzayi Dube

Disspointment Image 2
Photo Cred: zsazsabellagio.com

I am a thinker, a wonderer. When I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, I find writing helps relieve the pressure like an acupuncture of the soul.

I ‘recently’ took a step in faith. Well, it has been a journey of 20 odd months in the making with each stage requiring that I move in faith. In the beginning, I grappled with it being the path that God really wanted me to take. I didn’t deserve to. This was WAY out of my league. But God did His thing and through prayer, the Word, tears, fighting through doubts and fears, I accepted that it was for me. God has led me every step of the way.

It is nearly crunch time for that dream to come into effect. I am in a period of waiting and it has been the most difficult, heart wrenching, spiritual, hopeful time of my life. I have found myself oscillating between confidence and uncertainty, faith and fear. I know I am not meant to be fearful for “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of…” (2 Timothy 1:7). Have I failed as a believer then? I don’t believe so because ultimately, I rest on the laurels of God’s promises and that He loves me. He could never hurt me.

In approaching this critical point in my life, I have had to be brutally honest about what the outcomes may be. As friends and family alike pray and fast for me, I have come face to face with many a reality. God can come through in the most unexpected ways for me as He has done for the Joseph’s, Daniel’s, Esther’s and Ruth’s in times before. He could also decide to take me on a different course. The question becomes, how do I deal with disappointment in the face of faith?

Dealing with Disappointment

I am reminded of David’s story when his son fell ill and he prayed to God for his healing. His son ultimately died. But David’s reaction was so potent. He rose up out of his place of anguish, bathed and went to worship God. The same goes for Job. He had been a faithful servant of God and trial after trial faced him. In all he faced, he continued to worship God and praise Him.

You see, faith is not dependent on an outcome we want being fulfilled. Faith is a belief that “all things are working for the good of they that love the Lord” (Romans 8:28) and He is working for your good. So in that, faith is about praising and worshipping God no matter the circumstances or outcomes. You trust that He is working in your favour.

I struggle with this notion – grapple with it. On one end, you would have heeded God’s voice every step of the way. Surely, He was working towards a particular outcome. So, when the outcome is different to what you had expected, then what? Did you hear wrong?

Maybe. Or maybe you have not reached the final destination. God needs to take you on a detour to work out some kinks in your character before reaching that destination. There are lessons to be learnt so you know Whose you are and ultimately, who deserves the praise. For Joseph, it was 13 years of slavery and ill treatment so he could learn humility; have his faith tested; point others to God; and lead his people out of starvation. All this, I believe, so he would not claim all the praise and glory for himself but give it to God.

It is hard. Difficult to understand, but remember that God’s thoughts towards us are “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Remember, these thoughts are ultimately for your salvation. So, come what may, that is God’s number one priority for you. Learn the lesson and do not let go of His promises. And whatever may be, DO NOT LOSE HOPE. All is never lost.

Rumbi Dee 2

Rumbi is a member of the bAw Team and a contributor to the movement. She is a gifted young woman with the ability to bring to life the dreams of others in the marketing and creative realm. She currently consults as a PR and Marketing manager while daily pushing to fulfill the dreams God has placed on her heart to make a difference in this world. She also pens her thoughts on life on her lovely blogsite, and can be found on Instagram, FB or Twitter.

 

Warning Signs That You Are In An Abusive/Unhealthy Relationship

 

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Photo Cred: blkwomenart.com

Disclaimer: This article should not be substituted for psychological/medical advice. It is based on personal experiences and lessons garnered from my studies and personal reading plus the experiences of those around me.

 

The issue of violence and abuse in the South African community has garnered much attention in recent months, and rightfully so. More people than we realize are in abusive relationships. Abuse is such a personal and deeply painful experience that can be extremely detrimental to the life of the person who receives it. It can destroy families and generations – just look at Jacob’s family drama (Genesis 34) or David’s for that matter (2 Samuel chapters 10 – 15). It can even cost your salvation.

 

The sad reality is that more and more young people are entering romantic relationships at younger and younger ages, and without any counsel or guidance. This is mainly driven by the fact that we are an independent generation, and we “mind our own business”. We no longer value the community aspect of life that can act as a shield against harmful situations. Nevertheless, we are blessed with different platforms, including blog sites/online reading, that allow us to gain information that can help us in our situations.

