Domestic Violence Day 7: Spiritual Abuse

spiritual abuse

Today we will continue our series of the various abuses for October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Today’s topic is probably one that even fewer people want to talk about… Spiritual Abuse. This abuse includes such a wide range of abuses and is so hidden that many people do not pick up on it. Yes, there have been terrible incidences that have made headlines, but the vast majority occur everyday.
Now, again, for simplicity, I will mostly use Wikipedia, which gives basic information, to help me explain this… I am not here to point fingers or accuse anyone or any specific “religion.” We all need to be aware that this occurs under a spirit of control and manipulation. Here goes…

Spiritual Abuse or “Religious abuse refers to any abuse that occurs under the disguise of religion. It can include psychological trauma, harassment or humiliation and also includes misuse of religion for selfish or secular reasons such as abuse of a clerical position to perpetrate abuse.”

Spiritual abuse includes:
“Psychological or emotional abuse with the plan to dominate and control the victim.
Physical abuse includes physical injury and deprivation.
Sexual abuse includes any action or words that demean and humiliate victims of a sexual nature.
Submission to spiritual authority without any right to disagree or make their own spiritual decisions.
False accusation or repeated criticism by labeling a person as disobedient or enemy of church.
Actions preventing or interfering with a person’s practice of faith including isolation like cults.
Dismissal of outsider’s criticism on the basis that the opinions and criticism of the critic is invalid.
Withholding information and giving information only to a selected few with hidden agendas.
Conformity to an unproven, or unnatural, and often dangerous cult-religious view or practice.
Practice of spiritualism, mysticism, and/or unproven doctrines and theology.
Hostility that includes shunning, relational aggression, parental alienation or persecution.
Exaltation of the primary leader(s) to a God-like status in and over the group.
Financial exploitation with required financial support to the group often including a personal financial lifestyle of the leadership that far exceeds the median lifestyle of the group.”

As you can see, there are many things that fall under the topic of spiritual abuse. Many cases involving the sexual exploitation of children are still coming out into the open. Many things are still hidden…

I pray that everything done in darkness will be revealed and brought to the Light. We all have to answer for what we do in this world and God knows every person’s heart and their own intentions. The Bible even talks about this level of accountability in James 3:1..

“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1 NLT

Spiritual abuse is real and has hurt many people in the name of “church.” We all need to be aware that this spirit of control and manipulation is active, both in and out of the church. Beware of the “fruits” that those in any position of authority produce…

I write this blog to be educational and inspirational, trying to help other victims of abuse to know that they are not alone and that they are not crazy like I and many others have been made to feel… I have also been spiritually abused so I know this one too. I do not represent a church. I do not represent a religion. What I represent is a personal relationship… and I share my own personal relationship with my Rescuer with those who want to follow. It is my own experiences that I write about… and any of you are free to “take it or leave it.”

References and other readings:

23 thoughts on “Domestic Violence Day 7: Spiritual Abuse

  1. This post ought to be ‘Liked’ by many more readers! These abuses ought to be exposed without fear. But we also need to let the hurt know there is balm in Gilead…

    • Amen… I join you in prayer that the Balm of Gilead will spread across the land to cover the wounds of the multitudes and turn hearts to our Healer… Bless you my friend!!!

  2. I feel spiritual abuse has been a hidden part of elements of the holistic therapy world, and light is now shining into those corners. I am writing of my journey with a man who had a heart of pure gold, but who had built himself up outwardly on feeling he was especially chosen for a spiritual path….he would often call me ignorant if I tried to voice an opinion or question his verbally abusive practices. Others who crossed his path and did not measure up were labelled stupid. Some of the women he associated with, also part of this element of the holistic world wold label people spiritual sixth formers, and I myself was labelled a drama queen for questioning how their practices were forming. I would like to see the holistic therapy world become integrated with mainstream, but I feel these elements keep it in separation, but I do feel this is now being addressed naturally by things being exposed in order that it can upgrade and change. I left the man because he had not made the inner decision to shine light on his inner demons and free his heart to love fully, and as soon as one pattern was broken he would choose to replace it with another abusive practice. When I left he sent boastful e-mails of his new conquests, but I could feel compassion for the continued need to build himself up by trying to knock me down.

    I feel it is a quite hidden form of abuse, and not limited to him and some of his followers, as I came across it years ago when I was training in holistic therapies. In some ways I could see the double edged sword…broken and damaged people attracted and drawn to their own healing, but then completely immersing themselves in the holistic world, to the exclusion of too many other things, and developing a belief they were especially chosen, and developing mantras such as I have had the most highly esteemed spiritual teachers….almost as though feeling they would be less worthy if they had something lesser….finishing the sentence, with I have had the best teacher for me, could have kept building ego in the wrong way, out of the way.

