Many are familiar with the Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel used to identify power dynamics within domestic abuse. This wheel is extremely useful when working with victims and survivors to identify power and control tactics used in their interpersonal relationships.
One day it occurred to me that a power and control wheel could easily be put together on spiritual abuse. Abuse is about power and control, no matter the type of abuse. The same tactics that we see used in domestic abuse may be found in spiritual abuse. I am thankful that Laura Anderson at the Religious Trauma Institute was willing to share the Religious Power and Control Wheel she created.
Each section of the Religious Power and Control Wheel describes a tactic used by abusers to maintain power and control over their victims. According to Laura Anderson, when the tactics are combined, a system is “designed and intended to exert power and control over others by their rules, requirements, punishments and consequences for not adhering to the specific requirements of the group.”
Many who read here will be able to identify with some or all of these tactics. I thought it would be good to provide a space to talk about each one individually. On the wheel, isolation is described as:
*Cutting off relationships with people outside the system
*Reporting back where time/money was spent
*Increased level of commitment to the systems’ activities
*Devaluing people not in the religious system
*Fear/propaganda regarding motives of people outside the system
Abusive religious leaders isolate in order to control the way members think, behave, and feel. Members find that their energy, money, emotional and mental energy, and time becomes focused on the leader and group while outside relationships or information become more untrustworthy. Physical isolation may also occur; members may be required to live in the same house or move to a remote location.
Are there other ways that you have seen controlling religious groups or leaders isolate? If you experienced spiritual abuse, how did isolation impact you?