Spiritual Abuse and the Catholic Church by Lynn Tolson


spiritual abuse church abuse

Lynn Tolson First Holy Communion

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

Spiritual Abuse and the Catholic Church ~ Adapted from Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story by Lynn C. Tolson

Like many Americans of Italian descent, my family was of the Roman Catholic religion. My grandmother had statues of saints on her dresser and a picture of the Pope over her bed. My mother prayed with me, on our knees, before bed: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Our family activities and meals, such as eating fish on Fridays, were based on the religious calendar.

In parochial school, Mass was mandatory on Holy Days of Obligation. Each class marched single file to the church; nuns in habits led children in plaid uniforms. I learned the language of the Catholic congregation: catechism, confession, contrition, communion, confirmation, excommunication, and the rituals of the Catholic church: The stations of the Cross, the Cross on the Rosary, and the Sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That included all the important people, but what category did little girls fall into? I was also taught prejudice by the clergy: “Don’t talk to Protestants or Jews; if you do, your duty is to convert them to the One True Religion, which is Catholicism.” This is spiritual abuse. What a load of responsibility on children, to be prejudicial toward others based on religion. Whenever I was in church, I never felt right or good. I always felt guilty, because I’d been taught, we were born with Original Sin. That teaching is also spiritually abusive.

Confession was a real dilemma for me. Each Saturday, I’d ask myself, “What sins could an eight-year-old commit?” Often I did not sin at all, but since Confession was mandatory, I invented sins, such as fibbing. To perform the rites of a good Catholic, I lied to the priest about how I had fibbed to my mother. As a kid, kneeling in the confessional to admit fake sins to a priest who was shrouded in shadows behind the partition served only as an exercise of fear and punishment, rather than a proclamation of faith and salvation. Confessing to temptations that were fabricated made me feel as guilty as sin, but at least guilt was a feeling I could relate to.

My religious beliefs were not mine at all; they were developed by the adults around me who sought moral righteousness by blessing themselves with holy water at Sunday Mass. The self-righteousness was depleted by Sunday evening, when Chianti and cursing and name-calling became the family dinner rituals. Along with the vocabulary of the religion and the discrimination by the clergy, I also learned the hypocrisy of my spiritually abusive relatives. Yet I yielded to their attitudes because that is what I knew was a measure of my belonging to this family and a member of the One True Religion.

In sixth and seventh grades, I was in search of a sure path to heaven. When Mother Superior asked girls to clean the convent, I volunteered to dust the home of the devout sisters of a holy order. Sister Mary Agnes led me past the rectory to the convent. As I stepped into the habitat of this secret society, I smelled a sweet mixture of incense, candle fragrance, and furniture polish. “Don’t break anything,” Sister said. The statue of Saint Francis was larger than life, and as I dusted his feet, it seemed like the eyes of Jesus were watching. My heart flopped like a fish out of water. I prayed that I was not doing anything wrong.

On Vocation Day, Sister Mary Therese told us, “Search your soul for your calling. If you have the calling, your heart will speak to you.” The convent activity caused me to consider a vocation as a nun. Could I devote an entire lifetime to God? Well, how long would I live? Could I live with all the other sisters? What, and never talk during dinner? Could I wear that habit? Not in this heat and humidity. This particular path to heaven was a little too difficult. Obviously, I did not have the calling.

Perhaps I could be virtuous, like the Virgin Mary. I contemplated faith, hope, and charity: Have faith in whom? Have hope for what? Who needs my charity? I waited for rapture, but after growing up Catholic and with so much spiritual abuse, all I got was guilt.
As I teenager, I witnessed my family’s discontented versions of God: My father was an atheist, my step-mother was a pagan, my step-father was agnostic, my brother wanted scientific proof, my younger brother went with the flow, my grandmother went to Italy to visit the Pope, and my mother gave up on God altogether. After battling with God over why he allowed incest (a word I learned by looking in the dictionary at ten years old to see if it applied to me) into my young life, I wrote a few cynical words that expressed my belief: God hates me therefore God punishes me.

I thought about God as I was punishing myself with a suicide attempt at twenty-three years old. I worried about the fate of my soul, if indeed I had a soul. Parochial school taught me that it was a sin to commit suicide, so I would burn in hell. Surely, my soul was unworthy of any place other than hellfire and damnation. I deserved to die. Presuming there was a God, and in case God could hear, I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer as I swallowed three hundred pills: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. What a complicated mix of confusing thoughts that had been festering under the control of a religion I did not choose or want!

