Religious trauma is far more complicated a gnarly beast than you might think on the surface. Of course, the headlines are full of shocking reports of improprieties against the youngsters in devoutly religious families. These young people keep these deep, dark religious secrets until mid-life, after years of struggling with covering up and hiding the truth of the sins of those who they trusted to be God’s representatives.
There is no doubt that this would warp the minds, twist the consciousness, and cause psychological and physical manifestations which are extremely difficult to manage when attempting to integrate with other individuals in the adult world.
The bottling, pushing down, and hiding of it, cause it to rear its ugly head as dysfunction, mental illness, suicidal tendencies, or physical diseases, even cancer.
But there is a far more common type of spiritual abuse which takes place every day, in many (if not most) religious families the world over.
These types of spiritual abuse, or religious abuse, are not dissimilar to other types of abuse, except that they are propagated by religious leaders, their followers, fathers, mothers, and children of religious organizations all “in the name of God.”
Mental abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, all acts of God.
Or, at least, this is how it is represented, or received and/or understood by the victims of said religious or spiritual abuse.
These victims either succumb to the abuse as a necessary rite of passage into spirituality increasing their connection to God as they sacrifice their humanity as a benevolent offering or the abuse haunts and terrorizes them, until they break free from the organization, horrified that God would allow or condone such behavior.
There is no greater crime against humanity than using the highest power to manipulate, torture, or abuse another being, yet these criminals hide behind a protective barrier, which we call, “Freedom of religion.”
These victims, long after their abuse in a “do or die” last-ditch-effort to find a way to survive a life of religious trauma, are speaking out, holding their spiritual abusers accountable, and we read about their courage to do so in the headlines.
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that your victimizer was not God. No matter what he or she claims, God had nothing to do with these crimes against you. I know it feels like God is responsible, but there is no God involvement here, no matter what anyone says.
God is only love; that’s all. Anything that is not love is not God, and the perpetrators of these crimes against you were not representing God at the times when these atrocities were taking place.
And the next thought which occurs to you is, “Where was God?” Or, “How could God let this happen to me?” If your thoughts are left to themselves, following a brief pause, you may conclude, “There is no God.”
No one would blame you. And there are those who would be quick to agree with you.
Know this: God is love. God loves you more than anything, and you are God’s precious creation.
Religion is man’s attempt to reach out to, rationalize, and find God, but God is here, inside of you, all around you. There is not a God out there, hiding, waiting to be found. God is here.
Even when you feel like God is not here, God is here.
Now, it’s up to you, to find a safe place and protect yourself from further abuse, and seek your healing from vicious wounds and scars, both seen and unseen.
If you allow the crimes of this person, or these persons, to separate you from God, then they have exerted their prowess over you, and those who have victimized you, committed atrocities against you, they are the psychotic victors. They’ve won; because there is nothing they would like more than to have enough power over you to separate you from God. And in doing so, they endow themselves with god-like power.
A predatory religious psychopath is excited and finds extreme pleasure in the destruction of others. There is nothing that would please them more than you’re being depressed, miserable, in pain, constant struggle, and abandonment of any idea that there may be a creator or higher energy source that loves you, no matter what.
But, if you can find God on your own, in whatever way makes sense to you, to grow and expand faith and love in any way you can on your own terms, that person, or those persons, who sought to destroy you are rendered powerless, and YOU emerge victorious.
Becoming your highest and best version of yourself, living a better life, your best life, and making the world a better place in spite of all the horrors you have endured exemplifies that God is there, and those who sought to destroy you, failed miserably.
The road to recovery is not without its challenges, and you cannot do it wrong, but you can do this. This is your destiny, your calling. If you can survive this, there are others out there who desperately need to know there is hope for them, and you can help give them hope enough to make it one more day. And that one day can make all the difference.
You are priceless treasure.
See you at the Recovery from Religious Trauma Event in Olympia, September 21st