Spiritual abuse and my fallout with religion

Every time I have a question about the abuse I went through I turn to my handy dandy book, It’s My Life Now: Starting over after an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence. This truly has been a wonderful resource and has made me realize what I went through was not unique. Many of the situations mentioned in the book I was able to check off.  From the book I was able to identify the physical, emotional, and financial abuse that I was subjected. Today I ruminate about a recent discovery. Another set of dots I can connect on trying to figure out why my attitude and feelings I have changed

Spiritual Abuse

In the book it states how your partner may use your spiritual, personal and philosophical believes against you. This include examples such as using religious text to show how you are their property which justifies their behavior. Or that you are to submit to them and if you don’t you are to be punished for it. Below is a photo of my book that bullet points the different ways you could be spiritually abused.


Here are some examples of the above I have experienced in my personal life:

1. My abuser was the type of Christian that only went to church on a holiday. Particularly Easter. We used to go to services with his mother the whole weekend and during this time I have never seen him so holy. The wrath of God would come down on me through him should I mess up anything (pants not creased right, wrong food bought… etc) during Easter weekend.

2. There was a time when we tried to go to a church my uncle and aunt attended. He went to a man’s only meeting and came back telling me how the man is the head of the household and that they control their woman. I am not sure if that was actually what was said in that meeting but it did not sit right with me.

3. Then later on I tried to turn to the Episcopalian church. He didn’t agree with me going. He didn’t like who I went with (he never liked any of my friends). He also felt that because I was already baptized in one church that I shouldn’t get baptized again. We got into a huge argument on the day of my baptism (I need to do it because it was the only way I could be confirmed as an Episcopalian). Him and his mother both ganged up on me that morning. I am not sure he knew what the word opinion meant. He seemed to view his opinion as the law. I went anyway but the argument made me late.

4. Probably one of my biggest takeaways from that situation was how he used religious doctrine against me. For example the concept of forgiveness. He would tell me all the time how he could kill me and God would just forgive him so it didn’t matter how many crosses I wore or prayers I said. In fact if I wore a cross or said a pray (sometimes I would pray as he beat me but I didn’t know what else to do in those moments) it would make him even angrier at me. Like my praying was telling him he was a bad person but it was my fault every time he would attack me (I’d end up apologizing per usual).

5. The final straw that completely changed my views of the church came from the “friend” that brought me into the Episcopal church. Most Sundays when I was able to attend I would stand there and go through all the motions. The people in the church called it “Catholic lite.” Anyway one of the stages of the service was a group prayer of forgiveness. It is a nice thought that, because we are sinners, God forgives us. However, at this point in my life the concept was quickly becoming foreign to me. I would soon find out this “friend” was talking behind my back and telling people that I was crazy. That broke me and helped make me who I am today. How in the world can a person go to church on a Sunday and pray for forgiveness only to turn around and treat people like crap from Monday to Saturday?

I began to view forgiveness as an excuse.

We can do whatever we want and God will forgive us type of thing.

One can kill and be forgiven

One can talk about you behind your back and will be forgiven

One can be an utter asshole and will be forgiven

How is that teaching anyone to be responsible for themselves? That is basically saying there are no consequences for your actions… is it not? I am grateful for it at the same time I find it incredibly unfair and hard to comprehend. I am also clearly doing it wrong in my personal life because even though I tell myself I forgive I still from time to time feel the pain from whatever it is I am forgiving. I have a post planned next on that particular conundrum. I am still evaluating my feelings on why I am unable to completely let go of pain. I am suspecting it has a lot of do with fear and identity of self. Stay tuned for that!

I close with these random thoughts. I still believe that there is something bigger than us out there. I believe in treating people with kindness and that you reap what you sow. I believe that putting positive vibes out into the universe brings positive back into your life. I have personally experienced this when I was able to retrieve my forgotten purse from a Target store with everything still intact. I believe that was due in part to my daily efforts to show kindness to others. I give whenever I can.

What I have lost my faith in is organized religion. I see how it is used in politics and I don’t like it. I believe in a firm separation of church and state. I see how it is used to try and control people. I believe we are a land of religious freedom. People came to this country, since the time of the pilgrims, to escape religious persecution. You are free to believe in God just as much as your neighbor it free to not believe. Due to this freedom of religion we are a country of many many faiths and therefore it is wrong to try to push only one religious agenda. I have lost faith in the concept of forgiveness. Maybe I sound whiny when I say it is unfair that someone can murder and be forgiven. After all the dead cannot come back.

I don’t know how to rectify this storm in my head. Sometimes it scares me.

Essay 10/52


7 thoughts on “Spiritual abuse and my fallout with religion

  1. StephieAnn,

    I found your post through the Daily Post.

    I know I’m not directly responsible for the way you were mistreated in the church, but I want to apologize to you because I am “one of those people.” It breaks my heart to hear the abuse you faced. It is my belief that a church family should be a safe place that you can heal from life’s hurt. I’m so sorry that instead you were hurt further.

    I am personally working through the fact that my Sunday self does not match my true self. I do believe in God’s forgiveness, but I agree with you that it should not be used as an excuse to do anything we want. I also believe that forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be natural consequences for our wrong behavior. I wrote a post a few days ago about forgiveness. Maybe we could find some common ground and help each other from opposite sides of this mess.


    May God bless you for your willingness to share your heart and your hurt.

    In True Sincerity, Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While I am sorry for the pain of what you have gone through, I absolutely enjoyed this post and hearing your views and story. I’m a Christian (a pastors daughter) but while I have my faith- I also believe in free will. Growing up in a church I could never use or view the written word as an excuse or something to hide behind like so many of these ‘characters’ (the nice way of putting it) you come across- It was always a guide, a tool to be used but never ever to be used to justify abuse or cruelty of any kind. It makes me upset that so many people use it as an excuse for horrible things they can control- if only they put the effort in or became more self aware or empathetic… tolerant… etc..I always find certain types take the worst things to live by and forget the most important message about love. Okay- this got long but overall I just wanted to say I am very intrigued by the things you have to say and I have give you a follow. I look forward to more posts!


  3. There are great churches with great people who accept that they are sinners and imperfect. Sometimes you have to find the one that speaks to your soul and truthfully the church is just a microcosm of the real world. But, we can’t lose our faith and hope in humanity.


  4. Pingback: O: Observing my feelings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s