BGBC Google Reviews, BGBC Lawsuit, Recovery Process, Spiritual Abuse

Invitation to Participate in New Spiritual Abuse Research Study by Dr. Barb Orlowski

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Spiritual abuse author Dr. Barb Orlowski to conduct a new spiritual abuse survivor survey and is looking for participants.

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Spiritual abuse sometimes feels like a dark cloud.
Spiritual abuse sometimes feels like a dark cloud.

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Late February of 2012, I started my first blog, Beaverton Grace Bible Church Survivors (later changed to BGBC Survivors) to share about the spiritual abuse my family incurred at the church we had attended for a couple of years.  Within days of beginning that blog, I was sued by the same pastor.  I had no idea where to go for help. Dr. Barb Orlowski had left a comment on my blog earlier in the day. That same night, I sent out three e-mails crying out for help.  I am indebted to Barb who provided immediate support when I was so desperate.  Searching back in my files, I found the original e-mail:

Hi Barb:

You posted on my blog today.  Thank you very much.  I responded earlier, but wasn’t sure if you saw it.  This evening after I got back from taking my daughter to volleyball practice, my husband handed me a court summons.   You may have read some of my story on my blog.

Shockingly, (but perhaps not because I know his character), our former pastor, Chuck O’Neal has served us a court summons this evening to the tune of $500,000:   $250,000 in damage for reputation of the church and $250,000 to the pastor for “damage to personal, professional reputation, suffered humiliation and mental, emotional and physical distress”.  He has named 3 people including myself in the summons.  My 25-yr old daughter who posted a review “Hannah” – who has not stepped one foot in church since leaving Beaverton Grace Bible Church because of the fallout, and 2 others, Kathy and Jason, who also posted negative reviews on Google and elsewhere.  I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mother of 7 (6 living in the home).  I live 4 hours away from court, so obviously this is going to be a big burden for our family, let alone the financial burden.  My head is spinning.

I started the blog last Friday after I could no longer post my reviews on Google (I think Chuck, former pastor, possibly reported my review and somehow it was removed???).

Here is the google review site on the church.

And here is his home church page – you can see that he himself calls out wolves in his sermons/blogs.  This is nothing new to him, except now he is being called a wolf by me and others.

Do you have any idea where I can turn to for advice?  Please feel free to fwd my e-mail/address to anyone who might be able to offer assistance.

Thank you so much!

Julie Anne Smith

Many of you know the rest of the story:  my attorney, Linda Williams, filed an anti-SLAPP lawsuit and the case was dismissed late July 2012. The pastor and church were required to pay nearly $60,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

Barb is the recipient of a quite a few e-mails from those who have experienced spiritual abuse. She has been such a wonderful support to me and many others.  Along with supporting people, she continues to network and research spiritual abuse. I am so grateful for her work.

Barb is conducting a new survey on spiritual abuse and I would like to help spread the word. My friend and spiritual abuse survivor Brad Sargent, posted the details on his blog, and gave me permission to cross-post it here.

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Dr. Barb Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors to complete a survey…

Six years ago, a friend blogged about Barb Orlowski looking for survivors of spiritual abuse to fill out a survey about their experiences and recovery. This was for Barb’s doctoral project. I participated – it changed my life!

Back then, the landscape of the survivor community was way less developed, and there was far less research available. Dr. Orlowski’s ground-breaking work deservedly got published in the book Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness (Wipf & Stock, 2010). All the while, she’s continued working behind the scenes to minister to survivors, get them connected, and provide new resources. Her compassionate investment in this marginalized community has made an incredibly positive impact for the Kingdom!

And now Dr. Orlowski is looking for spiritual abuse survivors for a new study. It uses a similar set of questions to her 2008 survey, but she is also looking to research how widespread spiritual abuse is. If you are a survivor and didn’t participate in her original study, please consider helping her with this one. I know from experience that it provides an invaluable opportunity to reflect carefully on what happened to us, and synthesize that with intuitive hunches about issues like:

  • What made me susceptible to spiritual abuse?
  • How do toxic leaders capture followers and then keep them under control?
  • What process did I undergo to bring healing from those wounds by religious wolves?

I believe you’d find taking this survey helpful to you, too, if this is the right time for you to think through the destructive impact of abuse, and how reconstruction has been happening in your personal life. The invitation letter with details from Dr. Orlowski is below.

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Request for Survey Participants 2013


You are invited to participate in a New Survey regarding those who have experienced spiritual abuse in your home church or parachurch organization and how you recovered from it.

My initial doctoral research was to confirm how people recovered from the devastating effects of spiritual abuse.  This new survey will seek to verify the numbers of people directly involvedin harmful treatment of congregants by the behaviors of church leaders, as well as how those wounded have recovered.

Please consider being a part of this new study. Your responses will be kept in my file for my personal use.  If needed, some pertinent comments may be selected to quote.  But anonymity is assured and your name will not be linked with information you share about your experiences.  Your input will be valued and added to the data regarding this topic.  This information will help to better understand the issues.

Please check out my website: and read the articles entitled:  FAQ and What Spiritual Abuse Is and Is Not.  With this description in mind, you can consider if you have had the life experience that this research is seeking to track.

As with the original study, ‘criteria for participants’ is important.  This is to ensure that those who participate in this study are reasonably healed and will not be further harmed by doing this survey.

On the lower right side of my website, you will find the ‘Take The Survey’ page. The CRITERIA FOR THIS STUDY will be on that page. If this fits you, then scroll down a bit further and you will find the link in blue for this survey: PLEASE CLICK HERE.

I was recently asked by a researcher in Australia if I could point them to statistics regarding how widespread spiritual abuse was.  At this time, there does not appear to be very many studies that I can point people to, apart from my own.  This is a motivator to request that people–who were not involved in the original study–take the time and be a part of this new research project.

This is my personal study.  This time it will not be connected with a seminary or be for a degree program.  This information will be added to my ongoing research in this area.  You can be a part of it.  Statistics and data assessed may eventually be available to bloggers who are keen on this topic.

I believe that we can all benefit from this intentional effort.  Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Please let me know which blogsite/s informed you about this new study.

You can contact me through my website email:

Thanks for your support and feedback in this venture.


Barb Orlowski, D.Min.



Networking with Others to Raise Awareness

About Spiritual Abuse and Gender Inequality

photo credit: lokidude99 via photopin cc

15 thoughts on “Invitation to Participate in New Spiritual Abuse Research Study by Dr. Barb Orlowski”

  1. Apart from actual domineering is how they will ostracize you for not going along with the program, always making nice as they do. That kind of thing is enforced more by congregations than pastors. I suppose a lot of it is fearfulness about being a heretic, the notion that godliness is about not asking questions.

    Counting the question marks in the Psalms should suffice to cure that, but I’m reminded of Isaiah 44, where there is no power to say, “I have burned half in the fire and cooked on it, and I should bow down to worship a block of wood?”

    This environment is fertile ground for dictators to sprout up like mushrooms in the dark. Paul warned of this in his last word to the elders of Ephesus when he left them in Miletus; it’s not a new problem.


  2. I looked at Beaverton’s website. Pretty obviously into authoritarianism and like not having any loose ends – there’s an answer to everything. It’s pertinent that in his word on love in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes that now we see in a mirror in a riddle, and he was including himself. Once we have to know it all, love is impossible.


  3. Yes, Peter, many times, the congregants voluntarily assist the pastor in his abuse (by shunning, etc). They are accomplices and many times are not aware of the full picture. In my situation, there was quite a large group who left the church after us. They were shunning us for a couple of years. Now, after leaving, many of them have come to us (the first group to leave) to apologize. They did not realize what they were doing. Thankfully, we all knew what was going on – – that he had blinded them from the truth. There have been many restored relationship. That part is so beautiful. We pray for those who remain – – – – that someday, somehow they will see the light.


  4. “… I sent out three e-mails crying out for help.”

    Julie Anne, it makes me so dang sad and angry to read about what happened to you. What a survivor you are.

    Barb, thank you for being there for J.A. and for so many others.


  5. Oasis – Thank you!

    I just sent an e-mail to both Brad and Barb and another support person in my support team saying it was pretty weird to read over that old e-mail. It brought me back to that heightened level of emotion. When something that emotional happens, it’s like time freezes. I told them that I feel like I still have the same level of emotion in me. This week, I was reeling with Doug Phillips – – not just the man, but what he has represented to so many people. I’m angry. I’m angry at families torn apart. I easily have 30 posts swimming around in my head right now. My biggest problem is telling my brain to settle down to focus on one post. I am so upset at these abuses.


  6. Hi Everyone,

    If you go to home page, then scroll down to the right hand side you will see Take the Survey as well as Add Your Voice. (They are the same.) As people read through the Introduction, they can consider the criteria for this study and if they see if this is a fit for them.

    Further down on that page is: PLEASE CLICK HERE in blue. That will link you to the Survey Questions.

    If anyone should have any further questions, concerns, or suggestions, then contact me through my website email:

    Hope that clarifies.

    All the best!


  7. For those of you that have none of the Microsoft Word products, here is a free program that is equal to Microsoft Office (OK maybe a few less bells and trinkets). It is called Open Office and it is free to all non commercial people. It is totally compatable with all MS Office formats.

    Down load here


  8. Julie Anne, there is a lot to be angry and upset about, and it can be very triggering. You are now a shining beacon in the darkness, though. Please take care of yourself, we love you.


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