    • You are right in that this is a very hidden form of abuse, It happens on many different levels from the newest “baby” Christians to the power-house Christians with many followers. I can tell you that God had to reveal to me that I was spiritually abused and it was actually quite simple… As we are truly seeking God and something is said or done “in the name of Christianity” that makes you very uneasy, very uncomfortable, or tears you down emotionally or spiritually, then it probably is not of God. Christ is the Prince of Peace… not turmoil. The turmoil comes from the enemy, and Satan will use anyone that he can to hurt someone. I learned to follow “The Peace”…Let the Peace be your guide.
      Also, the words of John the Baptist comes to me that he had to decrease so that He could increase. Christ should always be First so beware of those who talk about how great they are…
      Remember, that God will guide us all as we prayerfully seek His will for every step in our lives. Blessings to you Robyn!!!

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  4. Thank you for bringing awareness to this horrible abuse. I spent about five years in a cult-like church that left me scarred. It caused me to stay away from Christianity for about ten years. I thank God for helping me to come back.

    • I thank God for guiding you back also. The enemy will use anyone that he can to deceive people. That is one reason why it is so important to have the discernment of the Holy Spirit. There are many that are deceived today and the spirit of the anti-Christ is working overtime these days. I praise God for helping you! Many blessings to you!

    • I thank God for guiding you back also. The enemy will use anyone that he can to deceive people. That is one reason why it is so important to have the discernment of the Holy Spirit. There are many that are deceived today and the spirit of the anti-Christ is working overtime these days. I praise God for helping you! Many blessings to you!

  5. Great post. Thanks for highlighting this.

    If I may, I would like to highlight a few more characteristics:

    – A leader surrounding himself (or herself) with sycophants (‘yes men’), or people very young and naiive in the faith whilst marginalising wiser, more mature people.
    – Rebuking people directly or indirectly from the pulpit, but not approaching them personally, one to one, then with 2 or 3 witnessing (see Matthew 18).
    – Threatening to rebuke a person publicly if he or she doesn’t do what is wanted without going through the correct procedure in Matthew 18.
    – When a courageous person challenges the senior leader and will not be silenced, verbally attacking his wife or one of his children instead.
    – Overworking willing, faithful voluntary workers in ministries for large numbers of hours per week whilst they have home responsibilities that are neglected.
    – Bypassing due process when making decisions. Lack of minuted meetings, unilateral decisions without consultation or full discussion, neglecting to meet other leaders.

    We’ve been there! I am a tough cookie and can deal with bullying personalities, but my wife isn’t. She was once targeted by a bullying pastor (as a way of getting at me, because I stood up to him)( and it took her 6 months to get over it. She had to receive prayer and ministry from another leader.

    • Thank you .. You are so right. There are probably even more. I pray that people will realize that this happens and be aware… We need to follow Christ, not man… Thanks for the comments.. Blessings to you and your family!!

  6. Thank you all of you for sharing your experiences and Secret Angel for the empowering words of wisdom. The above post has really helped me see from yet another angle what happened when I challenged how a dance class was using a healing space to malign another dance teacher and label an egotist and was then myself labelled a drama queen, but not to my face…I also am a tough cookie and that threatened more….but when we feel our sovereignty there is no longer a need to feel threatened by others and we can remain within our inner peace….but I am glad this more hidden form of abuse of power is being exposed because unless we find the courage to question and challenge peacefully awareness cannot be raised…thank you to everyone for sharing personal experiences…in some ways abuse in the church and in spiritual, cultish circles (the one I left), has been almost a taboo subject. To challenge spiritual bullying is difficult because there is a tendency for followers to get into a peaceful person would say nothing….to which I would say, get real! It would be the equivalent of letting slavery and apartheid continue without question….the young woman shot in the head by the Taliban has been so inspirational with her serenity, grace, and presence, as she continues to speak from her heart and refuse to die down.

  7. I am a survivor of various forms of abuse, including spiritual abuse. It left my soul with deep scars. The things mentioned here in your blog and comments have sadly been a big part of my life. I am free from that abuse. But, because my family still attends a similar type of religious organization, I deal with feelings of inadequacy constantly.

    Thank you for sharing! God bless you!


    • Hi Doris.. Good to hear from you again! I totally understand what you are saying. I have also dealt with that at various times in my life. The worst also left me feeling very inadequate and an “emotional wreck” because I was not good enough. In fact, God had to step in and tell me that I was being deceived by this person. I have experienced it at different levels. But the main thing that I have since learned that it is not about religion at all… it about relationship. Many sit on pews on Sunday and proclaim to be “Christian” then miss the boat the rest of the week. It is all about a RELATIONSHIP… When you know that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior, then that is all that matters. Many blessings to you my friend…

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