Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Does One Overcome Spiritual Abuse

Surviving Spiritual Abuse

What happens to individuals who have been psychologically abused and morally betrayed by fundamentalist cultic religious groups? How can they recover from the damage done? Physically leaving such a group is relatively easy, but the emotional and psychological departure can take months or even years. This is why many people do not understand how any person can stay within a situation of religious abuse - much the same way that people fail to see how battered women stay with their abusers.
Such dysfunctional and destructive groups often use manipulation, fear, and deception to maintain a hold on members. They also shower their prey with unbelievable amounts of affection and approval for staying in the group and meeting their expectations ("love-bombing"). Groups also control and distort information from the outside. Thus it becomes a sin to read any "worldly" publications or "spiritual pornography." The group makes an extremely sharp distinction between right and wrong, good and evil; everything in the group is positive (godly), everything outside is negative (satanic). Ambiguity, doubts, and serious questions are not tolerated. The authority of the group's leadership is virtually absolute. All problems are oversimplified and deflected either away from the group or back towards the individual
(This is a methodology that I have come to call conflict isolation).
It is no wonder, therefore, that the religiously abused frequently suffer from emotional and psychological problems. I believe that it is high time that our society recognizes and deals with religious abuse as a social-psychological disorder in itself.
Generally, a person who breaks involvement with a dysfunctional group will encounter the following problems:

* Depression - the product of group-induced self-doubt and self-blame.

* Isolation and loneliness - the shock of crossing the barrier from one
social environment to another.

* Impairment of decision-making and other intellectual skills.

* Floating - occasional lapses into the group's imposed mindset, often
triggered by certain stimuli (music, symbols, key words or phrases, etc.).

* Difficulty in talking about group involvement - often related to strong
feelings of guilt, fear, and bitterness.

* Interpersonal difficulties - communication, expression, making new
friends, organized activities, dating, emotional and physical intimacy,
etc. Recent walk always are frequently mistrustful and suspicious of other people and groups.

So, how does one recover? How does a person heal the wounds of religious abuse? Hopefully, within a caring and understanding new social setting. This can be a family, a support or therapy group, or an organized community such as a mainstream church, religious group, or humanist society. It should also be done with patience and the consideration that recovery will take time and effort. The following are some ideas for persons who have walked away from religious abuse and who are on the road to reclaiming their lives.

* Work towards trusting yourself and relying on your own abilities.

* Put your experience down in writing. This will help you to evaluate,
understand, and cope with your past involvement in the abusive group.

* Get in touch with other people who have gone through similar experiences,
either one-on-one or in a support group.

* Find a hobby or pastime to reinforce a positive sense of accomplishment.

* Handle decisions, tasks, and relearning of interpersonal skills one setp
at a time. Don't rush yourself, talk and think things over, and don't be
afraid if you make mistakes - we all do!

* Be more willing to help people as you go along. This builds up
Self-esteem and exercises your problem-solving skills.

* Take a breather from organized religion for about three to nine months, at least. Deal with your questions about religion, ethics, and philosophy in an honest and challenging manner.

Remember, you are no longer a victim but a survivor!


Salvation by grace is one the enemies’ main doctrine he attacks. Why? It infuriates Satan that man; a creature of dust can receive not only redemption but also an inheritance from the Lord. We don’t deserve eternal life in glory, but because of GRACE! Oh I love the sound of that word…GRACE! It almost brings tears to my eyes when I hear it because I know how wretched I am. I know how capable I am to commit some of the most evil of sins, yet God extended to me His grace. The enemy for preaching the gospel will attack you. But don’t be afraid; be encouraged in the Word of God:

Preach the uncompromised Gospel and don’t look for promotion from MAN! False ministers are really practicing witchcraft in Jesus name, and Jesus will hold them accountable one day!

17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. (Isa. 54)

18 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun? When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isa. 59)

Man or woman of God DO NOT fear to preach the truth, God will sustain you and protect you, don’t compromise or allow yourself to be bought. It is better to be poor and have integrity than be rich from preaching lies and leading people astray. If you are the victim of witchcraft in a church LEAVE immediately and find a fellowship that teaches THE BIBLE! You may not feel comfortable in a church anymore after being under witchcraft, but you NEED Christian fellowship and training so seek out believers in Jesus Christ and form Bible fellowships and prayer groups, remember YOU are the church NOT some building built by man’s hands.

About The Author
Elder Mark H. Stevens was a MSgt in the USAF. He spent 23 years in Combat Operations. He spent over a month in Mogadishu Somalia where he faced death and saw death in a life changing way. Mark Stevens was also stationed at Dover AFB, De., when the near thousand bodies came in from Guyana after the Jim Jones massacre. He received a Commendation Medal for helping move hundreds of bodies. He served in Desert Storm in Diyarbiker Turkey for 5 months and served as interim Chaplain at a location where there was no military Chaplain assigned.
Mark Stevens is an ordained Minister in the Church of God in Christ. He has a BA in Theology and an MA in Ministry from Freedom Bible College and Seminary. He also graduated from Philadelphia Biblical Universities Institute of Jewish Studies; he also is an ETA certified teacher. He is the Dean of the Charles Harrison Mason Bible Institutes of NJ. He has completed 2 units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Cooper University Hospital in Camden NJ.
Elder Stevens has had to help many people cope with the loss of loved ones, divorce, and illness. He deals with his own challenge of living with the painful chronic diseases Sarcoidosis and Lymphadema which he has had since returning from Desert Storm.
In spite of his own pain he works tirelessly helping others that are in pain spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

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