In therapy after that suicide attempt, I realized that religious rituals were not for me. I learned that some people feel stifled by institutions and some use church just to gain status. Religion may be a source of strength to others. The principles of religion, such as The Golden Rule or The Ten Commandments, were supposed to instill love. But if traditional religion had no significance to me would I live without love? How could I live without the Catholic religion that had once defined me, my family, and my place in the world. Wait, the religion may have been a factor for my family, but did I really have to inherit it when all I got was guilt?

My counselor taught me that guilt is productive as a measure of moral conscience to keep us from veering too far from our values. But nonproductive guilt, that pervasive guilt for no good reason, is counterproductive. I had been living within the limits of false guilt. What I longed for was unbridled, unbounded authentic love.
In an attempt to relieve myself of the guilt, I started on a spiritual quest. I learned that there is a difference between religion and spirituality. The main premise of spirituality is the belief in a Higher Power. With spirituality, humans attain an awareness that acknowledges the soul because we are intrinsically spiritual beings in human form. I once thought the soul hovered above or around the body, but not quite in it. I learned that the body is a vessel for the soul to inhabit; the soul is the essence of love as it manifests in the world.

Spirituality took on a new meaning, not as a means to get to Heaven, but as a way to get through each day on earth. It was a relief to learn that I’m not a heretic without hope of redemption. The love of God is not reserved for special people who perform certain acts; a spiritually abusive teaching designed to force compliance and gain control. Love is not a matter of deserving. No list of accomplishments is needed to earn love. There is a purpose to life, which is as simple as experiencing love and extending that love to others. In this mix of giving and receiving love, there is no room for guilt, which makes way for peace.

I have developed my own individual and true beliefs. God’s love (your personal vision) is alive and present in your soul. Our spiritual connection is our unity with God, and the love of God in the universe. Every soul finds redemption as a child in God’s family because love is unconditional and pure within all of us. Although my beliefs may be imperfectly formed and impartially developed, at least they are created by me using my own thoughts, opinions, and emotions.
Along with exploring my core spiritual values in therapy, I read many books on the topic of spirituality. Here is a link to an Amazon Listmania, to share some of the books that were meaningful in my personal spiritual journey

Lynn C. Tolson
Bio: After her first eighteen years in the Northeast, Lynn Tolson moved to the Southwest where she engaged in careers in real estate and property management. During those years, she survived post-traumatic stress disorder, which manifested in addictions and suicide attempts. Through the therapeutic process, she determined the causes of her dysfunction, which included childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence. Ultimately, she was able to achieve a life that reflects health and happiness. Her memoir, “Beyond the Tears: A true Survivor’s Story” illustrates physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation; her story offers a message of hope. Tolson moved to the Midwest where she returned to college to obtain a degree in social work. She has also overcome breast cancer. She resides in the Rocky Mountains where she works as an artist, author, and advocate.
To visit Lynn C. Tolson’s blog click Beyond the Tears

Categories : Family



Dear Lynn

I can say i have been there and am now trying to heal all the wounds that I picked up while living in the Catholic Faith. I tried my hardest to be a good girl, to live all the rules, to follow all the fasts, to imitate the saints but I was one broken little girl.

I knew every prayer by heart and really tried to embody everything. I somehow believed if I did everything I was told God would send an angel and take me away from all the nonsense that was going on in my home.

The nuns would tell me to learn to suffer in silence, to offer every hurt, every paid up and then I would be pleasing to God. They took me to their personal library and told me to read as many books there that I wanted .

I read almost all the books, so I know its in the history of the Catholic Church to cover up pain under the guise of drawing close to God. You were taught to be happy that you were mistreated. You were supppose to see it as a sign from God of special closeness, the more you suffered.

Despite all that, nowhere could I find in all those books I read where its pleasing to God that a mother should beat her daughter within inches of her life or that it was holy to through her in the boilin bath. or that kneeling all night was something children would do.

I use to think God was pleased with me till I went to church and told the priest of the scary stuff mom and bro did. and of all the beatings etc. The priest told me I was very displeasing to God that I should be ashamed exposing such things ..that are meant to be for God alone. I was to go to the church and ask God to forgive me and that I would only be forgiven if I never told anyone again.

Priests were seen like God. I felt so very small, smaller than I was a 6 years old: My mom hated me, the priest hated me, god hated me and my whole family hated me. …

I tried to find reason in the books I read for all my pain and all my abandonment. All I could find was that saints had to suffer . and the more one suffered the closer one was to God. I kept looking around for God since I was suffering alot every day. I wondered why I never saw him like the holy people in the books.

I kept on living as a Catholic till 2009 when I called from my second period of trauma to a pastor of a church were I gave 10 years of free service: cleaned church weekly, taught weekly , played the organ weekly. I did this all for God but you would think the church would be somewhat grateful. .I called when I was being threatened by my boss NJ and the pastor of the church said to me ” you got yourself into that mess, get yourself out of it.” . .That was in June.. if he would reached out to me so much would not have happened. I confronted him about it and about the shepherd that left the sheep to get the lost sheep and he said he wanted me to stand on my own two feet.

I asked how could i was trapped and abused.

I began to realize and believe I had been so misled. I entered into a big crisis of faith. Who was I and what was I following for so many years of my life.

The one thing that kept me quiet through all my suffering was my faith and all those books.

I have been doubly crushed by priests who spoke for God Twice in my life time I was left to be hurt with no one to help.

my mother told me i deserved what i got at the hands of my abusive boss..

So I can say I feel abandoned by the faith community i knew . .by family .. by friends and even by God. though I think God is in all this . .I just have to sort it out..



“I learned that some people feel stifled by institutions and some use church just to gain status. Religion may be a source of strength to others.”

Exactly. I am not religious myself, although I do believe that Jesus Christ was a man with the right idea about life and humanity. His gospel contains great lessons about how to treat others (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone”) and how to live life.

Going to heaven, for example, should be seen and taught as a movitation to live a good, prosper life. Not be used as a tool to scare people $#!tless about committing ‘sins’.

Sinning on its own I find something that is overrated. I believe that as long as you don’t harm others, God will find you a good person and allow you into heaven. If it works that way.

History has known lots of great, intelligent people that did a lot of good for the world. I don’t think the alcohol, sex and drugs they had made a difference in the good they did.

Thank you for sharing this post. You are a true Survivor.


– Prozacblogger


Hi Lynn,
Thanks for the time it took to write all of this out. I am a Christian but I also view myself as spiritual and not religious. I don’t like to put down anyone’s religion because I think for some, it is the expression of their spirituality. I have known some very spiritual Catholics and some very guilt ridden ones and some very flipant ones. I am not religious because rituals, special days, and lots of rules to follow do nothing to enhance my faith and my spirituality. I also see Jesus as my mediator between God and I and I have no need for any religious orginization to mediate and control my spiritual life.

I wasn’t always able to discern the difference between religion and living a life led by the Spirit. It was my own experience with spiritual abuse that made the difference clear in my mind. Now I walk the narrow path with only Jesus and church is just a place where I go to be with others and learn to love people who are often very different from me. It isn’t a Catholic Church but it still has its problems because it is made up of imperfect human beings. There really is no difference between a Christian and anyone else except belief in Jesus. Religion wants to make more of people than they can ever be and it is a very heavy burden. Those who like the power that religion gives them over others love to lay those burdens on others but very seldom carry them themselves. That’s where the abuse comes in.

I’m glad you are on your own path and seeking truth. Many allow spiritual abusers to sour them on all things spiritual. I believe we all need the spiritual to be healthy humban beings and when abusers trample that holy ground and destroy a persons desire for God, it is nothing short of a crime. A crime that, in this life, often goes unpunished.


Joy,There are many who say they speak for God but if what they say is in direct oposition to what is good, right, and true, they are liars. The speak for themselves and promote themselves, not Jesus. You know how I am, there are so many untruths in what you have been taught and abused with but I know I don’t really need to do that. I know you are loved by God, that He is pleased with you, and you will be able to sort it all out and find what is real. A hint–the truth is the opposite of everything you’ve been taught and wrote in your comment. I’m so sad that you have been trampled in every area of your life. How have you maintained your sweet spirit? I think YOU are an angel. I’m the one crying now. Love you.



