[00:00:00] This is Natalie Kimber with freedom from spiritual abuse, the podcast. And I'm so glad you're here.
Today. I want to introduce to you who I am. My name is Natalie Kimber. And I am a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Michigan. I have my own private practice surrounding spiritual abuse and religious trauma. And i am excited to get started on this podcast
This introduction episode is going to really cover some background information, kind of lay a little bit of a foundation. Where I'm coming from and where I'm hoping to go with this podcast. So, first I want to touch on what is spiritual abuse. And then I'm going to talk about some examples of it. And also what is religious trauma? How do we know if there might be a trauma response going on?
So first off to talk about spiritual. Spiritual abuse really is the control or power over somebody using religion, faith, or [00:01:00] spirituality. It's really important to remember. That it doesn't have to take place in a church environment. It can take place in a religious context in a church. It can take place in a family, a faith based organization.
It also takes place. In other types of organizations like new age organizations, I have heard of people experiencing spiritual abuse. In different sort of multi-level marketing companies. So it doesn't have to look like just one specific type of thing. There's all sorts of diversity and different places where spiritual abuse can occur.
So what makes spiritual abuse so incredibly harmful? Well, there's a lot of research out there that spirituality and faith can be a really helpful tool in people's healing. So one thing that makes spiritual abuse, so insidious to Is the fact that it can remove somebody from having the ability to use their faith or spirituality as a way of [00:02:00] helping to recover.
If you're traumatized in your faith environment, You could potentially lose that entire network of people and support. But you can also lose your connection to your spirituality or to a larger being like God.
What are some examples of spiritual abuse? How do we really know if we've seen or heard this in our lives? So one of the really common ways spiritual abuse happens within like a faith context, which is predominantly going to be my focus on this podcast. Would be the using of scripture or sacred texts to control somebody's behavior or to shame you.
It can look like using God or the threat of hell to control somebody's behavior and life decisions. It can be using your religious beliefs to control what you wear, even control people's sex lives. Who they date, what their lives look like. When someone invokes divine authority to manipulate somebody [00:03:00] that's also spiritual abuse
It can also look like. Coercing somebody into giving more money than they have, or then they were planning on giving. Exploitation of volunteers and pushing for more and more service. . It can look like demanding more and more service and time from people because they claim that's what god would want
Spiritual abuse often co-occurring with other forms of abuse, it happens a lot within domestic violence. It can happen along with emotional. Verbal physical abuse. It can happen along with sexual abuse.
There really are countless examples that we could give. Specifically of spiritual abuse, but I'm hoping that gives you a little bit of an overview. Of what it is and what it can look like in real life. So let's talk about religious trauma. Religious trauma occurs when an individual. Develops a set of symptoms following an extremely stressful or abusive situation [00:04:00] related to their faith or spirituality.
Let's talk about what trauma responses are like, how do you know what those look like? Or what do they feel like? So according to the national center for PTSD. Some signs of trauma are losing hope for the future, feeling detached from yourself and your experience being unable to concentrate, having difficulty at work or school.
Feeling easily, jumpy and startled. Dreams or intrusive memories that are upsetting to you when you experience them. It can be avoiding people, places and things related to the event itself. So when we're talking about religious trauma, that can look like avoiding anything. Of your faith, inviting people from that church, avoiding songs that might take you back to that place. Things like that.
There's also very often a lot of physical reactions that people experience. They can experience upset, stomach [00:05:00] sleeping issues, pounding heart, feeling sweaty, shaky headaches. When you think about the event,
A lot of anxiousness irritability. Easily upset and rapid shifting emotions.
So you can see how easily trauma and the trauma responses can really negatively impact your daily life. How hard it would be to go through a day. When you're exposed to a stimulus and have these sorts of
The reality is a spiritual abuse. And also religious trauma can be very complex. It can infect in a sense, every layer, an area of your life. So I'm hoping that through this podcast, I continue to shine the light on the topic and help bring guests in from different angles, different walks of life, different experiences that can give us different perspectives and their thoughts and their share their education with us.
About the topic of religious trauma and spiritual 'cause a lot of [00:06:00] times that knowledge is so validating and helpful and empowering to people. Oftentimes, when you find yourself in those types of abusive environments, it is incredibly difficult. To gather the strength to leave. But if you hear something like a podcast or read a book or hear somebody's story, that sounds similar to what you're experiencing. That validation can be so empowering. It can help give you the strength that you need to get yourself to a safe place and to start to pursue some healing.
Healing can be complex. It can be long. It can be short. It depends on the person and their experiences. And that's the other thing I want to touch on. People can experience spiritual abuse and develop trauma responses. Like religious trauma. People can endure spiritual abuse and not develop trauma responses.
So it's really important to just not compare your experience in response or reaction to it, to everybody around [00:07:00] Because trauma, especially is a very individual thing. Two people can go through the same experience. One can come out with trauma and one can come out without now the person who doesn't develop a trauma response, it doesn't necessarily mean they weren't affected.
It could still leave a lasting impact on your people will come to counseling who might not have specifically trauma responses in
But they still want to work through the way that it's impacted them and what they want for their life going And everybody's experience and reaction to those things are individual and valid. And I'm hoping that the guests I have on here will help to shine a light on that for you. And help to educate people and start really important conversations. So i hope you'll join me next week as i have my first guest and we continue the conversation