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Introducing Kathi, Spiritual Abuse Survey, and Free Domestic Violence Book for Ministry Groups/Organizations


Participants Needed for Research Work on Spiritual Abuse

I received an e-mail from Kathryn Keller Lamar with whom I have corresponded with and networked in spiritual abuse and survivor communities. She is finishing up her doctoral dissertation to complete her studies and I told her I’d be happy to pass along the information. Spiritual abuse continues to be largely misunderstood in the world of psychology and counseling and the more credible research we have on this subject, the better equipped mental health providers will be able to assist the growing number of people hurt by church leaders who spiritually abuse. If you have experienced spiritual abuse, please consider taking this survey. Here is the note Kathryn is sending out:


If you are interested in supporting academic research on spiritual abuse, you are invited to complete the following survey for a doctoral dissertation on spiritual abuse. Feel free to contact the researcher, Kathryn Keller Lamar, for any questions about the study or for general conversation about the topic of spiritual abuse. The academic literature seems to be lagging behind popular culture’s discussion on spiritual abuse (via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), so please help us “catch up” so we can better understand it. Kathryn is a psychology student at Texas Woman’s University and intends to use this study to enhance clinical work as well as further research. The following link will direct you to the survey. It takes less than 30 minutes. Thank you!



Can you help get Barbara Robert’s book, “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery, and Desertion” in the hands of ministries, shelters, abuse programs, and organizations?

Not Under Bondage, Barbara Roberts, Domestic Violence, Divorce, Christian Marriage


One of SSB’s regular readers/commenters, Brenda R., contacted me about a project she took on and I want to pass it along to you. I think it’s a great project and hope that my readers can help get this important book in places where survivors of domestic violence can get better understanding about divorce when there is abuse.  This is one area I think the church has failed women and their children in a horrific way. ~ja

Last fall, I took on a project to search out ministries, shelters, safe houses, abuse programs of all kinds both Christian and secular for the purpose of distributing books. Barbara Roberts and her dad have graciously sent a large number of her book, “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” to the U.S.

Barbara spent 3 years in research in order to write this book and it is excellent. Barb’s book is one of the reasons that I live free from abuse today. During this time, I have run up against a few stumbling blocks: the internet’s information is not updated, shelters no longer exist or have moved (10 years ago). I was even told by a Christian based organization that they could not hand out Christian materials because of their grant funding. Go Figure. Out of 96 letters sent to CA at the end of December about a third of them were returned with no forwarding address, however with the responses that I have had I have been able to promise 102 books. So all is not lost and all of the remaining books will find happy homes in God’s timing.

Rather than continue with sending letters to programs that no longer exist, I have begun asking for help from people on my favorite blog sites who live in the U.S. and Canada who might possibly direct me to programs that exist in their little part of the globe. Yesterday, I put out a similar request at another site and have promised over 100 books since then. I am ready to do some singin’ and shoutin’, but have a long ways to go before this project is complete. The reason that I say that books are being promised is they took a slow boat from Australia, where Barbara is from. I am told they should be arriving in the U.S. today (happy dance here) and then have to make their journey to the person’s home who is going to do the physical shipping of the books. There was much red tape to get through to make this happen, but we seem to be about through all of that.

If anyone knows of any of the types of organizations, ministries or programs that I spoke of that are operational in their area, I would so very much like to hear from you. If even one person reads this book and is saved from the ultimate sacrifice of abuse, it will be worth it. Oh, one last thing. This is a gift. There is absolutely no cost to those that respond and can use the books.

If you are interested in helping to get this book in places where survivors of domestic violence can access to it, please contact Brenda at



Kathi’s Bio

And last, but certainly not least, I think it’s high time that we hear from Kathi. As most of you know, last Spring, I started back at college full-time. This has obviously made an impact on the blog in that I do not have the same amount of time to produce the kinds of articles I was producing, or with the same frequency. Kathi has been helping to feed and moderate the SSB Facebook page and has assisted in moderation on the blog. She’s contributed blog articles, and also for the last few weeks, has put together the SSB Sunday Gathering posts. This has really been a big help to me.

So, with Kathi’s more prominent presence at SSB these days, I think it’s important for you to meet Kathi. She’s been a long-time reader since the lawsuit days. We actually lived in the same town when I was going to BGBC, but didn’t realize it until after we moved. I wish we would have known each other back then as I know we would have had fun getting together and knitting.  We met for coffee on one of my trips to Portland and then last summer, Kathi invited herself to come visit me. I loved that spontaneous visit. We had a great time getting to know each other and especially enjoyed our picnic lunch in kayaks going down the Columbia River.

What I appreciate about Kathi is her heart for those who have been marginalized in the church. She can easily see through nonsense talk from church leaders and calls it what it is. She has spunk and compassion – I love that. I asked Kathi if she’d write a bio to share and she has done that below:

My church experience has spanned from Roman Catholicism to conservative non-denominational evangelical Christian to now considering myself a none/done who still has faith in Jesus.

