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******* Religious triggers ********

I have not really talked about spiritual abuse on this blog. However, after reading Blue Orchid’s comment on this blog entry, I realized that there are probably many more of us out there who suffered from spiritual or religious abuse, so we need to talk about this topic.

What exactly is spiritual or religious abuse? To put it colloquially, it is a religious mind-f@#$. An abuser tells a child all sorts of disturbing things about God that traumatizes the child. Blue Orchid’s comment provides some examples. Even worse, an abuser might use religious figures as part of other types of abuse, such as dressing up like Jesus and then raping a child. The end result is that the child’s view of religion becomes distorted, causing a barrier to using faith to help the spiritual abuse survivor heal from the abuse.

My mother abused me in many ways spiritually. For example, she locked my sister and me in her bedroom and “laid her hands” on us to “fill us with the Holy Spirit.” She would know that we “received the Spirit” when we began talking in tongues. My younger sister figured out quickly how to get around this and started babbling and smiling. She was released from the room. I was locked in the room for hours, sobbing because I saw this as evidence that even God had rejected me. I was only 9.

My mother refused to take me to a doctor and nurture me in any way when I was sick. One time, my aunt brought me home early from a sleepover at her house because I had an “out of both ends” virus. My mother refused to take care of me in any way and instead said, “She is not sick,” because she was calling things that “be not as though they were.” As long as she said I was not sick, I would be miraculously healed. My aunt was aghast and told my mother to come take a look at the fluids all over her car. Meanwhile, I took care of myself. I was only around 9 or 10.

My father (the “good” parent) was an atheist, so my mother/abuser was the one who took me to church. I believed that I would burn in hell if I did not believe in her version of God. Whenever I could not find my mother, I panicked that she had been “raptured” and that I was not good enough to be “raptured” myself. I believed that my mother’s auditory voices of God (she is schizophrenic) were evidence of her closeness with Him and knowledge of Him while I was not good enough to be close with God.

I was sixteen when my father died and my mother started sexually abusing me again. I walked away from religion at this point in my life. I wanted nothing to do with my mother’s version of God. It took me over a decade to discover who God really is. Before I could embrace a faith of my own, I had to recognize that my mother spiritually abused me and that all of the nonsense that she told me about God was a load of crap. This process took a long time.

If you suffered from spiritual or religious abuse, you are not alone. It is actually much more common than you might realize.

Related Topic:

Blue Orchid’s Blog

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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