Prozac Blogger,
Do you know the history of Hell? The Hebrews had no such concept and it doesn’t come from the Bible. The Hebrews,as taught in the OT, believed that when we die, we’re dead. They also believed in a future reserection and judgement. The Pharasees of Jesus time adopted the Greek teaching of Hades as a place of conscious torture for the damned. They did so to scare people into attendance at Temple. These are the same Pharasees that had Jesus crucified for no other reason than that He threatened the religious power they had over the people. Jesus suffered the ultimate spiritual abuse.—Anyway, just a tidbit that I wanted to add.–Oh, the word ‘hell’ is a theological word and the root of it means to conceal. I think it is interesting that it was used in the KJ Bible to conceal the correct terms of Pit, Common Grave or Sheol, Gehenna, Tartarus and Hades.During KJ time, people stored their potatoes in ‘hell’ which was a hidden hole in the!


I was married to a pastors son and he was very abusive in the name of Jesus. The inner circle their kids were allowed to beat up my daughter. I tried for years to get them to stop. I didnt know the parents purposely looked the other way. At present she has perminate scarres from that. Her stomach had laserasions that went untreated because the local doctors said she was making it up. It turned into a dangerous bacterial infection. She is an adult now and is so screwed up and I beat myself up and do a lot of what if’s. Those cruel people still act as if they did nothing wrong and how God will punish me. That it was all my fault and what kind of christian am I.



interesting point you make. The hebrews had no such concept. Does that mean their religion was ‘healthy’?

I always feel that catholicism is filled with commerce. In many communities you have to pay to be a part of it. I think that’s weird. You HAVE TO attend church, you HAVE TO admit your sins, blablabla. Isn’t that a bit much to ask.

Who are we to decide what God thinks is right? Aren’t we put here for ourselves to decide what we think is right? And to live OUR life to the fullest.

I really feel for you and your story. And I think it’s amazing you shared it here.


– Prozacblogger


After being married into the church (Full Gospel) and seeing the egotistic practices and the ungodlyness I left with a lot of questions. Someone sugested I read THE SHACK beleive it or not it answered a lot of questions for me. You begin to think it’s all you I did that for years.In reality it is all them and once I left and saw what healthy churches do it was amazing the true God was kind and loving after all!


HI Pam

I try to be kind and be the opposite of all the bad I have known..when people hurt me i turn around immediately and try to do some nice things to others. If people hate me then i turn around and try to love everyone. I just turn everything I have know around.. I am still healing and hurting and needing real friends.

I know God loves me and I love God.!

Love you too, Pam, thanks for your continued support.



Prozac Blogger, Well, Jesus was a Hebrew and I think He was very spiritually! The Hebrew religion was as messed up during the time of Jesus as Christianity is today. In a way, I think God has left it that way so we’d look to Him and not one another. Jesus is my spirituality, the way He lived, and the way He was devoted to God. In that I believe that we can know what is right. It isn’t rocket science. Its amazing what people can twist it into.

Joy, that is a perfect example of overcomeing evil with good and I’m very proud of you for that.:0)


Lynn; thank you for identifying what spiritual abuse is and exposing the ways it happens and what it looks like through your story. I also learned many of the same lessons in my own seeking. I’d also reported the abuse from my youth and then my marriage to my church “family” and friends. They reinforced that something was wrong with me for causing the abuse. At one point I remember asking point blank about a husband beating or hitting his wife. The responses I got were first, what had I don’t to make him hit me and second if I was more submissive then he wouldn’t have to abuse me. I was also the cause of his abuse towards our children in that if I didn’t interfere with his “leadership” he wouldn’t be abusing them. Sadly, the church is one of the first places many survivors go searching for help and too often the church simply reinforces the message that we are not good enough and if we try harder then one day we might discover that magic recipe where we can do things right enough to finally be accepted and loved as we are. One of the things I notice that identifies those who are religious and separates them from those who are spiritual is when they question MY relationship with god. Typically this kind of abuse insists that for me to be ok with god I have to adopt THEIR religion. Until I began to see myself, my beliefs, my thoughts, my desires as valid I was at risk for this kind of misleading and abusive help. Learning to trust myself and my own spirituality helped me to be able to stop being re-victimized by this kind abuse.


It’s great to see the responses here because it shows how we are able to explore what religion and spirituality means. Susan K-S puts the point of the post clearly: “Learning to trust myself and my own spirituality helped me to be able to stop being re-victimized by this kind abuse.” Then you can see it’s not all you and not them, as Renee says. Pam, PB, Joy, you all articulate your experiences so well.


What is “Original Sin?” Here is an entry from Wikipedia: “In the theology of the Catholic Church, original sin is regarded as the general condition of sinfulness, that is (the absence of holiness and perfect charity) into which humans are born.”


@Lynna and Darlene thanks for posting this! I know it is not politically correct to speak against the Catholic church. I was raised in the Catholic church but never believed in God. Seriously religioun is all man made and in my opinion it is kind of for people who cant think for themselves especially the Catholic religion. I have always been a free thinker and always rejected the ideas of organized religion. I came to true faith through my own personal spiritual journey as well. In my opinion phonies and people who use religion as a cover up for evil or whatever, it is hard for me to understand the energy people put into that. Thanks for exposing the truth!


That’s right, Pinky, speaking about a religion is a controversy. I’m glad you came to faith via your own spiritual journey. I happened to grow up Catholic, but the power and control issues of clergy exerted over the congregation could apply to any religion, Baptist, Lutheran, Mormon. A good memoir on the subject is “Leaving the Saints” by Martha Beck. Talk about not being politically correct! But the truth is not politically correct if it does not comply with doctrine. I believe in God; I did not believe in everything I was learning as a child. Yet a child dared not question else be labeled a heretic, and receive humiliation in front of the class. A good book about evil, whether or not religion related, is “People of the Lie” by M. Scott Peck.


@Lynn yes I read people of the lie and like his writing in general. I do believe that about all religion, yes all! I never bought into the lies of the church so I never identified myself as a Catholic or ex Catholic! It just never meant anything to me. I try not to offend anyone if they bring up that they are Catholic because it is not a threat to me I dont need to tell them what I think but if they ask I will tell them! But I am glad this is being talked abotu here there is such fear and taboo with talking about religion at all in our society! Even the statement uttered from our former president “Islam is a religion 0f peace” is ridiculous and insane and shows the fear in our society of the truth! So I know it i snot just the Catholic religion. I dont have a special hatred for it just think the lies of religion are stupid and ridiculous!


and PS what abotu the statement you hear so very often ” I dont talk about religion it is too personal” but the same people will talk about sex! LOL!


Hi Pinky, I presumed that you knew it was not only about the Catholic church. I have called myself a “recovering Catholic.” They say talking about religion is too personal? That’s like saying that domestic violence is a private family matter. Talking about how religion negatively shaped and ultimately shamed one little girl is not too personal if other children/adults have the insight to say “me too.” Then talking about religion serves to comfort those who had the same feelings/thoughts but were too fearful to express. We have to challenge society if we are to eradicate the attitudes of power and control that foster child abuse, and much of society is based on religion. For me, it’s a leap of faith to talk aloud, but so far I have not been condemned!


@Lynn, I have heard that before “recovering Catholic” @Domestic abuse is a private family matter, wow if someone said that to me I might go bullistic on them! 🙂


Everyone, I also think that we can leave ourselves open to be abused by those who use God to control people and maintain power, when we look to the church to meet our needs, when we should look to God. I know people make more of church than it ought to be and I do believe that decent treatment should be expected but it really isn’t true that be part of an organized religion is necessary to know God. I’m having a hard time expressing this but when we look to that which is material to satisfy our spiritual need, we are missing the mark right off the bat. It’s hard to believe in what we can’t see, especially when one is new to faith, but that is what spirituality is about. The unseen is the eternal.–I hope that made sense. Its not an excuse for those who abuse or blaming the victim but for me it is a spiritual boundary that keeps me safe.


@Pam I agree with and understand everything you said and I think everyone else will too!~


Am having a very hard time this night . all of sudden guilt .sin..all this stuff from my catholic past are attacking my mind . This is what happens when a person is so seeped in the faith that taught you all is sin. I am beginning to doubt my rights to heal. like I am being selfish for wanting to heal. I learned of virtue and how can i claim to be virtuous if i am telling my hurts.. Am in a very bad way tonight. I am feeling like i am sinning for wanting to heal



Hi Joy, What does the word sin mean to you? Do you know that the definition is “to miss the mark”? It just means that we aren’t perfect like God and God provided a way to take care of that through Jesus. If God thought we could keep from sinning, He wouldn’t have needed to send Jesus to take care of our sin. I believe, that He really just wants us to acknowledge that He is God and we miss the mark and we need Him. We can’t be God and I don’t think there is anything God hates more than when human being try to play God. That’s what the people who hurt you did. You didn’t do that. You’re always just, Joy and much more open about being just, Joy than most people. Of course, God wants you to heal because He loves you and He wants what is good for you.

