Information About Spiritual Abuse

Information About Spiritual Abuse September 17, 2016

WhenChurchHurtsby Ellen cross posted from her blog When Church Hurts

This page is dedicated to helping the reader understand how to recognize spiritual abuse.


Often, books, websites, and other information regarding spiritual abuse focus on cult situations or blatantly abusive issues such as sexual abuse in the church.  But, the well-kept secret is that spiritual abuse is much more pervasive than that.  Perhaps the best definition of spiritual abuse is found in the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen: “The individual is left bearing a weight of guilt, judgment or condemnation, and confusion about their worth and standing as a Christian.”

A simple Google search for “spiritual abuse” will result in many websites and blogs that offer in-depth definitions and explanations of spiritual abuse, and sometimes that can make it difficult to recognize in your particular situation.  It’s important to remember that ultimately, it comes down to your worth and standing as a Christian.  Were you in a situation or relationship with spiritual authority that caused you to question your value?  Were you told (verbally or in subtle ways like being ignored or avoided) that you were not wanted, needed, worthy, etc?  Were you disposable?  Was your Christianity questioned?  “We’re not even sure you are truly a Christian!” is a judgment that can be communicated in many ways.  And often, the process is manipulated in ways that make it look like the leadership is trying to do everything they can to resolve the situation but it keeps spiraling downward.  That’s the confusing part that many people experience.

If you took the survey at the link above, many of the defining factors of spiritual abuse are there.  If you take the opportunity to read my story, you will see how subtle spiritual abuse can be.

Please know that you don’t have to be alone.  You can reach out and find loving arms reaching back to you.  People who understand what you are going through because they have been there.  People who want to remind you how loved you are by God.

moreRead more by Ellen:

In The Midst Of It?


Ellen is a member of the SASBN and she blogs at When Church Hurts

More about Ellen:

Several years ago I was the victim of a most heinous form of abuse unlike anything I had ever thought possible. Not having been raised in a Christian home, my first experience with Christians and pastors had been one of joy, grace, fellowship, love, and delight. When faced with the horrors of having the very essence of who I was as a woman of faith stripped from me in what I can only describe as spiritual rape, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. This was church, after all, and I believed that everything works together for good for those who love God. Somehow, it didn’t make sense that everything was not working together for good. When I was finally able to resign myself to the fact that God was not going to “work this out,” I made my escape and sought a safe haven. 
Little did I realize that I was going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Oh, how I tried to beat back the flames! Oh, how I prayed and pleaded for mercy, for grace, for a chance. “But hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will toward” Ellen. 
He who began a good work . . . had forsaken me . . . and the silence was more than deafening . . . it was defeating. So intertwined were we, that as God went missing, so did Ellen. But I am nothing, if not tenacious.

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