I have been working along side other community members at our local police department for over four years now as a victim advocate. I am continually amazed by and honored to work with these wonderful peers as we serve victims on scenes of crime. While we can respond to call of any type of crime, the overwhelming calls we respond to are for domestic violence.
Last year I participated in a few training sessions with our new advocates and when I told some of them about the stories we hear in the Christian world, they looked at me with stunned expressions and couldn’t believe it. Since that time, I have been thinking about creating a training on the spiritual abuse component of domestic violence. The time has come to move forward with putting something together!
We have a great county resource guide for victims which includes information on community resource, protective orders, safety planning, etc. There is a small portion about spiritual abuse patterns in domestic violence including the following (Please remember we serve a diverse community, so this list isn’t exclusive to Christianity):
Patterns of Spiritual Abuse:Beaverton Police Department Resource Guide, pages 21
Forcing the conversion to a different religion
Not allowing a victim to practice their religion
Not allowing attendance at religious services
Forcing attendance at religious services
Degrading what is sacred to a victim
Humiliation in front of people affiliated with the victim’s religion or spirituality
Using religion to justify abuse
I am looking for anyone who is willing to share stories of how spiritual abuse fit within your domestic violence situation. I will not mention names, but will be mentioning the blog. This means that we may have new people viewing the blog and they may see your name. If you’re concerned about that, please use a pseudonym. You may also email me if you do not wish leave a comment at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are are some questions to consider for your personal account:
- How did your partner or others spiritually abuse you?
- Was there a time prior to your marriage where you were taught that a marriage is permanent or God hates divorce?
- Were there pastors who advised you that you could not divorce, verses which supported your abuser instead of you, books that encouraged you to not leave your marriage, or friends or other sources who said that you just needed to be a better partner?
Since the stories we discuss on the blog center on the Christian world, I will frame my training in this lens. But, abuse is abuse, and we know that what happens in Christian intimate partner relationships relates to other religious groups.
Thank you in advance for your help. The more training my co-advocates receive, the better. I truly think it will be eye-opening for them to hear these stories. Everyone reacts differently to sharing their story of abuse, so please make sure you’re taking care of yourself. For our readers, please be kind to each other on this post.