Spiritual abuse, children, mental health, high-controlling church, NAR, New Apostolic Reformation
Special note: I am in Chicago until 11/5 and would love to get together with survivors or those interested in helping survivors. If you would like to meet up, please contact me and let’s see if we can arrange a gathering. firstname.lastname@example.org ~Julie Anne
Today, we are going to read a brief personal story from Andrew. Andrew shares with us the harm his family faced and is still facing after being in a high-controlling, abusive church for 15 years.
There are a number of thoughts that struck me when reading his words.
- First, Andrew seems to have a good understanding of what he and his family endured, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes this process can take years.
- Secondly, he is not minimizing or trying to move past the current emotional and mental state of his family. It appears that he is appropriately addressing each conflict or bump in the road right now. Many times when people are in a spiritually abusive church, they want to move on so quickly (understandably), that they forget to take care of themselves and get their wounds healed.
- Thirdly, Andrew is aware that this healing process is a journey. He’s taking a realistic look at where he’s been, what is happening now, and the work ahead, and knows there is no quick fix.
I believe there is a recovery process to get to wholeness after spiritual abuse. Process is the key word. It doesn’t work well to close the door to spiritual abuse and act like it never existed. It did exist and it did have an impact on lives. If we are quick to put it behind us without doing the necessary recovery work, we are likely to fall into similar traps. When we go through recovery, we gain knowledge, understanding, have a new fresh perspective on who God is and how He relates with us, and we learn to forgive ourselves. ~ja
Family Fallout after High-Controlling Church Experience
My family and I fled from a small, very controlling church birthed into NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) thinking 18 months ago. It was and has been horrific; my faith has and is still undergoing serious questioning and reshaping. The cornerstone is still there but the foundation is being taken apart and examined piece by piece.
My kids, whose ages range from 19 down to 2, have had to completely restart their lives; most of them were born into and raised by the group.
We are experiencing things like severe clinical depression, self-harming (which started while still members of the group, occurring notably before the bi-weekly meetings), serious issues with who and what God actually is to them, etc.
They have difficulty in making and maintaining relationships with other kids their age; they never learnt the basic skills of how actual humans interrelate with each other. They literally do not have the skills to make friends. In the group, all relationships were mandated and controlled, and any kind of disagreement or conflict was dealt with very firm words and/or physical punishment.
For rebellious children, the punishment was being “put under discipline,” which could include seclusion from their peers, being home-schooled alone, instead of with the community of “family” as it was called, having to perform work like weeding yards during play time, dietary restrictions, etc. So, my kids never learnt how to have healthy conflict, or to find their own voice in relationships.
My eldest kids just don’t know if they believe anymore. They recoil from any kind of discussion about God, and quite frankly I understand. The God they learnt and experienced was harsh, demanding, and only exhibited “tough love.” The God they experienced was a man, the “Apostle” of the church who was (and I quote) “The Apostolic Revelation of Jesus Christ to this church.”
Bit by bit we are all finding our way out of this place. It is painfully and painstakingly slow. I know that after 15 years in the group, it will take some time.