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Below is a compilation of resources (book recommendations, websites, groups, etc.) for helping those who have experienced various types of abuse (spiritual, emotional, verbal, sexual, domestic violence). Many times the Christian church has not been a safe place for victims to go for help. I try to do my best to keep this page updated and reliable. Please let me know if you have additional resources or concerns about anything recommend.
If you still are not finding the help you need, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My team and I will do our best to help you!
grace and peace,
Spiritual Sounding Board Resource Page
Sites and Links that Provide Help and Information Regarding Spiritual Abuse
A Cry for Justice – Pastor Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts (and team) discuss domestic violence in the church. This is a very wonderful site for those in troubled marriages dealing with any kind of abuse, spiritual, emotional, physical, or sexual.
Are You Ready to Find a New Church? Good guidelines here!
Church Exiters, Dr. Barb Orlowski
Going Back to Church? Some Thoughts to Consider: Blog readers compile a list: what helped, what to look for, what to avoid when going back to church after spiritual abuse.
Liberty for Captives – Cult survivor, Stephen Smith, writes articles pertaining to spiritual abuse. His work is excellent and very helpful.
Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.
Pastoral Bullies – Excellent article by Sam Storms, describing how a pastor can bully or domineer.
Provender: “A clearinghouse of sources on spiritual abuse and cult-like practices in groups and churches.
Recovering from Churches that Abuse – Ron Enroth, Free Online Book
VM Life Resources Informative website from people who were involved in Dallas cult. Very good information and helps.
The Dark Side of Spiritual Abuse blog series by Philip Harelson
Brad Sargent has compiled a listing of books dealing with spiritual abuse and recovery here.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON SPIRITUAL ABUSE
Messages on Topics of Abuse
Unspeakable Truths – video/audio: My quick review: I just listened to this powerful 40+ min. teaching on family dysfunction and its devastating and lasting effects. While this specifically refers to sexual abuse in a family, the same results and patterns are found with other types of abuse (emotional/physical/spiritual). Lorie Kaufman-Rees uses the biblical story of Tamar and identifies key sins of the family in how they treated her and the cover-up of the horrific sin/crime committed against her. This is now one of my favorite resources on this topic. I highly, highly recommend it.~ja
This is a compilation of commonly used verses pastors used to control, manipulate, and abuse: Spiritual Abuse: Verses Pastors Twist and Misuse to Control
“Suggestions for Spiritual Abuse Survivors in the How, When, and Why in Sharing Our Accounts of Recovery” by Brad/futuristguy: Is It Time To Tell My Story?
If you are considering telling your story, this is the best material I’ve seen. Brad Sargent has extensive experience with this topic and helps survivors to think through the process. He also includes very important considerations that might be overlooked.
By Wade Burleson and his father, Paul Burleson, this is a document on Biblical authority in the church. Many times spiritual abusers assume authority that is not Biblically theirs to have. Wade and Paul flesh this out using scripture.
Spiritual Sounding Board private forum
If you would like to join the new private gathering place to share and support those affected by church abuse, please send an e-mail request to: SpiritualSB@gmail.com
COUNSELING AND RETREAT CENTERS SPECIALIZING IN SPIRITUAL ABUSE
Bent Meyer of Paradigm Counseling of Puget Sound: Bent Meyer is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in counseling those who have been spiritually abused.
Mike Noblin: Therapist in Seattle who specializes in helping who have suffered spiritual abuse
MeadowHaven “exists to provide a refuge for former members of high control, destructive groups to rest, heal, and grow. By understanding their experience in an abusive environment and acquiring the skills necessary for life outside the group, MeadowHaven helps former members recover their ability to be thriving contributors to society. Healing is fostered in the context of healthy community, relationships with other former members with similar experiences, and a supportive staff who understand the processes of thought reform, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), identity confusion, chronic emotional disturbance, etc.”
Spiritual Abuse Recovery: “My name is Brandon Santan and I’m a counselor specializing in Spiritual Abuse Recovery. I know what it’s like. I was in a spiritually abusive environment for over 25 years which resulted in a roller coaster ride of emotions and crisis of faith. Never in my life have I experienced the grace of God like I did when I found out the truth regarding the spiritual abuse I had experienced.”
Symboulous Ministries: It is with great respect that I dedicate Symboulos Ministries to my brothers and sisters in Christ who have suffered the trauma and negative repercussions of spiritual abuse, and yet refuse to count themselves among “those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Heb. 10:39 ESV -Bob Dixon, Founder Symboulos Ministries
“Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center is a residential treatment center for those who have been abused in relationships, cults, situations of trauma, and by destructive therapeutic alliances resulting in emotional betrayal and/or physical harm. We offer hope and help through a program of counseling, education, and retreat.”
Violence against women: a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’. News release of June 20, 2013, World Health Organization. Violence against women: a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’
“The study finds that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30% of women worldwide.” US Research on Domestic Violence
Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking are important and widespread public health problems in the United States. On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story—nearly 2 million women are raped in a year and over 7 million women and men are victims of stalking in a year.
National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010 report. Executive Summary. (Published November 2011.)
When it comes to domestic violence, Protestant pastors want to be helpful but often don’t know where to start.
Most say their church would be a safe haven for victims of domestic violence.
But many don’t know if anyone in their church has been a victim of domestic violence. And only half say they have a plan in place to help if a victim comes forward.
Viewing abuse as an issue of submission also creates a Catch-22 for the wife. Within evangelicalism, submission is considered an important issue because unsubmissive women are seen as a major, if not the problem for families and society today. But by stating that her submission could have prevented the abuse from occurring, we are stating that in reality submission is the means of controlling the abusive husband. So she is being admonished to stop usurping his authority and yet being told to exercise control through her submission. This is contradictory. This also places her in an impossible position, for what human being has the ability to change another person’s heart? Only the Holy Spirit has the power to convict of sin and bring repentance. (Source) (Note: this source has been removed from the internet, without being captured on the Wayback Machine. If someone can identify the source, please let me know.)
Domestic Violence Resources This list comes from A Cry for Justice blog which deals with domestic violence in the church. Excellent list of resources here.
Church Positions on Domestic Violence From A Cry for Justice blog, “This page gives links to a number of denominational position statements, booklets or webpages on how to deal with domestic abuse.”
Here are some great resources from RBC Ministries dealing with domestic violence, emotional/spiritual abuse:
- For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson: When Violence Comes Home.
- When Words Hurt – booklet on verbal abuse
- God’s Protection for Women is a booklet for women in abusive relationships.
Are You in an Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Take this quick self-test to see if you are in an emotionally-destructive relationship. This test is taken from Leslie Vernick’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It.
Leslie Vernick also has another excellent book: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope
How to Help a Victim of Violence – Dr. Christy Sim
Five Things I Wish I Had Known When I Left, by Rachel Miller
The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse, by Barbara Roberts
One of the problems when dealing with domestic abuse in a Christian context is, “What does the Bible says about divorce for domestic abuse?” I believe the Bible allows divorce for domestic abuse, and the key text for this is 1 Corinthians 7:15 –But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. For God has called us to peace.
What about divorce for domestic violence (physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual)? Barbara Roberts’ excellent article addresses this topic. Here is another excerpt from The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse:
This verse has been generally assumed to relate to desertion: when an unbelieving spouse walks out, abandoning a marriage with a Christian spouse, but not legally divorcing them. However, in the Greek text the word “depart” (chorizo) means “to place space between, to separate” and it was one of the standard terms for legal divorce in the first century.
Typically, perpetrators of abuse do not walk out of their marriages – they want to stay in the relationship because they enjoy the power, privilege and control they obtain therein. So the victim of abuse thinks verse fifteen does not apply to her. However, when correctly understood, it is the verse which gives her freedom. (And yes, men can be victims too; though it appears to be much less common than men being the perpetrators).
