Religious or Spiritual Abuse Recovery

There is hope for victims of religious or spiritual abuse. It is not uncommon for someone who has suffered at the hands of a religious organization, leader, spiritual mentor or counselor to recoil from the event in a negative way.

recovery from religious or spiritual abuse

Of course this type of abuse can take many forms… The abuse could be psychological or emotional in nature or physiological including everything from physical abuse to (thankfully more rare) sexual indiscretions. Primary psychological assaults include the loss of individuality or self-worth in an attempt to promote single-mindedness and ease of group management, loss of personal rights, intimidation and dominance.

Spiritual and religious organizations’ leadership rosters are often infiltrated by sociopathic or psychopathic individuals who are driven to exercise control over others whom they see as lesser or subservient. In the event that you have had the unfortunate encounter with such an overbearing individual; you must know that he or she may not be an adequate representation of the group or organization that he or she represents.

What happens if you ask questions or question authority? In a spiritually abusive environment one may experience ridicule for asking questions and you may sense an increasingly hostile response with threats of excommunication or threats of eternal consequences.

An extremely exclusive organization may promote isolation from outsiders, cutting ties to non-believers promoting an “Us vs. Them,” attitude. Other signs you might be subjected to potential spiritual abuse may include multiple markers indicating levels of spirituality (and/or entitlement), penalties for non-compliance and financial exploitation.

You may have been the victim of religious or spiritual abuse if:

  1. A religious organization or spiritual leader
    1. Defrauds via deception
    2. Manipulates
    3. Exercises forms of mind control
    4. Emotionally exploits
    5. Psychologically abuses
  2. A spiritually-based group that
    1. Has a dual reality (insiders vs. outsiders)
    2. Secret rites or insider’s only, “truths”
    3. Critically denounces outsiders
    4. Expresses dire consequences for non-members
    5. Enforces compliance
  3. An organization that
    1. Denounces criticism
    2. Maintains a false public image
    3. Requires donation of one’s personal belongings
    4. Claims to have ultimate “enlightenment”
    5. Practices an elitist perspective

risk of spiritual exploitation

Protecting one’s self from dangerous, compromising or litigious circumstances is completely normal and necessary for self preservation, yet our defensive response is in the form of overcompensation. It’s not uncommon for a victim of this kind of abuse to turn their backs totally on all things of a spiritual nature.

Believing in a higher power can be one of the most empowering forces in your life; to completely reject the entire concept based on a single episodic experience, could have a devastating effect one’s overall quality of life.

Regardless of the excessive intensity of your experience, you can be among the many survivors of religious or spiritual abuse, with your faith firmly intact. Although you may have isolated yourself from all things spiritual in order to put a stop to the abuse, you can reclaim your spirituality in a positive and life-affirming way.

Whether you are struggling with these issues from occurrences of this kind of abuse in the past, or if you are concerned about victimization that may be taking place in the present, there is hope for you to realize a continued spiritual life, free from bondage or pain as a result of the person(s), group or organization who may have, or may be exploiting you, either indirectly or maliciously.

Unresolved spiritual abuse can have continued negative impact on one’s life harboring resentment, lack of trust, difficulty in inter-personal relationships; blocking personal achievement, abundance, happiness and preventing you from achieving your highest and best.

You can heal from your abusive past so that you can go on with your life no longer being a victim. Take charge of your life, embrace your spiritual healing and don’t let this experience from experiencing all the best things this life has to offer and start your healing process today.

As you peel back the layers of your experience, you may discover this has prepared you for your ability to reach out to other victims as a mentor to help them deal with the same challenges you have survived.

Are You a Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

In my practice, I meet many different kinds of people. Certain people are attracted to me because of my skill of dealing with people who have been victims of spiritual abuse. It is possible that my experience in the God business, as well as my continued spiritual growth is appealing to people along with my success in working with people who felt as though they were dealing with issues of spiritual abuse.

spiritual abuse

Based on my experience, one could conclude that there is no one way to define, “spiritual abuse,” as it takes on such a wide spectrum of issues. Without a clear definition, only the individuals can correctly diagnose themselves as suffering from spiritual abuse.

You know if you’ve been a victim of spiritual abuse

You probably have the idea that spiritual abuse comes from religious environments, like churches – though this is the most prevalent source – you might be surprised to find that victims of spiritual abuse come from all walks of life, both religious and non-religious.

Spiritual abuse can come from religious organizations, clergy, parents and other family members, husbands and/or wives, friends, neighbors, employers, counselors, therapists, doctors and coaches, just to name a few…

The implication is that pretty much anyone could be the source the source of spiritual abuse; not to mention the invisible spiritual abuse that comes from deep within (or without) one’s self.

This kind of abuse (like any kind of abuse) can show up in someone’s character in what would be perceived as negative (or abrasive) attributes, though this appears without cognitive effort from the individual who suffered the abuse.

If left buried and untreated, it will spread from an attitudinal presupposition to other areas of life, affecting relationships within one’s inner circle and lead to deterioration of health, leading to the spreading of disease, premature aging and death.

A true zest for life, happiness and joy can be more difficult to grasp while feeling oppressed by spiritual abuse. The happiest and most effective people on the planet have a pleasant balance between the things of this earth and those of the beyond (and this can take an unlimited variety of styles and colors).

There is no right way – and there is no wrong way – for you to find a healthy spiritual expression; and this can have a completely new source that has not remotely connected to the type and style of spiritual expression that may have been the source of the abuse.

I am not saying that people without any spiritual component cannot find happiness; I am just saying that – statistically – those who possess a healthy spiritual perspective (doesn’t have to be religious) are far more successful and happy.

Hidden Abuse

Spiritual abuse is more a taboo subject than sexual abuse because there is far more training focused on sexual abuse in current therapeutic curriculum. It is important to find a counselor or coach who is open-minded,non judgmental and will not further abuse the victim even more.

Treating Spiritual Abuse Can Be Spiritually Abusive

This is where the victim needs to get a grip on their own personal spiritual perspective; and feel free to defend it fervently while moving forward. Everyone will have suggestions, advice and prescriptions to help you discover and treat your underlying spiritual issues.

Only You are Responsible for Your Own Spirituality

Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth a pursuit. Don’t let anyone else tell you what is best for you. Let them listen and give you ideas, then you decide what to do with the information. Stay true to you – and be willing to change – when it serves you and feels good to you.

It’s a Process

Simply know – and resolve to be okay with – the idea that your spiritual journey is a process. There is no time limit, nor is there any limit to the variety of spiritual expression that is available to you.

Decide what is acceptable and good for you each day and be open to allowing other expressions to be revealed to you on your journey. Something that may not resonate with you today, may seem more like a more viable option in the light of a new day, as you continue to heal and grow.