Archive for spiritual abuse
I 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 Read More→
I am pleased to have Pam Witzemann guest blogging for Emerging from Broken this week writing on the topic of Spiritual abuse for this miniseries that I have been publishing in recent weeks. Please help me welcome Pam and as always we look forward to your feedback and all comments are welcome. Darlene Ouimet ~ founder of Emerging from Broken.
Profile of A Spiritual Abuser By Pam Witzemann
I am a Christian and my experience with spiritual abuse is in the Christian context. However, spiritual abuse is not limited to Christianity. There are abusers in every faith, religion, and philosophy. Where ever human beings gather, there will be, at least, one abusive person. Spiritual abuse is differentiated from other abuse only by the use of God and the abused’s faith in God being used as a manipulative tool. All abusers want power and control over others and spiritual abusers are no different. This power over others can be used to carry out all kinds of evil and is at the root of the Read More→
This week I am pleased to have Lynn Tolson, Author of “Beyond the Tears: A true Survivor’s Story” guest blogging on Emerging from Broken. The following blog post illustrates how religious institutions demand blind obedience from parishioners trained from childhood to defer to the established patriarchal principles of society. Conforming to the religious standards without being able to think for oneself and form individual opinions is a set up for oppression and submission for the sake of a feeling of belongingness. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section ~ Darlene
I saw a little saying on Twitter the other day that read ~ “God likes you. A lot. Deal with it” It was a twitter account that was promoting the book, “The Shack” and although I loved the book, the saying itself really bugged me. And not because I am not a fan of God; I am. But it was the “Deal with it” part that bugged me. I felt like saying “NO” I don’t have to “deal with it”. I felt “told” and I felt as though I had “no choice”. Even though this is meant to be a positive statement, that God likes me a lot, I found it to be irritating.
I have the same aversion to being told things like “get over it” I find instructions and directives like that demeaning, as though these people are inferring that I am incompetent, and that I have made the wrong choice where my own feelings are concerned. Those statements often come in larger sentences such as “Oh for goodness sake, get over it already” and there is always an impatient voice infliction attached to them. Tone of voice is used to “remind me” that I must be too stupid to understand “HOW to deal with it” thereby putting the focus back on me, reminding me that I am Read More→
Every day I realize more and more that if the world is going to change at all, it is going to change through the emotional healing of the victims. I think that victims of emotional abuse and all the other forms of abuse that stem from emotional and psychological abuse including sexual abuse, domestic violence and spiritual abuse, make up the majority of the people in the world. We have a voice; it is time to take our voices back, to heal and to take our lives back. Abusers can only be truly stopped when victims heal. When the people that they have hurt, realize the truth and realize that we can overcome the pain, oppression and rejection we have lived with and finally take a stand against it in our own lives. When victims emotionally heal, we are strong enough to stand up to the abuse and we are no longer fooled by subtle manipulation. There will be a ripple effect and we will raise our own children differently then we ourselves were raised, and the abusers will lose some of their power because the psychological abuse, lies and manipulation highlighted in the points below, won’t work the same anymore. Read More→
All abuse, weather it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse. I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.
The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track. First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.
I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with. That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem. We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently. She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time. Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.
When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.
She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about? That was the last time that we spoke.
And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~ I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.
And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.
As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life. I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.
And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.
This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.
Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.
Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time
Founder of Emerging from Broken
Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf ~ Belief system development
I tried to LOVE by the definition of love in the last post “Love is Patient, Love is Kind ~ a bit of a rant” but I was not valued for that because I (whatever I did) was never good enough. How could I have learned to understand the true and lovely meaning of this poetic bible verse “1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” if I never had an example of human love that actually loved this way or presented love in some sort of balance?
People tried to tell me that Christ was this example but this was not my childhood experience. The bible tells adults to be an example of Christ ~ but where WERE those adults? I recall being “preached at” being talked down to so often the people delivering these messages were delivering them in a UN-loving way. As I child I learned that I MUST do this “love thing”~ but I didn’t learn that others must also try to achieve this standard, I only applied it to me. The fact that all people (INCLUDING ME) have equal value, was missing from my learning. What I learned was that I was not going to BE loved, but I HAD to love.
This missing information went with me into adulthood and everything I knew (right or wrong) about love went with me and I processed all relationships through the grid that I learned as a child. Things have to be RE LEARNED properly with the right definitions in place if we are to heal this gaping wound. People said things like “just put it behind you” or “Just give it to God” but nobody told me HOW to do that. I was not able to put the massive mixed messages about love or about my worth behind me until I really looked closely at how they got there and what the real truth was. And this was not a small mess, it was really huge.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sorting some of this stuff out but one thing I learned on my journey to wholeness is that the key to my understanding the true meaning of love was by realizing what it was not.
If I am supposed to treat others the way that I would also like to be treated, then I had to begin to treat myself with respect and love too. Self love was never taught. I had to learn to regard myself the way that I was being encouraged to regard others. The first step towards self love came from the work of looking at how I arrived at “not loving” myself.
SO……Just what does that mean; what did I do?
I looked at the abusive situations I had been in. I examined them in a new way as though they had been done to me instead of that I had been a participant or somehow responsible for what had happened to me. I began with the first memory of trauma. As I have shared before, my first memory of trauma was of being sexually abused by a female babysitter when I was just over two. When I took this memory apart, revealing to my therapist everything that I remembered about it, I was shocked to realize that I thought I had a choice. Even at the age of two, I thought that I could have done something to stop it. And since I didn’t stop it, I concluded that I must have participated in it. This conclusion did not come from that one event. It came from many other times in my life when I had not been validated and my only conclusion was that it was my own fault. Self blame was how I survived. I could not blame the adults that took care of me, for without them (when we are children) there no hope.
I looked at the child sexual abuse, psychological abuse and physical abuse spiritual abuse and the trauma that I had experienced. I examined how each situation had affected me emotionally and how I adjusted in order to cope with the reality of how I was actually regarded or not regarded.
Then instead of trying to change ME which was the solution I believed in all of my life, I stopped trying to change ME and I looked at the root of the abuse and what I believed about myself because of it. I looked at WHY I blamed myself and HOW I came to blame myself. That is where I found the answers. What I changed was the false belief system that I had accepted about myself and my value.
This false belief system was given to me by many others and by many situations. Not all of them were abusive, but the grid that I viewed them through was discoloured and foggy from a very young age. I already had self esteem problems.
When I was actually able to straighten this false truth out, I was able to realize that the state that I was in emotionally and mentally was never something that I brought on myself. I was able to place the responsibility where it belonged; on those who failed me, abused me, mistreated me and devalued me. The good news is that I didn’t have to stay there forever either. I stayed there long enough to validate myself and to believe that I deserved equal value to everyone else.
Then I had to own that value. I had to embrace my own value deeply inside of me, all the way to the very core of me. I had to take apart the damage, in order to realize that I was indeed lovable and that I could love me. This took time. There were a lot of false beliefs and false definitions about love living as truth in my head. I had to take a look at it and re-wire a lot of it before I began to feel the burden of self hatred lifting. There was a lot of re-parenting involved ~ learning to love and nurture myself ~ to do and be for me what others never were for me. I had to let go of the guilt that went with not being able to “just let God do it”.
It was like a huge clean up project; I might not have been the one that caused the damage but it was my work to fix it. Love, healing and wholeness were my rewards; I found myself and I embraced the unique self that had been rejected, first by others and then by me, all my life.
Please feel welcome to contribute as much or as little as you wish in the comments.
Freedom calls from the other side of broken,