This is excellent from Faith Trust Institute:
For some Christians, a strong doctrinal position against divorce may inhibit them from exercising this means of dealing with domestic violence. For others, a position against divorce is a personally held belief often supported by family and church. In either case, there is a common assumption that any marriage is better than no marriage at all and, therefore, should be maintained at any cost. This assumption arises from a superficial view of marriage is concerned only with appearances and not with substance. In other words, as long as marriage and family relationships maintain a facade of normalcy, there is a refusal by church and community to look any closer for fear of seeing abuse or violence in the home.
What the Bible REALLY says about domestic violence and divorce – Pastor Neil Schori
Domestic Violence in the Church Research Report – Autumn Miles, LifeWay Researc
Private groups on Facebook for Married or Separated/Divorced:
MENTAL HEALTH AND THE CHURCH
I wrote an article about my mental health journey and how church leaders inappropriately responded, causing further emotional and spiritual harm: My Personal Mental Health Story: When Christians Say Potentially Harmful Words to Someone in a Mental Health Crisis)
Ravaged Faith – “When faith has been used as a weapon, its possibility as a resource for healing is ravaged. That’s just one part of the damage that is caused when sexual abuse is committed by a trusted spiritual leader. Here is how I tried to explain it when a well-intentioned friend sent a long email saying that God would heal and restore me if only I would put my trust and faith in Him.”
There is a pedophile in my family: the tools I gave my children to protect them from harm – This is my personal story of how I have given my children tools to protect them from pedophiles. Parents can start teaching children how to protect themselves from a very young age and remind them continually through the years. I’m still talking to my children. ~ja
How Good Parents Miss Child Sexual Abuse and 5 Questions to Change That Sometimes we ask children the wrong questions. “Perhaps you may want to consider asking these questions the next time that your child is in someone else’s care.”
PSA: Penitent Pedophiles and CrossWay Community Church (SGM)-Graphic : This is an informative article discussing important statistical facts on pedophiles and appropriate ways dealing with pedophilia in the church/ministries.
Together We Heal – “Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.”
Here’s an article by Boz Tchividjian interviewing the founder of this ministry, David Pittman.
Help for Churches/Organizations to prevent child sex abuse:
Dr. Greg Love, attorney and founder/director of Ministry Safe, shares important information on the safety precautions that Christian organizations should have in place in order to protect the children who attend those churches and institutions.”
Doing the Right Things Starts with Knowing the Right Things – JD Greg Love
Love & Norris law firm handles sex abuse cases (founders of Ministry Safe)
Interview with Jerome Elam This is a short interview with Jerome Elam who describes how he was abused as a child in his dysfunctional home and how he went on to be a victim of sex trafficking. Jerome discusses the grooming process very well and helps viewers to understand how pedophiles and sex traffickers find victims.
CLERGY SEX ABUSE
“Why Adult Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Are Not To Blame” By Mark Scheffers
Understanding sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver By Heather Block, distributed by Mennonite Central Committee U.S. This is an excellent 30+ page document about clergy sex abuse and its implications.
WIVES/EX-WIVES/FAMILY MEMBERS OF PEDOPHILES
Has your family been harmed by pedophilia? Please read this post written by an ex-wife of a pedophile. It has been helpful to many.
A Solitary Journey – blog by Brenda, an ex-wife of a pedophile shares her story and offers help and encouragement
Are you looking for a new church? This article from Deb at The Wartburg Watch gives great advice to help you discern.
Some pastors/churches harass people after they leave. Send a certified letter to your former church using this as an example to establish that you have officially left and inform them they do not have permission to contact you, discuss you, etc.
Crushed in Spirit: Words of Hope and Healing
I was going through an especially rough morning and decided to tell my blog readers about it. This was their response. There are some amazing songs, prayers, encouragement here. I hope others will be blessed by this outpouring of love by the body of Christ.
First Amendment Legal Help and Information
Tipping the Scales: Social Media and the Rules of Discovery in Lawsuits: Helpful guidelines for Social Media when involved in lawsuit.
Legal Guide for Bloggers: What to do if you get sued for defamation.
Some spiritual abusers stalk members or former members. This site is very informative: Digital Stalking