I hope I didn’t say too much. Just know that it’s said with love and throw out whatever doesn’t help.


Sin is moving away from God doing what displeases God and I am having lots of thoughts that are attacking me. accusing me of sin for wanting to heal. accusing me of betrayal of not being virtuous.. Accusine me for wanting to be in Therapy’ a a hrad night.. but I have to get through it. Sin saying no to God ..not doing what GOd wants. that is what i see sin as. .I am only posting as I am so tempted.. and tried and I have no support system.. its a very hard time.

Thank you for your words..


ps I believe there are many roads to God.many ways.. I believe there are many faiths and religions and everyone responds to God through their heart … Religion is man made.. Denominations are man made…


I was raised LDS and found your blog and everyones comments to be helpful in understanding my own religious abuse. I have considered my abusers for a long time to be my father, sister and the entire LDS church. I relate in similar form but different docterine. The tactics were the same. I consider my spirituality to be much healthier once I left and was able to begin deprogramming my mind heart and soul from its teachings. Thank you for this post.


Hi joy,
I wanted to add to what Pam said and something that you just said too. Something that I learned in this process is that I believed a lot of things that were not true. For instance you say that sin is saying no to God and that it is not doing what God wants. What I had to understand is that what people TOLD me that God wants was mostly lies but I believed them. So my judgement of myself doing right and wrong was all messed up. People can say/teach anything they want, but that doesn’t mean it is true. And they can even believe it themselves, but that doesn’t mean it is true. Much of my recovery has been about sorting that stuff out. You are torn by what “people” told you is sin and by what “people” told you God wants.
Hope that helps a bit. There is a real truth, I had to find it. I did a lot of my own searching for what God really said and for what Christ really taught. There is WAY more love then any people or church ever taught me!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kris,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. (I did not write this post but I am the site owner ) I also relate spiritual abuse to situations. I have been involved in several “denominations” all of which were manipulative and controlling of the individual ~ even to the degree of controlling thinking or thoughts. None of that is supportive or empowering.
Thank you for your post. Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

I think there is too much emphasis on sin and too little on love
and i don’t like to think of God as some judge waiting to push us
into some fiery pit. It is not how I can accept a being that is love and love alone. I really find it hard that fear is used instead of love. Fear seems to paralyze and love frees. I did make it through the night but it was a battle like i never knew before.

I don’t believe in the end that people are going to worry what faith they have because religion is something man created .. God created man and time and man created religion as a way to respond to God but there are many ways to respond. but the one common thread that all faiths share is love . I am convinced in the end ..we are not going to be judged by what denomination we claimed but by the love we have in our heart for one another

I am probably totally wrong but I rather live my life loving . .you can’t go wrong there than to live my life in constant fear for everything I do. If we love we will do no wrong. .?

I thank you Darlene. I agree its a big time of discovery . .and right now . .for me I believe my way to God and others is love . I don’t want to keep living in fear.



Love your thoughts in comment #20. I had to sort all that out. People taught me what God wanted from me. Manipulative and controlling peopole. I had to clear the slate about what I had been taught. I was told what would disapoint God but it was a twisted version of the truth. I had to find the true truth. It is hard when a person has twisted truth going way back to childhood but this was the basis of my recovery from ALL abuse and really the bottom line in this website. To find the true truth and how I did that.
Hugs, Darlene


Joy, I agree with everything you said about religion being man made and especially, about love. God is love and if we claim to know Him, we should, above all else, love. It sounds like you came out of your rough night with some pretty clear conclusions.

