Spiritual abuse can occur any time religious doctrine or beliefs are used to defend the mistreatment of someone or to cause guilt or shame to be felt for not living up to the standards of a religions ideal.
One way in which spiritual abuse can occur is in the case of abusive relationships. These connections can be romantic, parental or sibling relationships. When religious doctrine is based on forgiveness the model of forgiveness can be twisted and used to excuse poor treatment of others. Onlookers may admit that the actions of an individual are not loving yet the burden of forgiveness is placed on the shoulders of the person who is being mistreated.
A second form of spiritual abuse is the practice of using religious doctrine to dictate what is “right or wrong” or “natural or unnatural”. This could be making a woman who is childless by choice feel like a freak or people in the LGBT community feel like their self-concept or expression of love and desire is unnatural. The statistics for suicide rates among young people who are gay or transgendered are heartbreaking. Society can be cruel and callous towards people who identify as LBGT, but when spiritual abuse is involved it can be even more insidious.
Spiritual abuse is so destructive because it can play as a recording of self-talk about what is right and wrong. When people feel they are not right in the eyes of a spiritual deity they don’t need others too emotionally and verbally abuse them – they do it to themselves. They place pressure on themselves to be someone they are not or be better or perfect. If it doesn’t work then they feel a sense of guilt and failure.
Spiritual abuse effects people in abusive situations but it also effects the healing process when a survivor escapes the situation. We are made up of mind, body and spirit. All must be cared for to be healthy. When healing from any form of trauma all three aspects of the self must be addressed for true healing to take place. Those who have experienced spiritual abuse may avoid addressing their spiritual healing.
The spiritual journey never ends. Spiritual abuse can feel like being stranded by the side of the road for the rest of this lifetime. I feel as if the world is full of souls who are stranded on the side of the spiritual path because of spiritual abuse and it is negatively effecting the world today. I send out light and love to all who are in this situation and intend that someday you will step back onto the path and find your way to joy.