Sep
01

SPIRITUAL ABUSE:- THE CONFUSION OF FALSE TEACHING

By

spiritual abuse false teachingI am pleased and excited today to welcome my friend Fi Macleod. Fi is a fellow blogger and an amazing survivor of horrific abuse. Fi has a passion for writing and the subject of spiritual abuse is close to her heart. Please help me welcome Fi and her debut post on Emerging from Broken! As always, please we invite you to post your comments and participate in the discussion. ~ Darlene Ouimet ~ founder of Emerging from Broken

 

 

 

SPIRITUAL ABUSE:- THE CONFUSION OF FALSE TEACHING By Fi MacLeod

There is no aspect of my life which has not been affected by religion, religious and spiritual abuse. I grew up in an abusive religious family full of unattainable expectations. I witnessed religion used to explain abuse of all kinds.

I went to a Catholic school from age 8-11 because my mother was a teacher there. During that time I was taught to be a good Catholic, say my prayers, kneel, genuflect, cross myself, do all the right things, say all the right things. I witnessed nuns slap, beat and mock kids in the name of religion. I was taught only Catholics were the true religion, the Catholic way was the only way. To me the Catholic church was cruel, controlling and about keeping people apart. I could not get my head round that. The abuse I witnessed taught me “no matter how religious you are, no matter how good you are, there will always be something which will mean you’ll never be good enough, there will always be something that will mitigate against your religious goodness“. It taught me God was a fierce old man with a big stick in his hand who looked for every opportunity to beat you. It told me I was a big problem and I would always be a big problem because in God’s eyes I could never and would never, ever, be good enough“.

At home I was taught to be a good Anglican because my family were devoutly protestant. I was told not to believe anything the nuns at school told me. How confusing was that? I didn’t know what or who to believe. I was taught to recite the 10 commandments and know my bible inside out. I was taught“being a good Christian meant respecting your parents and saying nothing bad about them“. I was beaten and told I was beaten because that was how the bible says children are to be treated; “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I was told “bearing suffering silently was the mark of a real Christian” and bad thoughts about it were “sinful in God’s eyes“. I was told my parents were always right because God had placed them in authority over me so I was wrong if I thought they were wrong. I had to learn portions of the bible then recite on demand with punishments for not being word perfect. Religion and the bible were about control and punishment. It taught me “no matter what I did I could never be good enough“. I was always guilty of something so grew up with a strong sense of guilt. Church was a charade of a happy smiley devout Christian family, once home my parents picked everything apart. I wondered what the point of going was if they despised it so much. I did not ‘get’ how they could act so charming and pious at church but as soon as we were in the car coming home they were making fun of everything. I was often selected to read from the bible in church because I was a very good reader. Each time there were violent repercussions at home because my parents always decided I said something wrong or read too fast. In church they were full of “how wonderful it was for our daughter to be picked to read the bible and what an excellent reader our daughter is“. After church it was very different. I could not be good enough. People at church knew I was being abused and did nothing.

I was the black sheep of the family and told I deserved everything that happened. Being good meant keeping quiet, saying nothing about what was happening, “never ever speak outside the family of what went on in the family“. To speak outside the family would be the greatest betrayal. But I was let down and betrayed by my family, the church and the system. Religion was manipulation, control and confusion.

There were people in the church who were kind and seemed to live what they believed. I did not understand why they did and my family didn’t. It was all confusing but made me think there was something in Christianity. I was sent to church youth groups and was taught the bible very differently. I was taught about a loving God not a punishing one. which was confusing but there was something about it that made me keep listening. Until then church and religion had been about cruelty and double standards suddenly I was experiencing something very different. It didn’t tie with what happened at home but resonated deep inside me. I wanted to get confirmed aged 15 but I was told no way. I could not understand why when they were so religious I thought they’d want me to go through that religious rite. I waited till I was 18 and legally an adult and got confirmed then, my parents couldn’t stop me. They showed up for my confirmation full of “how wonderful it was for their daughter to get confirmed“. I was mocked and beaten when we got home and thrown out of the house overnight for daring to defy them and get confirmed. Aged 19 I was beaten up and left for dead by my parents. My childhood showed huge differences between religion and real Christianity. It is religion (man’s teaching) that says you need to go to church and confession. I needed to find out what God had to say to me about it. Who is the church anyway? The real church is not man’s institution, it is men and women who have a living relationship with God that sets them free from the false stuff of man. Only in my 30’s did I realise my beliefs were not my own and I was going to have to drop everything I’d ever believed and start over. I realised my family used the church and religion as cover. They used the church and religion just as they used me.

One thing which has always been important to me as an adult is personal integrity, honesty and transparency, probably because of the hypocrisy, lies and double standards I witnessed as a child. I don’t take anything at face value, I always look deeper to find the truth. A lot of people don’t like that. Many ‘church’ people judged me because of that and my lifelong struggles with depression and non-existent self esteem. I experienced much abuse in many churches from many Christians. I left the established church with its rituals many years ago because of the ritual abuse I survived and how it affects me. I’ve been to all sorts of churches (Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, charismatic) but have always been left cold by the judging, hypocrisy and lack of compassion. When asked personal questions about myself if I found the courage to mention I was abused in childhood and estranged from my family I was told without fail “it’s bad and sinful to talk about such things and it’s in the past, forget it, forgive it, get over it, seek reconciliation with your family, no matter what they did, they’re your family“. That happened many times and caused immense guilt. Just as when I was a child I began to think “maybe I got all this wrong and should just do as they say“. But also as when I was a child I knew they were wrong and I was getting it right. Just like when I was a child, I had to navigate that confusion. It placed huge expectation on me that I could not live up to just like the expectation false abusive religion had placed on me as a child. I was told by many Christians I wasn’t good enough and defective because I could not conform to how they perceived “real Christians” to be.

Too many people judge and point the finger when we aren’t doing life the way they think we should. I had to walk away from ‘church’ and man’s rules to find out for myself what God had to say. I was flabbergasted to realise how much God had been misrepresented to me by the church, my family and all the people who chose to judge me and call me a sinner for not conforming to their sick systems and their sick way of seeing things. I had to step away from all of that. It was the best thing I ever did to see through religious claptrap. It took separating myself from all who tried to make me feel bad. It took stopping doing the right thing for the sake of being seen doing the right thing. It took time to get through the lies, misrepresentation and false teachings of man but there is a way through. I’ve not discarded the Christian beliefs of my childhood but have discovered a very different God to that which was so misrepresented to me. I have discovered a God of immense love and compassion.

Fi MacLeod

Fi’s blog ~ You can fly with Broken Wings

BIO:- Fi Macleod is 45. She lives alone in a seaside town in Devon, in the South West of England. Fi is a survivor of severe ritual abuse and incest by all family members during the first 20 years of her life. She was also abused as part of a paedophile ring run in her grandparents’ house from birth to age 8. It took 25 years for Fi to break silence and report her abusers. There was a police investigation in 2010 which ended with all charges being dropped against her abusers. Fi blogs about aspects of the abuse she endured and her healing journey. Fi has been building trust with a support worker in her local Community Mental Health Team since October 2010 and is just beginning to talk about the sexual abuse within that therapeutic relationship. She is also being supported by a mental health recovery worker and a counsellor. Fi is on a waiting list for specialist group therapy .

Related Posts ~ Profile of a Spiritual Abuser by Pam Witzemann

Defining Spiritual Abuse and its effect on us as children ~ Darlene Ouimet

Spiritual abuse and the Catholic Church by Lynn Tolson

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness

83 Comments

1

Fi, This is beautiful and so affirming of faith in God and the reality of a spiritual, personal, relationship with Him. Jesus described Himself as the door and religion attempts to block that door by keeping the focus off of God and on the weaknesses of human beings. I believed in Jesus first without any religeous guidance. I didn’t try to go to church for ten years after. Then when I did go, I also went through a period of being confused about the difference between having a religion and a relationship with God. Sometimes, I think it is just a part of the journey that every believer encounters. Those who never encounter it have only religion and anything that continually points out every large and small failing in a person is abusive. People not only abuse others with religeon but they abuse themselves. I’m glad to be free of religion and glad that you are too.All that remains is faith in God.

You are a very precise writer and this difficult subject is made clear and easy to understand through what you have shared. Thank you, Fi.

Pam

2

Wow Fi, you have a powerful story and testimony. I’m so sorry for all you have endured and I pray you continue to heal. I was once told by another Christian that I hadn’t completely forgiven my abuser if I didn’t totally allow him back into my life. Continue to break free! Don’t allow others to tell you how you should feel or react. I believe God’s going to use your story to help others. By sharing our stories, we empower other abuse survivors to come forward. Keeping healing sweet one!

Blessings,
Mel
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

3

Hi Pam, thanks for much for your feedback, I so appreciate your comment!

Hi Mel, wow, I just had a look at your blog and really loved it. I’ve found a voice through writing and so much healing too. I agree there is so much empowering and healing that happens when we share our stories. Writing and sharing my story ended my isolation. I’m astounded at the progress I’ve made over the past year since I actively became part of the community here and at Overcoming Sexual Abuse. I realise I’m not alone anymore and that is so powerful! Sometimes the hardest things to break through are the expectations of others! The ‘shoulds’ ‘oughts’ and similar words create so much difficulty and confusion. I’m slowly realising my reactions, my thoughts and my feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s. That helps negate the weight of expectation those words create. Thanks very much for your encouragement!

