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Religious Trauma and Spiritual Abuse

Growing up you were always trying to stay on the straight and narrow. Keep everybody happy by filling the role you were told was yours to fill. But now, you know it’s too much of a load to bear. Feeling like you are “faking it” is draining you dry and leaving you with anger and confusion. 

Inner conflict can take over your thoughts. When you walk into the church on Sunday morning you might feel knots in your stomach, shaking when the preaching starts, and an urge to flee. Then, you start questioning your gut response when others around you bypass the issues and say that things are fine. They might even suggest the problem lies with you. Planting the seed that perhaps you have a rebellious spirit, some sort of sin that needs to be “corrected.” All of this can leave you more confused than before. 

You feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to go from this point. 

Your faith environment used to feel like a safe and happy community but once you saw the signs of abuse you can’t unsee them. Now, you don’t know what to do. It seems like everyone around you feels like everything is fine. But you can’t unsee what you have seen. How is it possible to just press on and attempt to stuff these feelings any longer? Those “stuffed” concerns can easily give way to frequent worry, trauma reactions, and feelings of isolation.

You know that leaving it all behind will come with a great cost. Relationships, community, a sense of certainty. You’re afraid everything will start to unravel if you acknowledge the reality of the abuse you’ve endured. Losing a faith community can feel daunting because you know that so much is tied to that community. You also worry that if you allow yourself to question things will the questions ever stop coming? Will you feel peace again at some point? Will you ever find a healthy community?

Loneliness might be looming but you don’t have to walk through this alone. 

Healing is possible from spiritual abuse and religious trauma. The road might not be clear at the moment but with one step at a time you will start to feel hope that freedom is there. The journey from recognizing the abuse and trauma and feeling the freedom for the first time might not be easy, but it’s a journey worth taking. 

You don’t have to continue to “fake it.” Instead, you can work toward a genuine life and find healthy relationships with those who appreciate you for you. 

In our work together we will identify the signs of the spiritual abuse and work to recognize trauma responses as they present themselves. We can work on ways of coping through the trauma responses so you can begin to feel a sense of peace again within your own body. We will identify the strengths you have that have brought you to this point today. I believe we can sort through the messy pieces of the abuse and begin to bring order into the chaos. 

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