Darlene, I wasn’t taught anything as a child. After I first began to believe, it was ten years before I tried any church. I didn’t find my faith in church and I was really confused as to why there were so many different views. My first five years or so of church were good and then I listened to the wrong people. The spiritual abuse I’ve been subject to has come more from controling individuals than the institution. I’ve only been a part of two churches and I still go but I stick to what I know is true and I no longer listen to those who want to direct my life by my faith. The church I go to now is very open and outwardly focused. The things that are taught are useful to me and always encouraging. Church can be horrible and it can also be very edifying. However, I don’t depend upon it as my source of truth and I no longer think of anyone as being closer to God than I am and capable of knowing what God wants for me. I think everyone who truly believes with wrestle with God and the things others teach about Him. Like all things in life, it is the process of seeking out the truth that engenders personal growth.

It’s good that this is being discussed here as often, it is pushed under the rug because religion can be such a touchy subject. There really isn’t any reason it can’t be discussed when all involved respect the personal boundaries of others to believe as they choose. It is also important, I think, to realise that same right to choose in ourselves. It is sacred.


Joy, I re-read the last comment I made to you last night. It was late and the end of a very long day at the end of a very long week. Please, understand that anything I say about God is said with an attitude of sharing and not with any intent to impose my beliefs or the truths I’ve found in my life on you or anyone. I’ve spent a good deal of my life beating on myself and I reacted to that in you. I only meant that I don’t want to see you hurting because of weakness that is just part of being a human being. People have been so bludgeoned with the word ‘sin’ and I believe, its meaning lost. I believe that when I focus on Jesus and love more and on not so much on my sin that I actually, sin less and am less likely to commit a horrile sin. I’m also much, much happier and empowered by my faith. Sorry, if I sounded preachy.



I’m glad to see that Joy made it through the night to find more clarity in the morning. I had not considered “spiritual abuse” or “religious abuse” relative to what my church and family taught me until the last 5-6 years. I did enter other churches, only to find myself discontent, and not as involved as the others in the congregation. Joy, if the Bible says that Jesus healed the masses, why would God not want you to heal? If you had cancer, and you sought a cure, wouldn’t it be pleasing that you embraced the life God gave you and honored the healing process it takes, such as surgery, chemo, radiation? We are healing a sickness of the spirit/soul; this illness that was placed upon us by elders when we were “teachable” to their ways of thinking. The sickness of the soul spread like a cancer into paralyzing fear, and it takes energy, exploration, and excavation of the tumors to heal. I think that’s what we do when we are healing, and we are doing it here on this blog by writing and reflecting. I wouldn’t want to feel guilty for healing because recovery is a way out of the darkness into the light of love. Pam, everything you say makes sense to me. Kris, thanks for being so upfront about your experience. We all have the right to self-determination. It takes courage to leave the religion of our family. Darlene, I’m glad you weighed in here. By the way, religion was formed as a way to define society, to reduce anarchy, to provide commercial enterprises, and to model behavior as deemed appropriate by the men of that culture.


The seven deadly sins and the corresponding virtues:

lust = chastity
gluttony = temperance
greed = charity
sloth = diligence
wrath = patience
envy = kindness
pride = humility


Hi Pam

Thanks for your kind words..last night was so rare. It’s not unusual for me to have nightmares..but is so unusual to become overwhelmed by such deep feelings of guilt. .it was like i slid all the way back to the beginning days of i had completely start all over and never knew anything.. The evil one had me crying some serious tears.. I was so tired i couldn’t think.. I was hearing all things things foo had said. the abusers ..the old friends.. all that kept playing over and over in my head.

I had to step back and i am so glad “T” taught me about the safe place and the breathing exercises as I used both. I was totally overcome by grief..For one instant i was believing I was the bad person after all..

IT was too late for anyone really to rescue me. so I had to do the best I can with what I had. .and wow.. didn’t realize how much Ihave been learning. .as everything T taught me come in handy!! I sent the devill packing and went to my safeplace.

Indeed am so tired for having fought the bad thoughts but am not weaker but stronger of spirit.

THank you Pam for all your kind words. I know in the end .whenever the end is . .we won’t worry about what religion we are we will be happy to be in the Light with all the angels and souls who have faught the good fight and persevered in doing good.

Love you and I understand what happens in late nights. I have had so many of them. .



I don’t want to think of sin . .i want to think only of love. and i think the OLD CHURCH focused on negative things .. on sin . on hell .. scaring you into doing things. I want to do things for love and love everyone ..i think that is what the kingdom of GOD is .loving everyone .. maybe I am wrong ..but can’t go wrong with love. PLEASE no sin sermons for me . ..



what if I don’t use the bible . what if I use another holy book .. must one stick just to one religion to realize one deserves to be healed? I believe that without holding to just one faith ..we know that God is love and love wishes no harm on anyone. .