4

Fi,
I experienced the same pain of spiritual abuse, though my story is much different. I’m still in recovery from those things. I stopped praying, reading the Bible, and going to church. All of those things seemed empty and full of pain. I’d been warned my whole life that if I stopped the “spiritual disciplines” I was in danger of losing my soul. Yet I was strangely at peace. I’ve always loved God, but it’s taken me some time to figure out who he really is. I’m slowly rebuilding our relationship.

Thank you so much for sharing that part of your story. It really touched me.
Hugs, Christina

5

Firstly Fi, I wish I could hug you! I love your courage and your faith. Abuse and control in the name of a church, in a church and by those professing the faith of that church haunt me still. Your words and your journey of faith inspires and encourages me. My family still believes in the code of silence, and that is a boundary that works for me. Bright blessings my dear, so good to see you here on EFB. Blessings to those who commented, nice to see new faces here!

6

Hi Christina

Yes it does take time, I’m still very much in recovery. I’ve not been in church, except for funerals for 4 years. I still struggle with the old tapes of “it is a Christian’s duty to go to church, you are sinning if you don’t go or don’t want to go, no-one can be a Christian and not go to church or not want to go to church” and so on. It’s really hard to get that stuff out of my system.

I’m more at peace now than when I was doing my duty and making it to church every week, being seen to do the right thing. It just tied me up in knots. I have no desire to go to church. I do miss connecting with other Christians. But church for me is a place full of judgement and control. I don’t miss that.

In rebuilding my relationship with God and discovering who he really is I’ve had to create a whole new language to communicate with God and talk about what he means to me. The old ‘religious’ language is so unhelpful. It takes time to sort all this stuff out and I have peace knowing I’m doing it God’s way and not man’s. I still have big problems praying and reading my bible but I know God does not judge or condemn for those issues and I know it will get better in time. Healing is so multi-faceted!

Thanks for your comment!

7

Hi Shanyn

Thanks very much for your virtual hug and encouraging words. This is such a huge issue for so many people and really does such serious damage that takes a lot of navigating through. It’s so good to be here, makes such a different to me! Blessings to you too!

8

Fi…thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and your wisdom. How horrible for those people to treat you this way and for the “church” to look on and do nothing. I am so glad you escaped and are finding your way. Healing is for us all. I also experienced religious abuse and like you had to discover god on my own terms and it was nothing like what the people had told me it was. Your journey has been amazing and you are amazingly courageous. I am also sending virtual hugs:) Writing can be so vital to the journey. Thank you for writing and for sharing your journey this way.

9

I was told God would watch while I was sexually abused in a church and not stop it from happening, b/c I’m an abomination for writing with my left hand and I was also told that b/c I “wasn’t made in God’s image” (b/c I was born half-blind) that’s ALso why he wouldn’t step in to prevent.
And after it happened exactly the way he said it would happen-that he did it and nobody intervened to stop him-I had no reason to doubt it. Besides that, I was less than 7 years old. What am I supposed to think under the circumstances?

10

Vicki,

What you were told was horrible. People will say and do anything that they can, and your story is a really horrible example of that fact. Whatever you thought under those circumstances doesn’t matter in terms of how God sees you. God loves you and will not leave you at the mercy of such destructive people. But yes, how confusing. And at age 7, what could you think?

Books that helped me with the guilt of NOT participating in the church system are Pagan Christianity, Viola, and The Inescapable Love of God, Talbot. Divorce, A Gift of God’s Love, Callison, also fits into this subject.

Pagan Christianity is a timeline of pagan practices that the “church” adopted throughout history. So it is really about paganism. And when you start to see it that way, you don’t feel guilty for NOT continuing to participate. I don’t have the book with me to refer to, but when I say paganism I am talking about traditions and manipulations to which people submit themselves, sort of like psychotropic medications today for the “mentally ill”. Things that you do without questioning or thinking about them.

11

Hello Fi:

What you wrote could be my description and experience of growing up in the Catholic Church..the spiritual side of it. Because we were so brainwashed to believe that “outside the Catholic Church there is no Salvation” it was so much harder to even think of walking away

Talk about control…this post could have not come at a more appropriate time.

Today I got a call. me .. yep me. .got a call from the “Bishops office in Wheeling West Virginia..Wheeling is the main location for the Bishop.. When the person called. they asked “is joy there’ . .Didn’t tell me who they were. .Then I said yes but who are you. .then they went on to explain they were from the “Diocese of Wheeling / Charleston” . .etc etc ..

In all the call they never asked me “how are you? ” “Is there anything we can do for you? Rather they were telling me what I can do ..what I should do.. etc…I told them I am not ready to discuss anything with them.. the call ended.

I Wish I had had the courage to tell them exactly how I feelt. that they are why, partially, I am suffering so much now.

The church .. where all salvation comes from..closed the door in my face two times in my life. When I was 6 years old and so needing someone to help me .. anyone. … and in 2009 when I called for help again..

I am traumatized by the first incident. .find it hard to believe that God even loves me . .their words.. convinced me God did not .. I was told God was displeased with me . I should be ashamed of myself.. taking family outside the home.. if i ever do it again . .God would surely be mad..

IN 2009 when I was being victimized again I called to this church i served for 10 year completely free. and told them I needed help getting away from my abuser . the respons “you got yourself into that mess, you can get yourself out” . .And when I returned beated up and bruised in spirit. I confronted the priest.. to make sure I was not wrong in what i heard. and he laughed at me and said you have to learn to stand on your own two feet.

These two feet went for 10 years helping the church and even helping that man .. watching his cats when he went away and cleaning up after them twice a day. yet . .i was not good enough to be cared for myself.

I have cried so much today . .realizing that they wont let me alone. . not because I am a person . with value but because I gave them free labor I did many things for them : cleaned church every saturday free.. played the organ every sunday..taught the children . .went when people were sick. .As long as I was doing i was good but now that i am broken and needy they dont know me..

When I looked back on what they did to me as a little girl .scared me about God.. made me afraid lest i be sent to hell or struck dead.. I thought. “well that was the old church” surely the new is different..but not that I have seen ..or experienced..

I have been told by my friends ..ex friends .. I am going to hell. . my ‘saintlly family ‘ told me that I am a disgrace that leaving the church is a bad thing to do..

i feel very much alone. .and very vulnerable. am broken . .and really discouraged about many things.. i have done right . .tried to .. and reached out to people and all i got is this big old mess..

I am the black sheep too. I was told I am . but worse than that .is I am the worst mistake in my family’s life. .if i were not born . …in their eyes.. everything would have been so much better. .

This is the catholic family . on the outside and the abusive ones inside the home.

Its hard knowing i wasted so much of my life. most of it.

joy

12

Hi Fi
Thank you so much for guest posting here this week! This post really made me angry. (which is one of the reasons that I LOVE it!) Anger was a very hard thing for me to get in touch with in my healing. I was very mixed up about anger and had some odd thoughts about it. Today I know that anger has been a huge assistant to my healing.

One of the lines that struck my anger bone was the part where you explained that you were told ” “being a good Christian meant respecting your parents and saying nothing bad about them“. I was beaten and told I was beaten because that was how the bible says children are to be treated; “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I was told “bearing suffering silently was the mark of a real Christian” and bad thoughts about it were “sinful in God’s eyes“. I was told my parents were always right because God had placed them in authority over me so I was wrong if I thought they were wrong.”

(when I copied that quote I didn’t actually know where to stop ~ LOL Your whole post is so revealing about how devalued you were as a person and it was so important for me to realize that stuff so that I could validate what happened to me after years of being told that I was “wrong”)

I too had to walk away from the church and MANs teaching in order to find a real relationship with God. I am at peace today, something I never had before. I too was shocked to realize how much false teaching is used to control others. I was shocked to realize that people misrepresent the bible because it suits them to do so. They told me I would go to hell, but for some reason I believed they were exempt from that end… I wonder if they think they are?? LOL

Thank you so much for this post,
Hugs, Darlene

Vicki,
You were lied to. Of course you believed it, but wow, those are horrific lies you were told.
Hugs, Darlene

13

Hi Joy
When ever anyone (person or organization) tells me that the only way is their way, my back goes up. I brace myself because that reminds me of all the abuses that I have dealt with. “The Church” is not where Salvation comes from. That teaching is false. I have never understood how these people think that leading is about bullying instead of leading by example. Who would WANT to follow them? Why did God give people free choice if we have to do what others want or else GOD will disown us? What happened to you is a very good example of how people refuse to let go of their own power and authority in favour od the love/grace and equality (equal value!) for all, that Jesus himself preached to the world.
These were horrible lies and horrible examples that were shown to you.
Hugs, Darlene

14

It really makes me feel sick to read all of the lies and the horrible twisting of God that some of you suffered as children. It makes me wonder how many religeous leaders are believers at all. I think they are belivers in religion as a tool for personal power and I’m apalled at how they use that power on children. I didn’t grow up in church and this is one form of abuse that I never had to deal with. I always thought that if my parents went to church like other kids parents, things would be better. Now I know it probably would have been much worse. It all just makes me sad…

15

Joy,

Do NOT tell these people that they are causing you to suffer…they LOVE to know that stuff and will heap it on more, that is their nature, they are just “blood thirsty” ok, sorry, so much for not giving advice…but I am speaking from my own experiences as well,

I just think that if we would all learn to see the legal implications of this behavior, some real lights would come on. I know that one church harrassed our family for two years before finally excommunicating us. I should have filed a restraining order (retraining order) THEY LOVE TO PLAY WITH YOU and see what you do and how you will react, etc. They will say and do literally anything that they can get away with and love to watch you suffer.

Think of the sexual energy NOT going into constructive channels in the catholic system because the holy (unholy) men running the place have to pervert themselves in order to live in celibacy, and you see all the perversions and abuses towards others that come out.

I have a relative that plays organ in a catholic church and the one priest gets in his face almost every week to “correct” him on his timing of when to start, when to stop, picky crap that doesn’t need to be said. If there was a calendar, a program in print, a webiste, a data base, etc., if there was respect and organization, but no. There is no calendar of who uses the building when of when the baptisms are, etc., so the organists and musican never know when they can practice, etc., and it has been very difficult to employ musicians in that church because of this priest minding everybody else’s business.

16

Fi: thank you, so much, for sharing your story. I’m appalled by how you and Joy (and others) were treated!! I’m glad you have found peace and are healing from all the past abuse. My mother used to always say “Honor your mother and father!” But she never quoted the next verse: “Parents don’t exasperate your children.”

I would never tell anyone to stay with their abuser(s)! I can forgive my abusers, but it’s safer for me to have nothing to do with them anymore. I sometimes get judged because of it, but then there are those who understand and ‘get it’ so I only talk to ‘safe’ people now. In fact, I’ve been encouraged by some not to feel any guilt over leaving my abusive mother. I attend church and want to help others see that sometimes walking away is healthiest because some women are still confused and think they need to be docile doormats, but that’s not the case! We have a RIGHT to be treated with respect and not be abused!! I went to one of the elders in my church recently for counseling and he confirmed that since my mom has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, she will likely never change, but just keep sucking the life out of me with her abuse. He let me know my decision to walk away is OK. That confirmation made feel so good!

Just because someone goes to church doesn’t make them Christ-like any more than walking into a garage makes them a Toyota. My parents just go to church to keep up appearances, but they go back to their old abusive ways as soon as they cross their doorstep and there’s never any change.

I used to have a hard time praying and reading my Bible because I, too, felt God was judgmental and harsh and I didn’t want my flaws pointed out when that’s all my mother did my whole life. But once my distorted perception of God changed, so did my prayer life, etc. AND my image of myself. I learned I am a ‘precious jewel!’ (I didn’t even know that was in the Bible!!) I actually discovered my identity and worth that was stolen in childhood! Now I’m not afraid to pray or read my Bible. God was so patient with me and never made me take any steps I wasn’t ready to take. I hope others will see my newfound joy and want to know this God of love, too. I try not to judge, criticize or say ‘you should blah-blah-blah.’ I just want them to know they are LOVED, UNCONDITIONALLY. Period. So are you.

17

Linda,
Yes, I love what you emphasized, being loved unconditionally, that is God.

18

Hi Susan
Thanks for the virtual hugs. One of the hardest things I’ve had to try to process is how people knew in the church and did nothing. Worse than that those who told me to be good and not make a fuss because they were my parents insinuated that my parents and family could do no wrong so I was wrong to have a problem with what they were doing and with how things were at home. Also, it told me if you say anything you’re not going to be believed so better to keep quiet. To me they are just as culpable as my abusers. I am amazed at my tenacity, hanging in there and not giving up on faith and God in all this. It is amazing, but I’m glad that somehow I did to be able to share my story and give hope to other people. Writing has been a total life-saver for me. Yes healing is for everyone not just a chosen few, yippee for that!!!

Hi Vicki
What terrible lies you were told. It is an abomination that you were told those things. One of the things I’ve wrestled with was why didn’t God step in and stop the abuse? Where was God when I was being abused? and so on. It isn’t that God wouldn’t but couldn’t because he gives people free will, if God stepped in and intervened every time someone did something bad it would take away their free will. All those lies were about was keeping you confused and feeling bad about yourself. All really horrible stuff and exactly what else could you think at age 7? It takes time to sort through such painful confusion and discover the truth.

Hi Joy
How terrible that they weren’t the slightest big concerned about your welfare just trying to manipulate, guilt trip and control you. I’m glad you’re beginning to see the lies for what they are and I hope that in time you’ll be able to start over and find there is indeed life and spirituality beyond the boundaries of the church and the false teaching and control of man.

Hi Darlene
It is a privilege to be guest posting this week, it really is!
I find it very hard to be angry and process anger. I was taught so much that the anger which was acceptable was “righteous anger.” But no-one ever explained to me what “righteous anger” was. The violence in the home taught me that when people were angry they hit out so anger was to be feared. I of course was not allowed my own feelings so had to stuff all my feelings deep inside of me including anger. It is frightening to realise how much anger and rage I have stuffed inside of me. It is hard for me to look at how totally devalued I was and how they systematically and deliberately set out to destroy me but it’s so validating for you to state it. So thank you! I wasn’t wrong, they were. Wow, that kind of turns things on their head somewhat! It’s no wonder really that I struggle to hear anything about my value as a human being. Thanks again!!

Hi Kate, many thanks for your great comments and for being part of this discussion!

Hi Karen
I had “honour your father and your mother” thrown at me and beaten into me so many times. It is a terrible scripture for me, one that is only full of terrible memories connected to it. Yes I never knew it had that 2nd part to it and my abusers certainly made no mention of it. Surprise, surprise!! It would not have helped their cause at all! As far as I am concerned honour is something which is earned. Nothing they ever did was honourable therefore I do not believe I am not expected to give honour where honour is not due.
I am afraid to read certain parts of the bible, although I know God now and know he is safe and not to be feared, all that stuff is so deeply ingrained in me. My parents continue to go to church to keep up appearances and continue to use the church for their own ends.
I am so glad that God is so patient and understanding with me. I know I am loved unconditionally. But there are still parts of me that are scared there are going to be unspoken conditions which will be unattainable for me. Healing is a complex process. But slowly that love is healing me and finding its way deeper into those very damaged parts of me. I am secure in my relationship with God now but have a long way to go in trusting him and letting him and his love in.

19

Fi, for me my God is why I am alive today. He is not the God that was represented to me by my family either. I am so glad that the hope of love was still there inside and the strength doesn’t come from us because I would have caved in long ago. I am proud to know you and have enormous respect for the courage and perserverance you have used to face life and the journey back from horrific abuse. Keep telling the world Fi, we can give away the never-ending hope to others that we possess and light up a life with it.

20

Hi Linda

I’ve often wondered how on earth I survived. I often wonder how I keep going. I know the answer to both those questions is the strength God has given me. And also the strength he inherently built into me and into my character. I also wonder how it was that I didn’t give up on God completely. That is a miracle all of it’s own.

It wasn’t that long ago I was just existing without hope of things ever being different. Now I have hope that healing is possible. And if I can give people hope that hope is possible, which is where I’m at, then that’s a precious gift. Hope makes so much possible! Thank you so much for your encouragement.

21

HI Darlene

Its horrible the lies and you know they are still after me . I don’t know if
they called on their own volition but the “bishops office” dioces of wheeling
charleston called me yesterday to ask me questions.. I froze. because
never in all my years with the church did anyone from way up there
even notice me .Now they are wanting to know if I would continue helping.
I am not going back there.

The call so shook me up that now on the second day ..am still upset
about it.

I wonder do they call everyone to try to get them back to the church

I can see and almost believe that..mom called up the diocese to give
them a piece of her mind for letting me leave the church.. She had
the pastor over here now the bishop.

It just makes me more resolved to stay away ..

They didnt say ‘How are you .. they said “is this joy?” and proceeded
to ask me questions.. about my helping the church. THey didnt ask
if they can help me. because I surely could use some help . But I didnt
dare tell them that. I simply told htem I was not ready to talk with them.
and bid them farewell.

THe church never offered to help me in my brokenness: not as a child
not as an adult. I am merely free labor and a church filler.

I know they want me to go play the organ and teach and clean the church
but I have needs to and they never once asked me how I was .

JOy

22

Fi:

That is what I said. I can’t imagine why of all the many people they have in their diocese they are wanting me to go back to that church. .I kinda know why ..because the church needs to be cleaned. or because mom told them they should get me back into the church. I can see her writing a long letter..as has been her custom in every thing I ever tried to do.

Joy

23

Kate

I use to play the organ weekly..it’s the most unrewarding thing to do if you are a catholic and I cleaned the church weekly .. and cleaned the pastor’s cat box he had cats and taught on sundays and was called the DRE . and so yes they want me to get my butt back where i belong .this could be serious for me. disobeying the laws of the church.!

I didnt tell them they upset me but.. after i hung up the phone i cried. Everyone from that place keeps hounding me. would that they
would stop to ask how I am surviving. .THey never once offered any kind of support for 2009 which is still so vivid in my mind.

Because they believe . .am suppose to offer it all up . suffer in silence and not talk of what happened. .I am suppose to be a saint. and be quiet.. I tried so hard all my life to be quiet about my sufferings and all it did was make me become more and more victimized.

Just when i think am healing . .. some past memory comes knocking on my door or ringing my telephone. I put a piece of tape on my phone saying dont pick up. I have to let everything go to vm and thats a sad way to live.

Joy

24

Hi Joy
I am glad to read that you are coming out of the fog; you have noticed that they didn’t inquire of YOU as a person. They are only interested in what you can do for them or in you as a “number” or another “body” That is excellent. Looking back, I realized how often that happened to me. I was angry and then realized that I was very hurt, but that realizing it was the truth that I needed to realize. NO ONE should be treated like they don’t count. No one should be regarded the way they are regarding (not regarding) you.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

25

Hi Darlene

Its such a hard thing but this is pretty much how everyone has treated me lately. I am not a person .just someone that can meet the needs of others. who cares if Joy is broken or needy.. ..I am wanting to hide away in a place where I can heal and be away from the nonsense..I get there in my morning and evening meditation..in my safe place..and whenever else but I really have to get away from here.. everywhere I go everyone is minding my business.. but only in as much it meets their needs or they can make me feel less than them ..bad .. sinful and hell bound.. all this talk from the diocese has me shaken up and in my memories of the past.. .

I remember reading stories about missionairies and the very first they did before talking about God was see that the basic needs of the people were met..ONce they were assured these needs were met then they talked of god and heaven and etc..

Seems it is a numbers game. and I am upset that i am merely a statistic to make their church appear nice.

Thank you Darlene.. for your words.. I don’t know if I am angry as much as hurt.. it just makes me “Feel” so worthless in their eyes..

I was abandoned by church friends..who I helped in so many ways for 10 years..when I backed away to heal. I lost everything. but I wont give up what i need to heal just to have them back no matter how empty and lonely my life is.

joy

26

Darlene

ps. I need to clarify..I meant i have no friends here in 3d. I have friends here on-line ..for which I am truly grateful. T is teaching me not to group . .people all in my “everyone” ad “no one ” statements.so no one here in 3d.. understands me.. and those who are approaching me is merely to make the numbers look better in their situation. >. I am not a number or a bank account..

((hugs))

joy

27

Hi Joy, it is horrible when people treat us like this. It is really painful when we begin the see the truth for what it is, but also very liberating and the beginning of a new future!

28

Fi

Its true and right now so many things are hitting me.. it is all overwhelming and scary . just wish sometimes the people who are nosey would give me space to heal instead of reopening my wounds..

I am overwhelmed by things..that is the best way to describe my state of being. .Have lawyers bothering me. .church people.. bishop’s office.. ex friends trying to convince me that i am being mislead.. .. I want to find the off button .. or take out the batteries and stop all the nonsense so i can breathe and heal myself.

Joy

29

Joy, I want them to leave you alone too. What they are doing is awful. No repspect.

30

Pam,

it makes no sense..they never once called me in all the time I was active there..never said “hey you are sure helping out we apppreciate you” .not once and I never made a penny for anything I did. it was all free.. and cannot complain as we do things for love and love alone but would have been nice to have heard a thanks…. Now they call me just to ask if I will go back etc.. nonsense.. they dont want me they want what i can do.

I should send them a bucket of tears.

Joy

31

Joy, You served the church out of love but these people have no love to give, apparently. They certainly didn’t appreciate what they had. If all they want from people is for them to be slaves, they are missing a huge part of what makes life wonderful. It does make sense when you begin to understand that they have no understanding of love. My family treated me the way your church treats you. My family also used God to try to make me feel guilty and get back in line so that I would continue to meet their physical needs by serving them and their emotional needs by allowing them to control me and look up to them as being superior to me. It looks like that it what is happening to you too.

You are sweet, a bucket of something else comes into my mind with the admonition that they are full of what I’d fill the bucket with…sorry, it makes me mad and I’m venting. God is my comfort, joy, and strength and I hate it when people do these things in His name. Jesus said they were sons of the devil and I believe that is true.

I’m going to pray for some good people to come into your life. You will have new friends and new family one day, Joy. Love yourself and get well and take it all one step at a time. What else can any of us do?

Love,
Pam

32

Yes Joy, I wish they’d let go and let live but some people can’t seem to do that, they have to be sticking their noses in other’s people’s lives for reasons known only to themselves. I hope all this nonsense ends soon and that they don’t wear you down with it all. They want you where they can control you. When I left my last church it was clear the leadership wanted my skills but didn’t want me and all that came with me. And I wasn’t going to stick around in that sort of situation. It’s hard and lonely but ultimately liberating and healing to come out from under all that stuff.

33

@Pam..

My family is probably right behind what is going on right now.. my mom is so vindictive and hateful that all my life she has tried to stop anything I ever tried to do. that is why I am so very far away . .trying to live my life. but i have seen distance is no problem. for her. She wants me in misery ..I am so tempted to change my name so I cannot be found any more. .

Slave is the right word but seems I was able to fit that role many times because am afraid to say “no” to people; afraid of what would happen or afraid to hurt peoples feeling.

This time, though, I am not giving in.I am not going back.. This has all my emotions exposed and wounds reopened..but I will not give in no matter how I feel. I keep hoping as much as a broken person can hope..

Thank you for your continued support.

Love you too :

Joy
====

@Fi

I must “confess” there nagging is doing something to me but not in any way making me want to go back. I am just so so shocked that they would bother to call me.

Thanks for your advice and support..

Joy

34

Joy, I think you are starting to see them as they really are. That happened to me when I confronted my family. As long as I never confronted it, I could tell myself that they meant well etc. but when I did confront the truth about them emmerged and I couldn’t lie to myself about them any more. Abusive people have to keep those they “love” (by their definition)beat down and beneath them. They are really so dependent upon the people they abuse and use. I think they want to keep us thinking we are dependent upon them and if we are beat down we won’t notice how needy and dependent they are on us. You are much more likely to make it alone without them than they are to make it alone without you. Manipulating abusers are the weakest, most dependent people on earth and they are terrified of being all alone.

Hang in there, you are doing the right thing and good for you for sticking to your guns.

Love,
Pam

35

I don’t go to church anymore, but people in my life keep trying-and succeeding more than I’d like-to make me feel guilty that I don’t go to church. I still don’t understand why they think you have to go to a church building. When I tell them I do church at home, they scoff at me. Not boldly scoffing, but I get the picture that they’re unhappy at my decision.
They were ALso unhappy when I decided to become a Universal Unitarian. They told me that was an “anything goes” religion and were upset b/c my Lesbian friend goes there. She’s a minister, and the people at my former church think God looks at her as “an abomination.”
I agree with her though. It’s as simple as what she said. If God didn’t want gay people, he would have made everyone straight. So what’s their problem?
My question exactly. I’m not a lesbian, everyone always thinks I am when they hear me talk like that about lesbians. I lived in California, but even that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be tolerant.
I was also told there’s such a thing as being “too tolerant.” I don’t think I’m too tolerant. I’m usually not tolerant enough. You have to be tolerant before you can forgive someone, and I can’t forgive anybody yet. I’ve wished to be Amish a lot, b/c they were able to forgive that guy who killed all those kids at the Amish school. But that’s not who I am yet. I’m aFRAID it’s NEVer going to be me.
But it’s a hell of a lot easier to be okay with a lesbian, who isn’t even hurting you, than it is to forgive people who abused me or someone I care about.

36

Hi Vicki

Thanks for your comment. Many Christians say it is unbiblical to not go to church because of the scripture that says “do not stop meeting together” or words to that effect. I’ve had that one thrown at me ad nauseum as have other people I know. Much of what goes on in many churches is very unbiblical but is more about “that’s how we’ve always done it” etc. I wish I could go to church but church creates more problems for me than it solves.

I know from experience that ‘the church’ is not a friendly or accepting place if you are not straight, middle class, married, kids, house, employed and car. And particularly so if you have very real issues with your gender, sexuality, mental health, in fact anything that doesn’t fit the ‘norm’ of what a Christian should look like according to their biblical understanding. The church can be a mine field.

I am just glad that God looks at the heart of someone, not just the trappings.

37

Pam

IF i tried any more to confront them they would end up hurting me more..
that is..my famly. .And the church ..i confronted in the person of the pastor.
at least for the 2009 plea for help. .and he laughed and said . .you need
to stand on your own two feet..

But how can one if one is trapped..with no way out and the only way out
was the church you thought would finally help you after so many years
of free .service..

My heart breaks over all this and to think that after not wanting to help me
in 2009 they are calling me to help ..

I dont want to go anywhere near a church right now. but that doesn’t mean
I don’t love God or believe in living a life that is fair, just and pleasing ..

I dont want to be lied to any more. I am so easily led astray..and so easy
to manipulate.. but somehow I have to be strong enough to keep not
giving in.. I hope i can stay strong. i

Joy

38

Joy, I didn’t mean you should physically confront them. I don’t even mean that you should do what I do. I just was sharing my circumstance and maybe there is something helpful for you in my experience. I confronted my family mostly through the mail. I had to put distance between us to protect myself from falling back into the patterns they expect of me. What I was trying to express was that when we start looking for the truth, we start to see them for what they really are. I made excuses for how my family, especially my sister, treated me all of my life. It all came to a head and I couldn’t make excuses for them anymore. I had to accept the truth, and it hurt, it still hurts sometimes but I’m better off for having done it. I know it isn’t possible for me to keep them in my life and still get well. They made me sick and they want to keep me sick and in service to them.

There are times when I hear you confronting and accepting that same kind of truth and that is what I was drawing a parallel with. I seem to get people confused lately, sorry.

It’s okay not to want to go near a church.I believe God loves you where ever you are. I believe that you are beginning to stand on your own two feet. We’re all kind of wobbly when we first begin to stand and then walk. Your legs will get stronger and in the meantime, if you fall, that’s to be expected. Just keep getting back up.If you learn to serve Joy the way you have served others, you’ll do well. I think you are doing well with what you have to do. Just being Joy and dealing with what Joy has to deal with right this moment is enough. I’ve found that the only way to get past the pain is to allow myself to feel it and move through it to the other side. The short cuts that I take to circumvent the process only work in the short term and give me bigger problems down the road. Hang in there, honey.

Pam

39

Dear Pam..

I was not hurt.. was just letting you know I tried to talk to them. ..although confronting.. may not be the word for my approach as I am still so afraid.

I say my feelings.. and then run because am afraid to hear bad things any more.

I appreciate your kindness and saw nothing wrong with what you said ..you are so kind hearted and caring..thank you for caring enough to talk to me..

I don’t have many people to talk or write to.

I will keep trying to make my way. I have a wonderful T..and people here on EMB.. thank you Pam for all your kindly and good advice..

hugs

Joy

40

Confrontation looks different to me today;
For instance, you may get strong enough to say things like “you didn’t even ask me how I am. You didn’t even ask me if there was anything that you could do for me. The last time I asked for help you told me that I needed to stand on my own two feet. The chruch doesn’t care about me and I am better off without it” I have never had one person keep bugging me/judgeing or even trying to communicate with me when I say things like this. They put their pathetic tails between their legs and run off. It took me a long time to get to this point. It is the truth that makes people think. They don’t want to think though, so they leave me alone now. I am a reminder to them that the way they live is disfunctional. With the church people I held a mirror up to the way that they model love. Little statements like that make them look at themselves and they don’t want to. I am free and they are still stuck… so I would rather be me.
Hugs, Darlene

41

Hi Darlene

In my talking with the pastor that day I pointed out many things.. and it seemed to fall on deaf ears..I was suppose to serve and not think about myself..That is pretty much what was said.. :to give and not count the cost..

If I love God am not suppose to expect anything in return..so I was wrong to seek help . ..so I was told

I put everything on the table. but in my scared way.. and though it was put imperfectly. they know how i feel..

Am still hurting that i matter nothing to them..just want me to fill a hole. or vacancy.

Joy

42

Hi Joy,
It does fall on deaf ears… but I feel good that I got to say it anyway. The thing that I keep going back to in a situation like that is that THEY are not living by the expectations that they communicate to you. They are teaching/preaching at you something they themselves don’t follow. It DOES hurt that they regard you this way! Dang right that hurts!
Hugs, Darlene

43

Hi Darlene

They are pushing me to an emotion I don’t like to have and that is anger.. I am getting very close to that point.. I am human and want to be respected and given the same freedom everyone in America has. .the freedom to worship or not to worship how one chooses.

I am not doing evil things. .am just trying to heal.

Yes its hurting me too much…

Hugs back 🙂

Joy

44

Hi Joy

On one hand it doesn’t matter that it falls on deaf ears because it’s what it does to you to speak out that really matters, that empowering and validating that’s goes along with the sheer terror of speaking out and expressing yourself.

It is so painful to not be respected or heard. It’s like ‘you’ as ‘you’ is invisible to these people. Only the ‘you’ that they want around is the one they see. And that’s really horrible. I’ve been there and had to cut my losses and walk away. I know how empty and lost it left me feeling. I wrote the pastor a strongly worded letter as my way of confronting him.

Anger is a good emotion to have. It is a valid and healthy response to the kind of disrespect and invalidation you’re experiencing.

It’s taken me a long time to recognise anger, to accept anger, to not fear anger, I’ve still got a long way to go with anger.

It’s good and healthy to get angry, it’s probably something you weren’t allowed to be as a kid which is probably why it feels so alien to you. Anger can be healing if we use it constructively.

It’s good that you recognise the anger is there.

Yeah it hurts and probably feels like it’s taking you way beyond what you can take. You probably don’t realise it but you’re doing great Joy and responding to this situation in a healthy constructive way. You are a human with valid needs and valid feelings. And you deserve to be around people who recognise those needs and feelings and who recognise you and your value.

45

Dear Mr.Man of God

Yes, you are trying to wear me down
and make me feel bad inside
you feel that you deserve to know everything
that I choose to hide
but its not for the confessional
you had your chance you see
when I was a little girl remember
you shut the door on me.

now you are begging me to come back
to that “Holy place”
yet in 2009 when I needed help
you treated me like a disgrace
how can you even try to explain
the gospel that you preach
when you never put into practice
any of the things you teach.

There are so many people outside
knocking on your door
But your rules and regulations
have no room for any more
You preach and teach of love and grace
but only seem to hurt
I understand you how you want me to feel :
you want me to feel like dirt

joy

46

Joy, Dittos to everything Fi said. You are doing great and that is a great, truth facing, poem.Just remember that you aren’t what they want you to be. And Fi is right, you deserve to have people in your life who love and value you. It is better to be alone than have people who don’t value you controlling you.

Love,
Pam

47

Hi Fi :

I can’t even believe I am feeling the emotion of anger.. usually I feel hurt. .humbled.. upset .. but anger .. is something I wouldn’t allow ..as it had been drilled into me as something deadly, sinful ..un-right.

I can’t help it, though, since I am honestly not bothering anyone to deserve any attention that I am getting now from them..

The only thing I can think of is the holidays ..all the work I use to do .. ..They are not mentioning anything about my person.. other than I need to confess.

It’s a mortal sin in the catholic religion not to go to church on Sunday so i am in real bad mortal sin.. 🙁

I do feel very overwhelmed..but feelings are natural . .I have been told..

Thank you for helping and caring:

Joy

48

Dear Pam

Thank you for your affirming words..I appreciate..people who really care.. I am so grateful to everyone here..
THank you Pam..

Love you

Joy

49

Joy, It makes me happy to hear you say that you are feeling angry. That means all the bad feelings are starting to flow outward to the people who did the wrong instead of being turned inward. That was a huge step for me. For awhile though, I had too much anger and didn’t understand where it came from. I’m glad you are in therapy. I wasn’t and I regret the times that my anger was misdirected and hurt someone who was innocent; but still getting angry at someone besides myself was the first step in starting to treat myself better.

50

Dear Fi; I am touched by your candid writing. I have wanted to expose these same religious abuses for many years and am just slowly purging them now. My life with a raging, religiously addicted Mother was hell to be around. So many similarities in my childhood. Knowing the books of the Bible backwards and forwards, the Beatitudes,The Apostles Creed, ,The Ten Commandments Christian songs,prayers and many other so called ”good boy” acts were forced upon me. Anything to do with sex was a complete violation of Christianity.
I went thru my own excorcisim during my adult years. To-day I choose not to attend any organized Religion but am on a Spiritual path with a Creator of my own understanding and not one that was chosen for me. Thankyou for your bravery,honesty and strong will to make a difference for you and others who want to break the chains of ”RELIGIOUS ABUSE”……….CAL

51

Hi Calvin

Thank you for your kind comment. I’m touched that my writing so resonated with you. I’m so happy you’ve managed to navigate your way through this religious abuse maze. By sharing and being real we help each other break those chains and realise things can be different. I wish you well on your journey, thanks again!!

52

Hi Pam..

I don’t know how I feel about “feeling” some anger.. Its not strong though
just bit pestered and upset that people don’t care enough about me as
a person. Their actions only continues to invalidate and make me feel
less than everyone else..

You expect some imperfections from people but people who are in high
places who take time to call you and never even think to ask you how
you are doing when you are at the bottom of a dark pit says they are
merely interested in how they look not how their people feel or are.

It has been a bitter weekend and am trying to deal with emotions over
their call and some fragments of my sister’s call from two weeks ago.
As well as deal with a crazy lawyer and wounds being opened that
were created in 2009. am a mess and if I need anything it’s understanding
and encouragement.not a laundry list of more things to do.. I find it
hard to focus and concentrate enough for what I must do now.

THank you Pam.. for all your words.. I don’t lash out . i lash in. i would
sooner hurt myself than someone else. but I dont do either.

hugs

Joy

53

Sweetie, I lashed inward for a very long time, also. I did hurt myself very badly and much worse than anyone else who abused me. What they think of you isn’t the truth about who you are. It’s more than okay to be a bit bugged.That is the beginning of allowing your anger to flow outward to the place where the blame actually fits. No one should ever take inappropriate actions because of anger but turning it in on ourselves in also inappropriate. A verse in the Bible says,”be angry and sin not” and it has my teeth marks all through it. It is okay to be angry, it is natural, normal, and a God given emotion. It is meant for self defense and when I turned it in on myself, it was as bad of a sin as it would have been if I caused someone physical harm because of my anger. I learned not to fight against my anger but to allow myself to feel it while concentrating on how to purpose it. Human wrath (violent out of control anger)is never good but anger purposed for self-defense is very good. Jesus had this kind of anger also. If it is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!

I hope people leave you alone and allow you to heal but if they don’t a little of that good anger for self-defense might just be the ticket! That is, when you are ready…you are fine as you are and even if you can’t see it, I read it in your posts every day. You are getting stronger!

Pam

54

I cannot get over how the church refused yet again to help me in 2009. . How it put into my heart a dagger again . .when I cried out for help.. I was already aware of all the scandal in the church and was always so quick to excuse all the things. .Saying ” oh it’s divine but the members are human” .. Always faithful and loyal giving my very last tear for the faith..but when I cried out ..I was not heard. not once but twice .. I found the church shutting the door in my face.. I cry over and over and over. .I gave most the years of my life. to this institution.. why was i not worth enough to save me from my employer and his threats ..and his goons.. Why was i not worth enough as a little child to be heard when i was being beat ..sexually abused.. nearly killed.. I am not able to get beyond this rejection by the church I had been so loyal to.. It is a thorn in my flesh.. and a sorrow forever etched into my soul.. I was not valued by the church who clothed me in Christ.. Was not valued by the church who spoke for God and in whom I was told was the only path to God. Rejected once was bad but twice intensely traumatizing . Can anyone even begin to imagine .. what terrible suffering I know realizing I spent all my for the church and it was not willing to save my life ..when I cried out.. I Feel so totally let down and abandoned. I feel so scarred ..so pierced to the very core of my being.. I am hoping through therapy that this and many other things can be resolved but this keeps coming up over and over and over. .My whole life was spent for this belief system.. now am crippled by the 2nd act of abandonment I got from it.. I write and write trying to get all the hurt and confusion out but it continues to stream out of my eyes and soul. .why was I not worthy of help??

joy

55

Joy, Yes, you were worthy and your church is in the wrong. There was a time in my life when I also felt abandoned by my church and felt that I had wasted my time, my money, and my prayers. However, now I see that I was also wrong in putting my faith in my church. I should only put my faith in God and give to others while expecting nothing in return. I know we are from different backgrounds and define the word ‘church’ very differently. I view the church as a called out company of believers, as the body of Christ with Jesus as the head of that body. For me the church is a living organism made up of true believers with nonbelievers, also in their midst. I also view all believers in Jesus as saints for they have been set apart,sanctified, from the rest of the world by believing in Jesus. There are no official priests that act as a go between. I believe in the priesthood of every believer who can go directly to God through Jesus. I’m not trying to change you by telling you these things but I want you to know that there is a different way to view all of this. From my viewpoint, I doubt that those who hurt you truly believe in Jesus. It seems they believe more in their institution and will do anything to preserve its image, even in turning away a child who is being abused and needs help. Even in trying to maintain control over the woman that child has grown up to be and hopefully, keep her quiet about the abuse by her mother who is prominent in the church and also keep her quiet about how the church failed to help her as an abused child. Non-believers can’t speak for God no matter what religious position they hold. None of us can speak with the authority of God over another person’s life. Setting aside all of the religious pretense, what they all did to you was illegal. They all should face charges for failing to help a child they had reason to suspect was being abused. None of them have any special powers because of their position within a religious institution. They are just people who committed crimes against you and God hates their actions. Anyone who truly loves God hates what was done to you, also.Don’t give these criminals more power than they deserve by equating anything they do as being willed by God. Anyone who harms a child and then attempts to set themselves between that child and God will have to answer to God for what they have done. The Bible strongly condemns anyone who would keep a child from God. I’ve written a lot of words here and I don’t know if they help but I want you to know that God is on your side in this and not on theirs. God cares very little for the institutions of religion. He cares a great deal for you and for all who have been hurt and abused by those who make their living running those institutions. I pray that God will heal your heart and mind and end your confusion. I hope you begin to have relief soon.I hope I don’t sound like I’m trying to tell you what to believe. When I read some of the things you write, I ache to give you the answers I’ve found but I know I can’t do that no matter how many words I write. We all have to find our own answers as each of us looks to God for ourselves. I just hope that soon you will feel anger towards your abusers and not towards yourself. I hope you will view them as the criminals that they are and not as anyone who lives their lives for God. You weren’t the one in the wrong and you aren’t the one who is lacking. Your abusers and those who enabled your abusers are.
Love,
Pam

56

Hi Joy

The hurt, pain and confusion keeps coming up because the wounds from the trauma and betrayal caused by that spiritual abuse still need healing. It will keep coming up until those wounds heal. It is very hard and very painful to realise that all the things you’ve been indoctrinated to believe all your life are false. It is really horrible to realise that all you’ve given your life for was based on lies.

The real church is not the building nor is it the institution that you’ve been brought up to believe in. That is about religion. There are no answers in religion because religion is not Christianity. Real ‘church’ is about people not buildings or man’s institutions but about Christians, people who live in relationship with God who may or may not go to church. ‘The church’ as you understand it and believe it to be does not hold the answers, only God does. ‘The church’ as man’s institution claims to speak for God and yet speaks and behaves in ways that are not godly because it’s all about man and man’s interpretation of things. The ‘church’ as you know it is not divine, it is man’s institution. ‘The church’ is not the way to God. ‘The church’ does not and cannot clothe you in Christ, only God can do that. ‘The church’ cannot save anyone. ‘The church’ as it is intended to operate is about people who are in relationship with God and who are living for God getting together to worship God and support each other. It is not about buildings, institutions or man’s belief systems (theology). You don’t need a priest to communicate with God – you can go directly to God yourself. It is hard to walk away from all you’ve been brought up to believe in, but it is possible to do that and get past the hurt, confusion and false teaching of man.

How ‘the church’ and that institution’s employees behaved towards you was massively abusive and very wrong. It was not about you but about preserving the institution at all costs, it was about their agendas and warped belief systems. It was about control and manipulation. It was never about you but about them.

It was a huge breakthrough for me when I realised that abuse is never about the person being abused but is ALWAYS about the person/s doing the abusing.

You were betrayed, let down and abandoned as a child and later as an adult by men and an institution who had no understanding of the issues you were facing and who had no real answers because of that and because of what they believed. God hated what they did to you. The hurt and confusion will keep coming to the surface until it’s healed. God will help you heal as you seek Him for yourself and find comfort in God’s love and compassion and find answers straight from God’s heart to yours. You were not valued by ‘the church’ and the men in that institution of man but you are highly valued by God.

I too was hurt, let down and betrayed by ‘the church’. ‘The church’ turned a blind eye to the abuse people in that institution knew I was experiencing. I was also brought up to believe in ‘the church’ and its power to save me. It took me a long time to realise how wrong this teaching was and that ‘the church’ has no power to save and I didn’t need priests but could go direct to God myself.

It will take as long as it takes for you to heal from all this spiritual abuse. There are no hard and fast rules about healing, it doesn’t matter how much you have to write and talk about it until it heals. You are not at fault for having to deal with all this hurt and confusion, the only people at fault are those who caused it.

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HI Pam

Thank you for your kind words.. I use to believe lots of things you did but am coming to see a different way ..I respect everyone’s choice, as I always have, of religion or non-religion.

I admire you for your convictions. and am so grateful for your constant support and kind words towards me..

I am right now in a discovery mode..trying to figure out what it s good for me on my spiritual journey. Before thing happened I went daily to Church. I read scripture daily and prayed the liturgy of the hours 3 times a day.. So I understand well who Jesus and God and the saints are. I need to find out who I am now so I can better relate to them and all the inspiring people who have shaped the hearts of so many people..

Once I a unbroken and out of shock. .I will find my way to the Eternal Spirit.. I know that even in my brokenness I am pleasing to God . .as God sees me trying to do the right thing..

Much love

Joy

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Dear Fi:

I do believe all you say and am convinced in my heart that no walls can hold God inside.. God is everywhere. .I so believe and even in us and around us.. so one doesn’t have to go far to find God. I don’t want to call God “he” as I believe GOd is Spirit.. and gender is something that applies to mortals and not to spirits.. but I could be totally wrong .. When I see God I can ask that . but by then it won’t matter..

I find the wounds I am trying to be healed of so very deep and painful.. it’s deeper than any cut I have known and I have known many .. Hurts longer than any broken bone.. as there is no way to set it and forget it. .and is harder to heal than any scar because. it’s not seen by the eye . .I suppose only inasmuch as I expose what is hurting in me will I be healed.

Doing that: exposing of my wounds is another hurdle since in my home I was not allowed to speak of hurts and the churced taught you to suffer them in silence..

I had no one to tell me its ok to cry or feel or make known the brokenness .. NOw I have a whole bundle of hurt and somehow I have to get them healed.. I know my T is here for me and its my job to open up and some how just say .everything..

I am shy on top of it all and maybe some don’t believe this but hearing myself speak scares me even. I have always been very quiet.. Never spoke very loud.. so when someone says speak up . it’s a scary feeling.

I feel totally abandoned.. but I do have my therapist and my online friends. but that abandonment is still a scar inside me. I just wish I could stop hurting from it.. but it is no small thing. there is so much behind the church hurt. I spent my entire life giving .. and because I gave freely was told the church would also give freely. but the church did not. .I was abandoned by family, by friends, by the church and even by people who said they were professionals..

I feel I am getting stronger but know i have to let go of somethings so that I can be healed entirely.

I thank you Fi and it brings me comfort knowing someone understands exactly what I have been through and won’t say “than could never have happened” The person who makes little of what happened to me only adds salt to my already wounded soul.

joy

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Joy, I guess, at my age, if I hadn’t found some answers and formed a few convictions, I would have wasted a good deal of my life. I didn’t share what I believe about the church, saints, and priests in an effort to give you my answers or force my convictions upon you. I did want you to see that those words have different definitions to people of other faith traditions. There are many who believe in Jesus and never place themselves under the kind of hierarchy that you were raised under. That causes me to see the people who hurt you not as anyone special but as criminals who hurt you as a child and continue to hurt you as an adult in an effort to cover their crimes against you.

It hurts to be abandoned. I know that pain well. I also know that whenever I put too much faith in another, I am setting myself up to be let down. That’s where my relationship with God comes in. I’ve never known another human being that didn’t let me down, on some level, eventually. People are imperfect and need forgivness and love so I try to love people while putting my faith in God. People who commit crimes also need to be held accountable. If they aren’t, they seldom learn to do any better. Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do for someone who committed a crime against us is hold them accountable.

I wish I could make you stop hurting. I know I can’t but I do support you in speaking out about what happened to you and your rightfulness in doing so. Some very serious commitments were made to you and all of them have been broken. Even though I was never a Catholic, I do know how that feels and how hard it is to trust again. Maybe, that is why I only give all of my trust to God. I can count the people I trust on one hand and I still have fingers left over. Maybe that isn’t good but it is safer. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be free of your pain. You deserve to have a new life that belongs to you. You desrve friends and family that respect you. Those are the things I wish for you. I believe that these things will be yours in the future.

Pam

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Hi Pam..

THank you again for reaching out..I think being let down so many times does indeed put a permanent sense of distrust for people or at least towards people with power. I was thinking alot this weekend about things . .how afraid I am . .I got to asking myself why am I so afraid.. and really the one reason I come up with is because everyone who has been in a professional position . who had the power to help me. and should have .. turned their backs on me .. left me. .helpless and alone. . I do not fear children or the elderly.. I fear and distrust people who are in power.. or are in power positions. who wear some label of service..

I find it hard to trust that those who say they are degreed will do what they were trained to do.. It’s sad but I have to get over all the memories every time I talk to a professional. .All I can hear is the let downs..whenever I approach them

There are so many things that trigger me. I know I am in so much need of healing. .I am hoping and asking people to pray for me that I don’t be afraid to open up as much as needed to be healed. .that I have the grace to trust just one person at least. and that is my T.. I know I trust her .but I want to trust even more..

I lost most of my friends..but I do have a few but they are onlne friends. My friends here are older.. they are senior citizens and I see them rarely. my landlord, her twin sister, her husband.

O well.. right now I just see myself as in i.c. u. and in healing so cannot have every one over. .that is what I tell myself so i dont cry over the abandonment of my friends..

Hope you are having a nice day.

(( hugs )) if ok

Joy

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Hi Joy

You have no reason to trust and every reason not to trust. It takes time to build trust and feel safe within the therapeutic relationship. It took me 9-10 months of gradually deepening my trust in her till I felt safe enough with my CPN to begin to talk about the abuse. I began working with ‘K’ last October and have only been able to talk about the abuse during the past month. It takes vulnerability to talk about it. But without vulnerability I realise there is no ability to trust and no real healing. Take your time building your relationship with your T and don’t put yourself under pressure to talk about stuff you don’t feel safe enough to talk about. And it takes time to grief all the losses. You’re doing great!!

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Hi Fi

I have alot of confidence in my T as I know her qualifications and have seen how things she has told me really helps..I don’t trust myself .. my abilities ..in saying things the right way. ..T is patient..I am sure she will help me to learn to feel more at ease in talking….

Thank you for your kind words, Fi, for encouraging and your compliments.. I know you are right with what you have said.. I need to be patient with myself..

Joy

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Joy, I think you are wise in not forming new relationships right now or continuing in old ones just because you are lonely. You do need time to heal and pull yourself together. Like Fi, I think you are doing a great job and I respect your bravery.

It takes me, at least, a year to feel that I know someone. I have a really hard time with psychologists and particularly, psychiatrists because of how I was treated by people in these professions in the past. These days, I tell myself that they work for me and they have to earn my trust and if what they do doesn’t help, I fire them!lol! I understand being slow to let someone in and I don’t think it is altogether a bad thing. It is perfectly normal in the face of all that has been done to you.

I’m having an achy day. I’m being lazy and should do something constructive but it feels good just to be lazy right now. I hope you are having a good day also.

Pam

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Hi Pam

I had homework to do .. still have a quiz to be done before Sunday night.. and had put in couple hours work for the company I work for.. making up for hours not done during the week.

I wont be establishing any new relationships any time soon.. I need to ..like you said..pull myself together and make better boundaries.. I am in my own home made intensive care unit and only one see those who I know are not going to hurt me.

I understand all you and Fi are saying .. and so appreciate both of you and everyone here who has been journeying with me and giving me virtual tissues to help me with my real tears:)

I have had bad experiences in the past with a couple so called “T’s” but I do believe in my T I have now..she is a caring and kind person. and very patient.. I have a hard time only because am afraid and timid and insecure and lacking self esteem.

I am dog the little things T suggests to help me think better of myself.. but have a long way to go in seeing myself worthy..though I know I am from what people say and what T says. I have to work harder to really believe and feel this in my heart..

I have cried tears today..sometimes i look around my apt and think of how things were and cry and cry.. Why wont people like me simply because I want to love God my way and simply because I need space to heal. why did I lose friends form 11 years of friendship.. those are the questions come to my mind today.. but . what can I say..
I am converting a little bit in that I believe in my heart that I deserve Therapy and I deserve to heal.. but am crushed to lose my friends. when i make a friend . .i like them to be forever friends as that is how I would be.. but not every one believes that way.. I am learning many things I believe are just my beliefs and ways of doing things. like loving everyone.. accepting everyone . …

I hope you get to feeling better Pam. I am trying to hear what the universe has in mind for a rhyme tonight..

Sending a hug:

Joy

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Joy, I think writing poetry, producing a rhyme, is one of the most healing exercises. There is something about bringing harmony to the pain inside our hearts that helps us to heal. I don’t write much peotry anymore but I wrote a lot of it as a young woman. I think it kept me from going stark raving.

I like keeping my friends forever too and I have a couple like that but most come and go. You have a lot to mourn right now. It’s good to only concentrate on the task of the moment. I’m glad you are beginning to know that you deserve good things.

Pam

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“I left the established church with its rituals many years ago because of the ritual abuse I survived and how it affects me. I’ve been to all sorts of churches (Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, charismatic) but have always been left cold by the judging, hypocrisy and lack of compassion. When asked personal questions about myself if I found the courage to mention I was abused in childhood and estranged from my family I was told without fail “it’s bad and sinful to talk about such things and it’s in the past, forget it, forgive it, get over it, seek reconciliation with your family, no matter what they did, they’re your family“.”

Was Catholic myself. In the protestant as well. I told someone about my Bipolar disorder and they thought I was Satan’s child (Baptist bunch). Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal got on my nerves so I just quit that. I’m sure it helps some people but I think it’s just about control and money. Except the Catholic bunch, I got told to donate a lot to their “programs”. A lot of hypocrisy there. Rare to see a program for me or others with sex abuse backgrounds so went to the Catholic. God I thought required it. Anyway, the sex abuse scandal really ticked me off so just decided, God either cares about me or he doesn’t. Adios, organized religion. I’ll believe in a non-abusive, non-controlling God and that’s it. If the church helps people that post on here, good. Just have respect me as well. Peace.

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Hi Allie

Thanks for your comment. The spiritual abuse you talk about really messes with abuse survivors and makes it very hard to get the support and help we need. As you say it is very rare to see any kind of program for people dealing with the damage caused by sexual abuse, or any other kind of abuse, for that matter. The church as it has evolved to be is so often far removed from what God originally intended. It was only through leaving ‘the church’ that I was able to see the spiritual abuse for what it is. It also enabled me to discover God, who is not about abuse, control or money, but about compassion and understanding.

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Oh My! Oh My! I’m trembling over this one. Fi, I had many of the same spiritual abuses. I would say that the worst abuse I went through was the spiritual… Whoa. I have a brother who is called the black sheep, but then when I was left, I became the “black-to-the-bone” sheep. It was awful. The teaching I was under was such that Jesus did not come to save. Submission was required to such a degree that if my birth father told me to let him kill me, i did not have an option. I had to let it happen. They also believed that Jesus came to be an example of how fathers are to make thier children suffer to show that they love them. The more fathers make thier children suffer, the more they ‘love’ them. That was used to excuse abuse. I was told that no one was allowed to talk about what happened in the family. We were so isolated. I had no contact outside the church. We weren’t allowed to. It was ‘dangerous’. And all the people in the church were just as bad as the family situation. I hated church. Didn’t want to know God….

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Hi Kia

I’m so glad this resonated with you. What appalling abuses, what awful teaching and what terrible things to say and do to anyone, let alone a child.

I remember the submission too. Submission was the sign of a good obedient Christian and God would send you to hell for not submitting. I also remember being told beating children is showing how much you love them because if you didn’t love them you wouldn’t beat them – a twisting of scripture and a bizarre justification. I was also told not to talk about what happened in the family.

The parallels between our experiences are incredible! I hope you’ve been able to discover that God is nothing like that. Thanks for commenting.

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its pretty digusting what has happened in the name of God. its no wonder that people are turned off by religion. but there is a true God out there and one thats cares deeply for his servants he knows us intimately and the Bible says he knows us that well that every hair on our head is numbered. I doubt(know)my husband doesnt know how many I have. please be assured that the true loving God will punish those that did those disgusting things. Psalms 139 shows how much knowledge God has of us if you have a bible handy look it up and also Hebrews 6:10 he wont forget you and what you have done to serve him. if anyone would like more information on such a loving God please reply and I will get back to you with some information. my God is nothing like the one that the so called Christian churches worship he is truly loving and caring for his servants

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I’m starting on a new, deeper level of healing from spiritual, physical and emotional abuse. It will take time, but hey, it’s been there for a long time. I am 67 yrs old so you are never too old to change with God’s help. I highly recommend the book “Soul Repair” by Jeff Van Vonderen and Dale & Juanita Ryan. I found I had just about every one of the distorted views of God. There is hope out there!

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Hi Fi-
Are you sure you haven’t been living my life? Everything you have written except for “left for dead by my parents” (although I did endure abuse), I have experienced as well, even tho I was brought up in a different denomination than you. Thank you for writing all this down so clearly…and in the same order that I’ve experienced. I am ever thankful to know that there is someone out there in this big world that would be able to totally understand me now.
About 10 years ago, it had popped into my head that maybe, just maybe, there could possibly be such a thing as “spiritual abuse” & I got to searching the net & came across this website: http://www.batteredsheep.com . Then I read a book also written by 2 authors, one of which is also Jeff VanVonderen called “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”…and I hardly dared to beleive that what I was experiencing could possibly be labelled such due to the brainwashing received over the years. What a rollercoaster it has been since then, but finally earlier this year, hubby & I broke away from these church types & it is amazing the chains that have fallen off & how freeing of a feeling it is to truly trust & rest in Jesus & to be guided by the Holy Spirit!

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I am so thankful so shared part of your story here with us. It’s very healing for me to hear your words and realize totally and be confirmed that abusive parents belong to Satan and Satan alone. There’s nothing honorable about them, so no need to feel guilty about the fifth commandment. I am part of a church, but I have found big loads of hypocrecy there. So I go not so regularly coz I just don’t want them to get the my way between God and me. God loves you dearly Fi, you are a very brave woman, God’s real church is all around the world, it’s those who love him truly, those whose actions show God is their Father. Nobody is perfect. Even if you see Luther, he was not a perfect man, or Peter, or any other. Yet, Jesus loves them dearly and so He loves us dearly too. The enemy of souls tried to destroy us, to burn down the trust we have in God, but he could not. Praise God for that because He is our loving Father and He gave his son for our salvation and no one will ever be able to take that away from us.

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Hi Janice, yes what a difference it makes to find out that others have been through the same and understand and empathise. Part of the brainwashing of abuse is that the are the only one and no one else could possibly understand, even if there are other children around you being abused, as it often was for me. It was a massive relief for me to find that I was not alone with my experience!

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Hi Liz, thank you very much for your comment, it was very hard to write this post but also very liberating!! I’m very glad you found help, affirmation and encouragement through it!

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Hi FI! So very grateful you wrote this article and it fits me like a glove. After reading this I began having memories and insights into why I feel the way I do about God. It’s no wonder why I strayed so far off the path of love in the first place.

Once I started to really unravel all the lies I totally understand where all my anger comes from. The worst part of all my anger is that it was never allowed to be expressed so I internalized it. The anger that comes out now is so disgusting to me because it has held me back from knowing the truth of who I really am. I can’t imagine what you went through, I can only use my own experience and I feel a deep compassion for you. You are one courageous, brave soul for coming out and standing up for the truth. I am grateful to be on this side now and blessed to be in the company of people like yourself who have the strength to believe and heal themselves.

Darlene is my new hero for creating this site where we can all come and share hope, healing and empowerment. We all wake up to the truth in our own time and I feel very blessed to have this support to pave the way.

Thank you all so much for believing in yourselves because each time you do, you show me how to do the same. Namaste!

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Oh my Gosh- I see myself in this story.
I do not have all the darkness of all my abuses and abusers revealed yet. and know I am holding it back- I am hot inside and having trouble breathing but thank you for writing this.

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Hi Lora, so happy this helped you so much, really encouraged by your comment!!!

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I was taught a lot of this “church” stuff and disgusting is the only word that seems to fit the situation I was in. I remember crying myself to sleep when I was 9 yrs telling Lord: Please Lord I don’t want to be a gay, please. Why did I do this? Well prior to the prayer, I was telling my little sister to stop being a pain in the ass and the way I said “Stop it” sounded a little feminine. My Dad heard all of the commotion and he confronted me afterwards saying: “Do you want to grow up a faggot!? God won’t like that.”

I now know that I am not whatever he made me out to be, though remembering how he used religion to make me feel bad about whatever I did, as well as make me feel, like there was no hope left in me, was just appalling. Toxicity at its finest.

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Fi, my heart goes out to you, & thank you for candidly speaking up about spiritual abuse. I too had a mixed bag of denominations, and was raised in a narcisstically maternal domineered family. My Dad, who I’m just coming to understand as the classically abused husband, found “God” in a Pentecostal church when I was 9. After that was a daily religious war in our house until my parents divorce 10 years later. Every day we were told we were sinners and going to burn in hell for eternity if we did not “give our lives over to Christ.” Even though we attended an Anglican school, and went to a Presbyterian church every Sunday. This was layered over earlier teachings by my mother: Adopted, me she told me at 5, “If you don’t behave I’ll take you back and trade you in for a new model.”; she sent my brother out of province to boarding school when he was 14 because he was getting too hard to handle. It was one thing to have been programmed that if you didn’t play their rules you wouldn’t be loved or that you would be sent away, but the damage from my father that if you didn’t behave appropriately it would mean eternal damnation was worse. Also in our family was external image was everything so no one had a clue. In my early 20’s, searching for my Christian home, I went to my own church. But when I reached out and asked for help because I was depressed, I was asked if I’d been playing with Oiji boards, or what else had I done to let Satan in. I left & have continued on my own spiritual path, knowing that there is one that is filled with kind loving people who support & encourage me. I have yet to find one in a church, they are in various forms of non-traditional groups, and ones I would be highly judged for by so-called Christians. It took a long time to extricate myself from the deeply seeded fears associated with their concept of God, but still working on building my self-esteem and that I am good and worthy of love as I am.

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Hi Lianne, thank you, we have lived through parallel experiences in so many ways. It’s great to read of how you have worked through the many layers of damage from all that stuff. I know I am much better for not being in the church environment and being judged by other “Christians” and being told I was possessed, there was something lacking in me that I could not overcome the abuse of my childhood and for being depressed and that I needed to align myself with what the bible says I am and forget all that stuff from childhood. I wish I had known then what I know now about the long term effects of abuse and trauma, the damage which is done to the brain and to the spirit. But what I know now enables me to know that I am doing ok, I am who I am because of it all, the distress and difficulty I experience because of it is pretty much “normal”, for want of another word. It is not because I am at fault in some way, or cannot “forgive and put it behind me, sort myself out, believe, trust, change my thinking, stop giving Satan a foothold etc.” What total rubbish I had spouted to me by so many “Christians”. And how damaging all that was. Actually, I do pretty well in spite of it all. I have not reached a point where I can say “I am good or an ok person” but I am slowly heading towards it. It does take time to rebuild and to work out for yourself what your concept of God is and how you see yourself in relation to that and it is good to read of your progress in that. Thank you again, I found your comment very helpful, affirming and encouraging.

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Hi Carlos, yes this type of “Church Stuff” is toxic and it is disgusting and very damaging. It’s good to see that you can recognise that.

I love your closing paragraph – “I now know that I am not whatever he made me out to be, though remembering how he used religion to make me feel bad about whatever I did, as well as make me feel, like there was no hope left in me, was just appalling. Toxicity at its finest.”

Sums it up really well. Thanks for commenting. I wish you well in your healing journey.

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been told too that what I experienced is what people made of it, not what God or Lov efor that matter is truely about

to this day teh word God however still feels off to me –

tho love has become a more safer concept be it very fragile

thing is that often when people are into religion they feel like it s the solution for al so when they saw me in a healing process they d say to become christian or muslim or…. when I was still filled with what had happened religious wise at a young age still

I needed much more to let love in my heart agian then just convert –

as it all got tainted at one point

very deep as well

thx fro sharing

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