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While I was having my hair coloured at the hair dressers today, I stumbled across an article in a woman’s magazine about a lady who was nearly killed by her boyfriend. As she traced back through their early dating relationship she built a picture of his escalating changing behaviour.

They were definite early warning signs and I jotted them down to show you how Mr Right turned to out to be Mr Horribly Wrong:

He started off being handsomely charming, intoxicating her with gifts, holidays and romantic nights out

She spent more and more time with him until her family complained that they hardly ever saw her

When she tried to reconnect with her family or talk to other people at their local pub he sulked or shouted at her

When the shouting and sulking didn’t work, he then became verbally abusive calling her all sorts of derogatory names down the phone

At this point the victim saw the and ended the relationship

He became regretful and apologised saying he would never to be like that again, she took him back

But he did do it again ….and again. The scenario of obsession and apologising continued for 2 years.

After 2 years the victim fled her home hoping she could break the cycle and start over.

Her abuser found her and demanded she pay back every penny he had ever spent on gifts. Too afraid to say no she made the payments.

Then silence.

Then a text message: I am going to work aboard, please meet me for lunch, one last time.

She said yes.

They met. He carried on like everything was fine between them. They were meant to have lunch at the park but he drove to the moors.

He beat her until she lay lifeless.

He thought he killed her. But she survived. He was sent to prison for 2 years.

Now this might seem like an extreme case but everyday but 1 in 4 women in the UK suffer domestic violence and 2 women each week lose their lives.

Early Warning Signs

There are always early warning signs and there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Romance is good but stay balanced and learn about the person who is having such a mushy affect on you! Who is romancing you is more important than the romance itself!

Stay connected to your friends, family and activities. Involve your date in your life, don’t spend every night on your own with him. If he has a problem with having a life and seeing your friends and family you need to know that sooner than later and you can find out by arranging to have date nights in groups and by telling him sorry but I am washing my hair tonight. Mr Wrong does not like hearing no but Mr Right will love to you have some independence, it will attract him even more to you! Mr Wrong will dislike your freedom very much!

If he sulks and throws tantrums don’t give into his behaviour. Set some limits on it. Let him know that if he wants to date you, then he will have to get use to you seeing your friends and having some independence. He will either keep throwing tantrums and sulking, in which case, do you really want to stick around and be with someone that demands you give all your time and attention to him? Or he will realise he is being unreasonable and change his ways

If he starts running you down and name calling I would see some very serious red flags. Nip disrespect in the bud. If you are going to give him a chance to turn around then set your limits immediately. Tell him the relationship cannot go any further until he learns to respect you. Deal with the disrespect. Keep seeing your friends and have a life of your own.

Mr Wrong won’t be able to deal with you taking care of yourself and may walk away looking for someone else who he can be obsessive and controlling with. Mr Right but not right now, may have to do some growing and learning before you can have a relationship with him but Mr Right will already be happy to be your friend and allow you to blossom. He will want you to have supportive friends and family.

Learn to tackle the red flags as they appear, it is a lot easier than trying to do this two years later when your self esteem has gone because of his dominance and control!

So what does this mean for you?

  • It means you have a support network
  • It means you can say no
  • It means you feel good about yourself and that you know you deserve to be respected
  • It means you can express your feelings, opinions and ideas
  • It means you can face discomfort and conflict in a relationship

It means that you know you are loved by God and that all your needs are met in Him. It means you believe that if you have to let this one go, you have faith in that God that He has something better up the road for you.


Ron and Nancy Rocky are right up there amongst my favourite, favourite presenters and speakers on breakcing the cycle of unhealthy relationships. This is a good financial investment into healing your life.

They help you unload the past and you learn exactly why you were set up to fall for the relationships you have been in.

Whenever I am interviewed about Domestic Abuse in the church, a question about Ephesians 5:22-25 normally arises. The word says: For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. (NLT). Peter echoes the same type of sentiment in 1 Peter 3: (read all) ‘In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands’….

Does this mean that a woman should submit even when her husband is abusive? Should she accept his authority as the final word even when that authority is misused?

Some people will interpret submission as an opportunity to be controlling but Paul is not giving anyone the green light to being oppressive.

Lets start with how Paul begins chapter 5 – ‘Follow God’s example in everything you do….’ then he embarks on a long list of character qualities that we are to develop. In verse 21 Paul then states what will happen as a result: ‘And further, you will submit to one another out of reverance for Christ. You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord‘. In other words: As you develop a Christ like character you will find that you will submit to one another, even you wives will submit to your husbands as you do to God and just as the church submits to Christ.

So what does it mean to submit? Submit means: to yield, to agree with, to give in. So, as a result of developing these qualities a woman won’t resist her man. When and why does she resist him? She resists when there is no trust and love. A woman will pull away when her man is abusive, untrustworthy, uncaring, unholy, unfaithfuly, neglectful, intimidating etc.(by the way a guy will shut down when a woman is this way too!).

Now some people argue that an abused women does yield to her perpertrator. But I say this is different to what Paul is talking about. An abused woman is not free to give and yield her love or herself freely. She lives in fear, resentment, mistrust, pain, etc. If a woman is submitting to an abuser its because of the power and control he has over her – it is not the same as the submission Paul is talking about. Remember, Love is a Choice and is given freely just as Christ freely choses to love and give Himself to us.

Now lets look at our relationship with God: I yield and agree with Christ because of WHO HE IS. His love has won me over. It certainly would not be that way if God was a tyrant. God wants us to be like Him so that we submit to one another. We all know it’s a lot easier to yield to people who are loving and safe then it is to move towards difficult, uncaring, unloving people.

So what is this list of qualities a man is to have before expecting his wife to submit?

  • He needs to have a heart filled with love (Love is gentle, kind, patient and hopes and believes in all things)
  • He needs to be sexually moral and pure
  • He can’t be greedy and selfish, he needs to think about his wife’s needs and not just his own
  • He mustn’t be verbally abusive: obstaining from course jokes, foolish talk and obsence stories
  • He doesn’t blame others for his behaviour, he doesn’t commit acts of darkness and evil (hitting, controlling, stalking, lying, abusing, torturing, molesting, raping are all acts of evil).
  • He doesn’t act thoughtlessly but considers God in all his ways
  • He doesn’t get drunk and is controlled by the Holy Spirit

Submission comes as a result of Christ like character.

Submission due to demand, threat and control is not biblical submission it is the response of someone who has a fearful expectation of what will happen if they don’t comply.

September 2008
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