 

As I have written before, I have witnessed abuse and I have endured emotional and verbal abuse myself. God’s love, compassion, patience, mercy and goodness has led me to receive (and to continue to receive) healing over this issue. There are signs that I have managed to pick up on from experience and research that indicate whether you are in an abusive/unhealthy relationship. I thought I would share these with you today:

 

You begin to hide your relationship. I remember my very first relationship. I never discussed it with my family and actually felt relief that they knew nothing about it. I didn’t necessarily acknowledge it then, but I was not sure about this guy and how we related. I knew that if my loved ones got to understand what was going on between us (constant fighting; cheating; being put down in front of others) they would be shocked and disappointed, and would ask me to let him go. If you find that you don’t want even those closest to you to know about your relationship, something may be wrong.

 

You constantly defend your partner to yourself and to others. This one has to be one of the most painful ones for me. Your partner may be extremely mean to you and to those around you yet you find yourself fighting to highlight his/her “goodness” at any chance. You convince yourself that he/she is not that bad but the problem is that it has become a daily exercise. Every person has their flaws and in a healthy relationship this is acknowledged and addressed with your partner. However, in an unhealthy/abusive situation, these flaws and bad traits are the norm in how you relate. If you’re having to regularly excuse your partner’s behaviour especially to yourself, it’s a red light.

 

Your partner wants to know your whereabouts 24/7. In the initial stages of a relationship a couple wants to spend as much time as possible together and send cute messages of “So, what you doin’?” or “Where are you? I wish I could be there” etc. There is nothing wrong with being interested in the activities of a partner, but it becomes concerning when a partner needs to know your exact moves all the time. Not only that – he/she needs to know who you will be with and for how long. This is especially disturbing if you are not even married to this person because it will be magnified in marriage. If you are not free with your time and in your relationship, you are not free in your life.

 

You begin to doubt your right to make choices. Following on from the above warning, another red flag in a relationship is when you can no longer make decisions without the input and direction of your partner. God created you in His image which means that He has blessed you with wisdom and with the authority to decide on things for your life (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22). He is Sovereign and Lord over all, yet He chooses to allow you the free will to decide what you want in your life including having Him as your Saviour. Therefore, there is no reason that another creature like you should determine your own free will and choices (this is outside of the argument of parents raising their children or spouses making joint decisions). If you find yourself unable to make your own decisions because of what a partner would say or what they tell you, something is not right.

 

You feel like you can’t trust anyone because they don’t get your relationship. I distinctly remember the time when my friends were trying to alert me to the fact that my boyfriend had been and was still cheating on me, and putting me down in public. My gut knew it was true so I confronted him about it. He manipulated me by reminding me that we are in this together and some people don’t want to see us together so we need to be careful of what others say. From that moment, I began to view friends through suspicious eyes because I felt that they were trying to cause a rift in our relationship. An abusive/unhealthy partner does not want you to interact with people who can help wake you up to the unhealthy situation you find yourself in, and they will isolate you from the counsel of loved ones. You will begin to believe that other people just don’t understand the relationship the way you two do and so you’ll deal with it (and all its unhealthiness) alone. If you find yourself unable to be honest with anyone else but your partner about your relationship, it’s a red flag.

 

You have extreme highs and lows in your relationship. All relationships go through great times and bad times. But a healthy relationship has a general balance, calmness and normalcy to it. I had past relationships where we were either so on top of the world and it felt like no-one else could ever make me that happy or I was extremely hurt, unhappy, sad and confused by that same individual. I did not have a general sense of well-being or security in our relationship and unless I felt those extreme emotions when I was with someone, I believed that the relationship was not a good one. I believed that a great relationship meant feeling either euphoric or highly melancholic – it was a literal drug. A healthy relationship should nurture your emotions rather than constantly drain them through either extremely good or extremely bad feelings.

This list is not exhaustive and there are countless articles online that deal with the realities of abusive relationships. I haven’t even touched on the physical and sexual aspect of abusive relationships and I am mostly speaking from a dating perspective because that is my experience. Nevertheless, warning signs of abuse are generally mostly emotional.

 

Sis, if you have identified with one or more of these warning signs, I plead with you to seek help for your situation. You don’t have to deal with this alone. Or if you know someone who seems to be in this kind of a relationship, please get advice on how to best help them. You can feel free to contact me or you can contact:

  • Lifeline on 011 715 2000;
  • POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) on 011 642 4345/6;
  • SAMSOSA (South African Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse) on 071 280 9918 or;
  • T.E.A.R.S. Foundation (Transform Education About Rape And Sexual Abuse) on *134*7355#

 

If you have any other warning signs that you have identified, please do share with us in the comments section so that we are all the wiser. Let us be each other’s keepers.

 

I am praying for you.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee