terms: spiritual/religious abuse/trauma

*drags hand down face*

ok, so a lot of what i’m finding with these words is… christians accusing other groups of being cults-not-real-christians (especially because… they are influenced by or acknowledge other religions..?) and therefore “abusing the spirit” by “misleading”

(even one of wikipedia’s criteria: “practice of spiritualism, mysticism, and/or unproven or unorthodox doctrines and theology” — way to be obvious about trying to assail beliefs you disagree with)

and a lot of what else i’m finding is couched in ableist language (“well-meaning christians who lack empathy and are narcissistic and are dissociated[?!]”, “addicts and obsessives”) and also does a weird “they probably didn’t mean to” thing that…feels icky around abuse even though i Get it and it’s nice to see acknowledged that it isn’t always intentional? (“probably” seems to be the issue i think)

annnnd everything is written by cishet white (mostly dude) christians.

and so much of it is about an abusive church rather than individuals or family — about a church that controls its christian members, rather than about christians gaslighting/abusing others or, gasp, non-christians.

(it’s just, remarkably striking, how everything is about supporting your spiritually abused fellow christians. never ever ever about supporting spiritually abused people who are not christian now. and of course, it’s also about how you shouldn’t give up on god, don’t let a little thing like abuse get in the way. except it’s so stridently about that, so pushily assuming that of course you’ll end up christian…like, uh?? creepy echoes??)

(and of course, it is all entirely about christianity.)

but. but.

i want this to be useful. i want to find the gems that actually discuss trauma done by spiritual/religious sources — which, sure, can include trauma to one’s spirituality (or “spirit” i guess), but Also should include other trauma to other areas — i don’t like this definition of “x trauma means trauma to x” and trying to decide where trauma is wholly situated.  symptoms are more complicated than that.  i like the definition of “x trauma means trauma from x”

i don’t want to give up on these words as too nebulous and horribly misused 😦  i just found them (thanks uu smal group)!  there’s gotta be something here!

(i especially want stuff on separating/processing spiritual abuse vs religious/scrupulous ocd. where does spiritual trauma come from. how do you separate out your parents’ actions from their church. how do you deal with “well i have PTSD symptoms…now, what from….” etcetc)

although… even thinking about “ok how do we keep from bashing christianity/religion as inherently abusive/brainwashing… while validating experiences of abuse… and also avoid saying True christianity can’t be/isn’t abusive……arghhh” is. my brain hurts


i mean, i would go back to just, “alright let me describe my experience and try to pinpoint more ways it’s messed me up” but. it’s all so big, too big for one map. and i’m sick of drawing it anew without references or placenames.

(and yknow. ending up shaking after replaying we know the devil for the third time, and being told my immersion in literally-no-contact-outside-the-church until age 12 was “worse” than someone who identified as spiritually abused, and trying to parse this damn ocd book with its good pieces on scrupulosity but alienating language and trying rephrase it to be about past-day religious ocd morphing into present-day moral sj scrupulosity….

..like. the trauma feels are swinging around to yelling about this arena.  so where is the more-or-less safe reading that acknowledges the complicatedness?)

((arghhhh, sexual abuse resources about getting “back” to your healthy healthy sex, spiritual abuse resources about getting “back” to your healthy healthy christianity.  because those are the things that matter.))

it’s also..funny-scary to notice how much stuff about “churches” rings true about sj communities….so at least this is useful, even if it’s impossible for me to sort out what-was-my-parents-what-was-their-church-i-was-a-kid.  this book is pretty okay, and this site,

words!!! concepts! snarled tangles of brain!  keyterms to search for possibly-not-completely-awful resources.  processing. bluhhhh.


One thought on “terms: spiritual/religious abuse/trauma

  1. “well-meaning christians who lack empathy and are narcissistic and are dissociated[?!]”

    I started laughing at this because I’m a Christian who disassociates a lot.

    “it’s also..funny-scary to notice how much stuff about “churches” rings true about sj communities….”

    *slams hand down on the table* Yes. I’ve been thinking this.

    I even had a post idea I was batting around, not so much as criticism but as positive-didactic “if you’re going to function like a church might as well take a lesson from them,” but it’s hard to think of a way to write it that doesn’t come off as patronizing/evangelist/Christian apologist (which… are things I am anyway, but, you know. audience.).

    Anyway… spiritual abuse sounds like a good term, but if those are the results you’re getting… have you tried keywords like “Christian/parental homophobia”? Not the same thing, yeah, but I expect there’d be enough overlap to help with mapping, possibly.

    Also, since you mentioned separating out/figuring out what to attribute to your parents vs. their church… I don’t know if this helps to hear, but that sounds like the lingering questions I have about then-mutual friends with the Ex-Friend. They didn’t play a direct role in the excruciating junk but they were there in the background and… I’ll never know how much was ignorance and how much was apathy. They weren’t involved but at the same time, they were? They facilitated it, knowingly or not. They never asked me what happened when I and Ex suddenly stopped talking to each other. I have no idea what he told them about me or what they must have thought. And when I think about that whole mess, it’s too tricky to allocate blame or even think of him as “my abuser,” even now, because of “intent” and all my own missteps and all the understandable misunderstandings. It trips me up too much. What I’ve found easier is to just focus on… this is what happened, this is how it affected me, no matter how much fault I find or don’t find with who.

    And I think there could be parallels, maybe? I don’t want to make assumptions here about what your experience is/was. My thought is just that, if you don’t know who/which was at fault and how to divide that up, maybe you don’t have to. Or: it’s okay not to. Because maybe they influenced each other both and there’s no tool to neatly divide that. You don’t need to designate a Main Villain in order to tell yourself your own narrative, even if, I recognize, it would help if you could.

    I hope some of that made sense or something.

    Anyway, take care ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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