This is the first question every spiritual abuse survivor should consider before writing about your personal story online.
Most of us go back and forth, weighing the benefits and potential risks, before making the decision either to use our real names or write anonymously. Here’s a list of considerations which will help you determine the best choice for you:
Real Name Pros:
Greatly increases the credibility of your story.
No worries about being “outed.”
You will be able to do TV interviews, YouTube videos, accept speaking invitations, etc.
Much less confusing!
No need for an additional “anonymous” email address or Facebook page.
Allows you to personally confront your abusers – “look them in the eye” (so to speak) and air your grievances.
It can be personally gratifying to see your name associated with a movement that is pushing back against the beliefs/teachings/leaders who tyrannized you and your loved ones in the name of God.
Real Name Cons:
Your sharing of personal experiences of spiritual abuse could be hurtful to those who know you and are still in the abusive church group.
Your desire to protect friends and family members could limit your ability to share important details of the abuse that you experienced.
There could be legal ramifications if you are involved in a custody dispute.
Current or prospective employers might Google your name and discover more personal information about you than you would like them to know.
If you mention any mental health issues which you have dealt with, or are currently experiencing (PTSD, anyone?), due to your involvement in a spiritually abusive relationship, this information might be used against you in legal or employment situations which you may not have anticipated when you began sharing your story.
If you later decide that using your real name is too troublesome or risky, you will not be able to switch to a pseudonym without deleting your blog and starting over.
Risk of attracting a stalker – it is too easy for obsessive Internet users to Google your real name to find out exactly where you (and your family) live.
Risk of repercussions from the guilty abusers whom you expose.
You may find your name on a “prayer list” for a group of religious fundamentalists who are praying that you get an incurable form of breast cancer. Yes! – this actually happened to me, and even though it should be no big deal and maybe even funny – I was triggered and rather freaked out at the thought of this group praying for me.
Allows you to protect the identities of your loved ones and friends.
Less risk to your personal safety and that of your family.
You can reveal your real name when you feel comfortable “exposing” yourself on your blog – no need to start a new blog and risk losing readers.
It is often easier to write about embarrassing, humiliating, painful experiences when readers do not know who you are.
Less pressure to tell your story “perfectly” in anticipation of your story being read by people who actually know you and were involved in your spiritual abuse experience and are eager to pick apart your story piece by piece in order to discredit you.
Your story will be less credible and your potential to influence is limited.
Living with fear and dread of being “outed.”
You will not be able to accept interviews for television or speaking engagements.
You’ll need to be extra careful to always avoid identifying details in order to maintain your anonymity.
You are more likely to be targeted by annoying Internet trolls who make it their business to ‘verify’ your story by figuring out who you really are.
There is no right or wrong answer. Obviously there are trade-offs to either option. Only you can decide what is best in your particular situation. One of the nice things about being free of spiritual oppression is we get to make choices for ourselves – and if we should choose something which turns out to be less than ideal – it’s not life or death – we make adjustments and we deal with it. We can relax – knowing that whatever we decide – God probably doesn’t care, and if even if He does, nobody’s eternal soul is in danger should we make an unwise decision.
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce