The overarching reason for speaking at the For Such A Time As This Rally was to address the often secondary abuse of spiritual abuse that survivors endure from untrained and under prepared church staff and friends when an allegation of victimization is shared; be it racial, physical, sexual, verbal, financial, spiritual, withholding, or emotional abuse
Spiritual abuse is also often the secondary abuse a survivor receives from an angry and controlling spouse in an attempt to keep power over them in the relationship.
Allow me to be clear; secondary does not mean lesser trauma. Often the secondary is more maddening than the original.
Somehow we neglected to address this on our resource sheet we handed out at the rally, and I too left it out of my talk.
I appreciate a reader who brought this to my attention. All eight of us involved with the rally were passionate about this topic because of the spiritual abuse involved in headline news and in the lives of people we minister to. Spiritual abuse can be part of domestic abuse and church abuse.
17 WARNING SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE
1) Manipulation and control are always at the root for achieving power over an individual.
2) Scriptures on forgiveness are used to distort and to keep someone from setting healthy boundaries with a toxic person.
3) The use of religious guilt to keep a person in a toxic relationship when the offending person shows no true attempt in changing their behavior.
4) Wives are religiously shamed for not praying enough for their toxic husbands, but the men are held to a lower standard.
5) Innocent people are held to an unreasonable religious standard of personal responsibility for being in and fixing a toxic relationship.
6) Church leaders refuse to recognize relational abuse in all its forms and further the abuse by falsely blaming and shaming the victim.
7) A toxic person refuses to apologize and instead of understanding your distress, wants to say a prayer over you so you’ll find healing.
8) A toxic person uses specific scriptures out of context to keep power and control over you. Angry and controlling people who read the Bible are very articulate at doing this. It does not make them more spiritual than you; it usually means there is faulty reasoning/wiring in their inner being.
9) A person may invoke divine authority in order to manipulate people into desired behaviors which meet the needs of the abuser.
10) A person insists you have to perform, do certain works, in your relationship with them so you can stay in God’s grace. This is anti-biblical.
11) Sexual affairs or sexual abuse by a priest, pastor or trusted leaders, is a form of spiritual abuse in addition to sexual abuse.
12) A parent who picks fights and unnecessarily frustrates their children while quoting scripture or praying for the children. This can damage a child’s emerging spirituality. This adds spiritual abuse to emotional abuse.
13) A parent who sexually abuses their child while telling the child how it ties into scripture, or writes letters with scriptures, or conveys that the other parent is aware and scripturally in agreement with the abuse. This adds spiritual abuse to sexual abuse.
14) A leader or group who depicts their unique dynamics and explains why others can’t appreciate or understand them. This eliminates internal or external accountability or help.
15) Abusive groups foster a rigid belief system; one way – their way is the only correct way in behavior and in beliefs.
16) Can take on acts of discipline; emotional and physical humiliation, physical violence or deprivation, acute and intense acts of punishment for going against, or disagreeing with the leader or group.
17) There is often underlying deception for self-preservation or protection of an establishment.
*Added 7/10/2018 – I don’t know how I forgot this one. Financial abuse: guilting your family into giving/tithing money you don’t have to a church, mission, or organization; while making them go without. You should be able to live as people in your socio-economic class live. Or, not allowing you to be a co-decision maker in ‘faith/church’ financial decisions. This adds spiritual abuse to emotional abuse.
- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NET)
- “So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” Acts 15:10 (NET)
- “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NET)
- Matthew 23 – The 7 woes
- “They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.” Matthew 23:4 (NET)
- “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel! Matthew 23:23-24 (NET)
- “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12 (NET)
- “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NET)