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10 Rwandan women reveal 10 red flags

In Rwanda, as in many corners of the world, women navigate an intricate matrix of relationships, societal expectations, and personal aspirations. Often, they develop uncanny perceptiveness, sensing warning signs – or red flags – in their experiences.

Red flags are warning signs that indicate unhealthy or manipulative behavior. They are not always recognizable at first — which is part of what makes them so dangerous.

We’ve spoken with ten extraordinary Rwandan women who shared such pivotal moments in their lives. Their stories shed light on crucial insights that can be life lessons for us all.

Broken trust

Trust is not just a must-have in any relationship, it should be a non-negotiable. Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, where partners rely on each other’s honesty, reliability, and integrity. It fosters a sense of security and allows for open communication and vulnerability.

Clarisse Umubyeyi, a 34-year-old businesswoman from Kigali, emphasizes the importance of trust. “When trust is violated, even in small things, it shatters the foundation of a relationship.” She warns against underestimating minor breaches, which often precede major trust issues.

“If someone takes violates your trust once, then I think you should keep an eye out because most of the time, they will do it again.”

No boundaries

Respect for boundaries is equally crucial as trust as it acknowledges each individual’s independence and establishes healthy limits for personal space, choices, and privacy within the relationship.

Yvonne Mwanankabandi, a 29-year-old teacher, laments the frequent disregard of personal boundaries. “The moment someone shows blatant disrespect for my personal space or boundaries, it’s a major red flag,” she said. “Respect for personal boundaries signals respect for individuality.”

Mwanankabandi says If someone does not respect your privacy and is always looking to invade your own space such as looking into your phone, reading your messages, and inspecting every area of your life, that person is a red flag be it a woman or a man.

Economic control

Economic control from a partner can be detrimental, it can destroy the balance of power and independence within a relationship. It can lead to feelings o, dependency, and a lack of agency, stifling personal growth and freedom.

For Solange Murekatete, a 40-year-old farmer from Gisenyi, control over finances is a glaring red flag, actually, it is a big stop sign. “If a partner starts controlling how I spend my money, it’s a sign of economic abuse.” Her experience echoes a common form of covert control in relationships, even in the Rwandan context.

Constant criticism

Constant criticism creates a toxic environment, diminishing self-esteem and fostering insecurity, making it challenging to maintain a positive and loving connection.

A woman who is always diminishing a man, and a man who is always criticizing a woman is a no-no.

Immaculée Uwimana, 33, highlights how constant criticism can be devastating. “The unending need to criticize, even under the disguise of ‘joking’, is a sign of emotional abuse,” she shared.

Many people are quick to say “Just joking” when they are confronted but that is a clear sign they meant what they said and should be held accountable.

No respect for consent

Disregarding consent is a serious violation of trust and an absolute breach of boundaries. It undermines the autonomy and dignity of the other person and removes the very essence of a healthy relationship.

Jeanne Mukankusi, emphasizes the fundamental importance of consent. “Any form of pressure or manipulation that overrides my decision-making ability is a red flag. Consent should be clear, enthusiastic, and constant.”

Isolation from other people

For Aline Umutoni, a 27-year-old nurse, attempts to isolate her from friends and family were alarming. “Being subtly distanced away from my loved ones signaled an attempt to create dependency, an early sign of forced control.”


Gaslighting involves manipulating and distorting reality, causing the victim to question their own sanity and perception, resulting in emotional and psychological harm.

Nadia Mukamurenzi, warns against gaslighting. “If your feelings are constantly invalidated, making you doubt your reality, it’s gaslighting – a manipulative tactic used to gain power and control.”

Violence and anger

Violence in anger is completely unacceptable in a relationship and poses a severe threat to the safety and well-being of both partners. It is a manifestation of control and dominance that must never be tolerated.

Dianne Uwacu cautions against any form of violence. “The first time a hand was raised in anger, even if it didn’t land, was a clear indication of the potential for physical abuse,” she confessed.

“If you see that, you should get away before it is too late.”

Controlling behavior

Controlling behavior restricts individual freedoms, stifles personal growth, and fosters an unhealthy power dynamic, inhibiting the development of a nurturing and egalitarian relationship.

Claudine Mukarugwiza warns against partners who exercise excessive control. “If they want to control where you go, who you see, what you do, it’s not love. It’s control.”

Inconsistency in words and actions

Inconsistency in words and actions removes trust and breeds confusion within a relationship. It creates an environment of uncertainty, making it difficult to rely on the partner’s intentions or commitments. Consistency and reliability are vital for building a strong and stable foundation where both partners feel secure and understood.

Finally, Beatrice Ishimwe, a university student, speaks about the dissonance between words and actions. “Promises mean nothing when actions do not back them. Consistency is key.”

As we navigate our lives, let’s remember that a red flag ignored today could be a disaster averted tomorrow.

Straight out of Twitter