Spiritual abuse and religious abuse come in a variety of types, but all of them have one thing in common: they can all lead to PTSD, severe trauma, and devastating anxiety. If you have been subjected to physical, psychological or emotional abuse at the hand of a church leader, family member, or partner in the name of religion or a religious ideology, and you are experiencing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, then you may be an ideal fit for a trauma center that specializes in spiritual abuse and religious abuse therapy for a number of conditions that can be diagnosed from undergoing this specific type of abuse.

What is Spiritual Abuse and Religious Abuse?

Spiritual abuse, also commonly referred to as religious abuse, is a form of abuse that is rarely talked about, but that happens at an alarmingly high rate. To further complicate this type of abuse, there are multiple forms of it. Most examples can be seen in spiritual leaders that inflict abuse on congregation members by creating a toxic culture within the church by publicly shaming individual members while using their position to control them. Religious abuse is not restricted to a single denomination or a certain religion. Any individual, with any type of belief system, is capable of inflicting spiritual abuse on anyone, and any person can be a victim regardless of age or gender.

Some common types of religious abuse include the following:

Religious Abuse from Family and Partner

Ridiculing One’s Religious Beliefs – This is usually seen within family circles or between partners; one person in the family will make the victim an outcast and state the reason being a difference of religious beliefs. In cases where a person is blamed by their relatives for being the root cause of all their problems, the victim could suffer from family scapegoat PTSD, and if the context of spiritual beliefs is at the center of this abuse, then the individual is likely experiencing multiple forms of trauma.

Prevents the Practicing of Religious Beliefs – When a partner or family members prevents a person from practicing their religious beliefs.

Forcing Faith on Children – When one parent forces their religious beliefs on the children, and these beliefs are problematic for the other spouse in terms of being content or comfortable with their children being forced in acts of worship.

Using Religious Texts to Justify Abuse – When a spouse or family member uses religious doctrine to justify acts of violence and abusive behaviors such as physical assault, financial abuse, sexual abuse / marital rape, and emotional trauma.

Forcing One to Abandon their Faith for Another – When a spouse or family member manipulates a target and forces them to abandon their faith for another via acts of manipulation.

Brainwashing – When a spouse or family member manipulates their target until they believe the elements of the other person’s religion only to gain clarity and feel trapped. Most cases start at childhood and become revealed as an adult.

Financial Abuse – When a spouse takes control of finances and uses funds to support a church or religious agenda while sacrificing on essential needs like the ability to pay bills or buy food.

Religious Abuse from a Church Leader

Gaslighting – When church leaders use religion to make victims question reality and they develop false and toxic self-awareness in context of their religious beliefs.

Underage Sexual Abuse – When a church leader takes advantage of their position to engage in a sexual act with a child. Most people who have developed anxiety from being sexually exploited in a church setting address the trauma and seek therapy as an adult.

Sexual Abuse – When a church leader uses his authority and puts a member of the congregation in a position where they are pressured to engage in a sexual act or risk being outcast or manipulated spiritually to give in to the act.

Financial Abuse – When church leaders spiritually manipulate members of the congregation to tithe or pay the church money at the expense of the person’s ability to be financially stable.

Spiritual abuse can be just as harmful and destructive as any other kind of abuse. However, it can be difficult to identify, and usually it coincides with other types of anxiety. Serenity Trauma has often diagnosed religious abuse along with multiple anxiety disorders, and multiple types of trauma can easily spring form this type of abuse.  Various forms of PTSD are commonly associated with religious abuse, so if you think you could be suffering from spiritual abuse, contact Serenity Trauma for a consultation and evaluation today.

Praying hands on an open bible

What are the Signs of Spiritual Abuse?

Religion and spirituality should be a source of peace, community, comfort, and provide guidelines for how to live your life as a good person. Unfortunately, some people abuse it and use religion to gain power over others. If your intimate partner or church leaders are using scripture to control elements of your life, you could very well be a victim of spiritual abuse. If religious doctrine is used to control the following thing in your life, you should certainly seek help without delay:

  • Behavior
  • Decision making
  • Political views
  • Sexuality
  • Finances
  • Parenting style
  • Clothing choices
  • Hair and makeup
  • Choice to have children (or not)
  • Finances
  • Career
  • Hobbies

If any of the above points are being presented to you within the context of making extreme changes based on one individual’s interpretation of religious scripture (whether it is your minister or romantic partner), you are being subjected to religious abuse and should seek help from distancing yourself from such toxic behavior.

Dealing with Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is something people need to deal with whether it is currently happening in life, or if it happened in the past. If you feel that you are experiencing spiritual abuse from a religious organization or from an intimate partner via the egress of violence, you need to get immediate help so you can feel safe (and be safe).

If religious abuse is currently happening – If you are currently undergoing spiritual abuse call the National Domestic Violence Hotline number (1-800-799-SAFE) or utilize the chat feature on their website. You can also reach out to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and you should confide in a trusted friend or family member. If you need to move out or leave your community to escape spiritual abuse but don’t know anyone who can put you up, most communities have shelters you can turn to along with help.

If you are suffering from spiritual abuse that happened in the past – If you were subjected to spiritual abuse and are experiencing symptoms of PTSD or anxiety, then you need to reach out to a trauma center for a consultation. Serenity Trauma is a leading expert in treating people with multiple forms of PTSD and other anxiety disorders that are brought on by religious and spiritual abuse.

Call Serenity Trauma for Religious Abuse Therapy

Spiritual abuse can have life-long lasting effects that surface as signs of trauma and anxiety. If you were subjected to spiritual abuse, then you should speak with one of our therapists to see if you would be a good fit for religious abuse therapy. There are several therapeutic approaches we take to offering a type of religious abuse therapy that’s customized to each individual person. Contact us today and begin living a life of joy and meaning free from the fetters of anxiety.