I attended a non-denominational Christian college and earned an urban ministry degree and now live in the suburbs of Portland (another story for another time). Even though the college I attended was very supportive of women in ministry, while taking homiletics I realized how unsupportive the local church (even in Southern California) was in regard to women in ministry. I have always hoped that I would see a change in the church in regard to women in ministry during my lifetime. I am still waiting.

I ended up in a social work program and during college found myself in placements that worked with children who were abused. My passion for working with and advocating for those who are abused developed during this time.

After the birth of our second child, we decided that financially it made sense for me to stay home. I can honestly tell you that if I would have known in college that I would be staying home and raising children I would have laughed. That was not what I had thought I would do with my life, but it was how life was presenting itself. Also, if I would have known in college that I would also spend 10 years homeschooling said children I would have laughed even harder. Again, life was presenting itself this way and I followed along. While I started out homeschooling with all intent to lead my children in a Biblical understanding of the world, I found that our church experiences were leading me farther from focusing on the Bible to making sure that my children were well-rounded academically and socially.

Our recent church experiences have included a pastor that aspired to become a megachurch pastor. A pastor who strong-armed his way into the pastoral position who later proclaimed that we were not to question God’s anointed. And a house church pastor’s kid who bullied one of ours. When the pastor made light of the situation we decided that we were done with church. We had had enough experiences and had lost enough friendships along the way because we decided not to tow the party line.

Several years ago I found myself reading survivor blogs such as SSB. There were few during that time, but I found it refreshing. I truly believe that one can find genuine community among an online forum. That is what I hope SSB will be for many. Please know that you will always find a listening ear from me. I believe that everyone deserves to tell their story and to have it listened to.


31 thoughts on “Introducing Kathi, Spiritual Abuse Survey, and Free Domestic Violence Book for Ministry Groups/Organizations”

  1. Took the survey, and was interested to note that my experience doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re looking for, partially for a simple reason; while I’ve been told that some theological stands I take (against rules fundamentalism, contra KJVO, etc..) imperil my soul, I’ve never taken those claims seriously.

    Now perhaps I’m just pretty ornery….guilty….but I would be curious if other people have been in potentially abusive situations, but due to whatever factors walked away with…OK, not “no harm done”, but perhaps “a lot less harm done than otherwise would have occurred.”

    And if my weird answers have screwed up an otherwise commendable research project, my apologies. :^)


  2. I appreciate your comment, Bike Bubba! The thing about trauma is it’s about perception. If I tell you you’re going to hell for having sex outside of marriage, you might a) think I’m stupid and brush it off; b) feel scared that you are going to hell; or c) really any other reaction you might have. The survey you took (thanks, by the way!) contains a few different measures….the one under development plus a few more for validity purposes. So for the measure under development, no answer will “mess up” the results…and I’m not necessarily “looking for” anything other than for people to answer true to their experiences. So if you walked away with “no harm done” from a potentially abusive environment, I am happy to hear that 🙂 (BY THE WAY – same thing happens with other kinds of trauma. 2 people can experience the same brutal situation and have different responses to it – one may develop PTSD and the other might not…it’s interesting to understand think about the factors that influence a person’s responses).


  3. ALSO: Anyone is welcome to participate in this survey – whether you have been through spiritual abuse or not or anywhere in between. I need to cast a wide net of participants, so anyone who has been involved in a Christian or Bible-based group can take it. Thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Probably comes as no surprise to the researcher, but what I meant by my experience “not lining up” is that if I were to guess at the answers to her questions that would be the classic picture of abusive, I wasn’t answering the questions in that way.

    And not “no harm done”, as I’d characterize some of the things my family went through as at best “waste of time”, at worst somewhat injurious. Look forward to what is found, and I wonder if you might do well to interview a number of people personally to see that you find. Statistics are great–I work in the field–but sometimes a person will tell you a lot that the numbers don’t.


  5. @Julie Anne and Kathi,

    1. So proud of you Julie Anne for going to college. I’m praying for you.

    2. Thanks for Kathi’s sweet spirit, as always, here (and on other blogs) and for her discerning spirit and wisdom. I so appreciate her presence here and helping out Julie Anne. It’s great to get to more about Kathi!

    3. I took the survey/research study. Best wishes to Ms. Keller Lamar as she completes her studies.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Agreed, bike bubba! There needs to be a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. The measure I developed was based on qualitative interviews with survivors. I’m a huge fan of quant/qual being used to inform each other. At the end of the day, I just want to contribute something that’s actually useful for survivors! 🙂 Thanks for you comments!


  7. Kathi,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think this is the first time I’ve heard this much about your history. It’s a little sad that we all have to “meet” this way, but I’m glad that we have.


