If you’ve missed any of the guest posts from this series on Shame and Spiritual Abuse, you can catch up here:

Out in the Cold, by Matt Rose

Telling the Truth, by Dorothy Littell Greco

Two Kitchens, by Janna Northrup

Shame and Spiritual Abuse, by an anonymous blogger

Today’s guest blogger, Kathy Jack, is a regular on the blog. She is a clinical therapist and has had a lot of experience working with clients who’ve suffered under spiritual abuse. Here, she offers signs of abusive systems and hope for victims.


Some Signs of a Spiritually Abusive System:

  • Scripture is used as manipulation.
  • There is a hierarchy system with one or two people in control or having all the power.
  • Typically, females are seen as second class and unequal to males.
  • Victims of spiritual abuse feel extreme guilt, and many times are told not to speak up about the abuse because it would “shame” the family or the church. They may be rejected entirely if they speak up. 
  • There is emotional and psychological control and power covering the entire system. 
  • There are only a few feelings/emotions allowed, and only at certain times and in specific ways. 
  • You feel as though you are losing your identity and that if you had a different opinion than your leaders, people would abandon you or shame you.
  • You experience silence from the church if you’ve left or been pushed out. (This silence can feel like the deepest betrayal.)

Spiritual abuse can shatter most of our concepts about God and our identities, and if you have ever experienced that type of abuse, please don’t think you have to “pick up the pieces.” Instead you actually have an entirely new and beautiful masterpiece to create from those pieces– and like a Mosaic, it will be a work of art. You can have a new life free from shame and abuse.
Some Signs of Healing from Spiritual Abuse: 
(Everyone’s healing journey is unique. These are just some of the signs that you are on a path towards hope.)
  • You are able to know and experience God’s love (what it really is, not how the abusive system defined it for you.)
  • You can give love to yourself and to others because you are free to be who God really wants you to be.
  • You are beginning to break the silence about the abuse you experienced or saw.
  • You are no longer controlled by abusers or an abusive system.
  • You are beginning to experience a fullness of life. 
If you think you may be in a spiritually abusive system and would like to experience hope, please reach out to someone outside of the system for help. (You can find me at Alliance Clinical Associates.) 
In facing your abuse and working towards healing from it, you will undoubtedly go through seasons of grief, especially as you learn to form a new identity outside of the abusive system. It will take time and effort. But just as completing that beautiful Mosaic takes time and tender care, you are absolutely worth it.

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