by 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.
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