    Just finished the survey. Hope you get all that you need for your research. Thank you for your interest in Spiritual Abuse. It’s validating to know that other’s take it seriously. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nice to meet you, Kathryn. 🙂 I took the survey. I was very young and in a position of leadership in a church with a dysfunctional pastor with abusive tendencies, while being in a sexually abusive/abuse of power ‘relationship’ with a person also in leadership and 17 yrs older than me. So, in addition to the abusive dynamic with the sr. pastor, had that whole other scenario to try to figure out. Complaints were made about the second person to the sr. pastor, but no investigation was done, no questions were asked – nothing. So – some of the questions on the survey were hard to answer as I don’t fit neatly into many of the boxes!! I would like to add that I am fully involved and thriving in a healthy, well-functioning church and through that church have received such deep ministry and healing of the deep wounds from the past.


  9. Kathi,
    It’s amazing how our lives take different turns from those we imagine it going. It is good to know more about you and glad you are able to help Julie Anne this way.


  10. Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. Like everyone, there’s more to the story, hard to condense it into a short bio. I have enjoyed getting to know folks on here and look forward to discussions, even if I don’t always participate in them. Please know that my snark/sarcastic meter is often set on high. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Julie Anne – It made me laugh that you said I invited myself up to visit you, ’cause, that’s just what I did! At first I felt bad for intruding, but then I decided that life’s too short to feel bad about wanting to visit someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ang – thanks for your comment and story. I am so sorry for all that you went through with NAR. I have never heard of them, so you are giving me something to check into. Thanks for sharing the link!


  13. Hi Sam! I am sorry to hear of your past experiences and am rejoicing that you have found a healthy community! So awesome!
    And to BeenThereDoneThat – thank you as well for taking the survey. This topic must be taken seriously! I depend on people who care about spiritual abuse AND care to donate their time for research. Takes all of us. THANK YOU!


  14. Haven’t taken the survey yet, but am in agreement with the notion that different people will be differently affected by the same abuse. What I have experienced at the hands of religiously abusive people is subjectively experienced as having been merely dishonored, not as having been fully abused. Perhaps it is an advantage to be predisposed to action rather than to retreat, at least insofar as the subjective experience of abuse is concerned. The disadvantage of actively responding to abuse is that it tends to draw even more, retaliatory, abuse. But then I can see how passive acceptance would also tend to draw further abuse, since the abuser pays no price for their crimes. Whether one is disposed to offense or defense, I suppose balance is called for–at least up to the point that actual battle is joined at the instigation of the abusers.


  15. This survey, in my opinion, appears to have been put together with much thought and consideration for the topic that it explores. I hope as an instrument of measure, the results give the researcher credible evidence to make legitimate assertions and statements about the types or frequencies of spiritual abuse. I also hope that the results are reported in venues that are widely read or distributed. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very salient points, Gary W. And thank you, selah, for the encouragement. I am thankful for the previous research (all qualitative in nature) in which people have shared their stories of SA. This is where the questions derived. Such a “team” effort! In terms of reporting results, if my results are significant and the scale under development is valid and reliable, I will try to publish it. My thesis (on Christian fundamentalism, spiritual maturity, and shame) is being published this spring, so that give me hope that it’s possible. Thanks everyone! I’m getting closer to my needed # for this study. Only need 150 more participants at this point. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. JA: yes, I do–Six Sigma and reliability engineering kind of stuff. Hang in there, as it’s tremendously useful and if you need can get you some decent jobs.

    The down side is that you’ll start thinking things through that come out in the papers and just start shaking your head or yelling impolite things at your paper or the computer screen. :^)


  18. It was interesting taking the survey. On the one hand, it helped me define what was so distressing in my former churches. On the other, I felt a bit guilty, since so many folks have been so dreadfully treated that I come off as a bit of a whinger……


  19. Took the survey too. I kind of wish there had been a final page where we could have added comments in our own words.

    I had to click ‘disagree’ on the spiritual abuse question as I have always been very reticent to classify what I had in mind as such. I think the pastor in my case genuinely meant well, and wasn’t trying to abuse anyone. I would be willing to to call it by the phrase “pastoral malpractice”, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. NJ’s comment resonates for me, and it would be interesting to see if there are some distinct categories of unworthy pastors to somehow distinguish those who are sincere but misguided from those who intentionally do these things. I’ve seen a number of men in the former category, but hesitate to even suggest that someone is in the latter category.

    I’m guessing there are, but I’m going to more or less let them prove it to me. I would expect them strongly among the “my way or the highway” crowd.


  21. Many thanks to the referrals I have gotten for placement of Barbara Roberts book, “Not Under Bondage”. There are just 800 left. If you know of any other shelters, DV programs, ministries etc. Please let me know. The internet is full of listings for information on these resources, but few are actually in existence and updated. Very sad.


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