Personally i dont like to quote just one holy book because I believe there are many faiths and I believe every one of them leads you to the path of holiness


I think that holiness is to live one’s life with guiding values of love and compassion, and extend that to self and others. It is my personal opinion that one does not need to stick to one religion or use the Bible to live a life with love and compassion. In Catholic school, I never learned the Bible. We were focused on the Catechism, although the mission of the Catholic Church is to proclaim the Gospel to the people of every nation in every age. Why would the children in Catholic school in the 1960s NOT learn the Bible, and only learn the Catechism, the big book for Catholics? I think it was so no questions could be asked by precocious little children with minds of their own. I want to say that I think I believed in God before going to school. I would look at nature, and hear music, and FEEL stirrings, and think about God until. Yes, I thought about God. In school, God was preached out of me by the nun’s focus on children as sinners. As an adult, I had to reclaim my connection with God on new terms, not as a force to fear but as a comfort to my existence. That was important to my mind, body, spirit healing. Joy, I’m really glad you learned coping skills during tough times, such as breathing.



Strangely enough the Bible was used very much in our catholic part of the world but in that same narrow minded way of “scaring the hell” out of you. .. not to teach you of Love which is really what its all about God loving humankind and the response humans give back.. to God and one another.

But sadly enough people of faith use their holy books to justify how they treat one another. How can anyone say any holy book tells you to hate . to discriminate .. to hurt. ..

This is why I am where I am in my faith. because its not just one religion but so many . So many that pull out their books and give your reason .. supported by quotations. for the injustices they do..
for the hurts they cause to groups of people!

I keep saying that the faith that embraces every single person: black , white, gay, straight, rich, poor, fat, thin, smart, dumb, etc as brother and sister without the least temptation to judge that is the faith I will embrace..



I imagined God as a male figure on a throne in the clouds who shook his finger at unruly children. It was difficult to grasp the concepts of omnipotent and omnipresent, but I dared not question the doctrine. I dared not answer a question, even if I knew the right answer. Nuns often whacked kids across the knuckles for not knowing the difference between a cardinal and a mortal sin. Other children seemed to accept whatever was taught, so I pretended to believe too.
I took on more pretense, more fakery, more doubt. Where was the love?
So, when I rejected and abandoned the Catholic religion, what would fill the space within? A vision of giving and receiving love.


Joy, I think my attitude toward the Bible is very different from someone who is raised in a religion. I had no preconceived ideas about what it said when I started reading it. I know for some, it is a book of rules because that is the way it was presented to them from childhood. For me, the words of the Bible are spiritual and Jesus was the living word, meaning He lived what the scriptures taught rather than just mouthing them. I have read other books but none of them speak to me in the same way as the Bible. The thing about the faith I’ve chosen is that I believe it to be true. I also believe that not everyone is meant to be a Christian or everyone would be Christain. We have free will and we choose. I also believe that each has their own path to God but I don’t see those paths as religion because I see religion as an attempt to lift us to God by performing certain good works. I don’t believe that as I believe we are all equal before God and no one is more highly favored than another. I don’t walk a path of religion but I am on the narrow path with Jesus and there is only room for me and Him where I am standing. I can’t direct another in how they should walk. I can only share what I believe is true and point to Jesus, to God and try not to make more of myself than I am.

I have a brother-in-law who was raised in Turkey under Islam. In that country, he wasn’t allowed to read the Bible, only the religeous leader were allowed that priveledge. He is very intellegent and won a scholarship to Berkley as he invented a type of rocket fuel for his countries military. He has read everything and though he still calls himself a Muslim, he loves the Bible and considers himself to be spiritual in a personal relationship with God. We can talk of spiritual things for hours and never get cross-ways. I also know that he never wants to live under the restrictive and oppressive system that he experienced as a child. He too sees the difference between religion and a spiritual relationship with God. I don’t always understand what God is doing or how He works in people’s lives. I just know that He is and He’s not restricted in that because of religions created by human beings.


What wonderful feeling to be smacked by nuns and then beat at home. The nuns would hit us on our elbows.. The priests would should out in the middle of church if you dozed off and called you out in front of the whole congregation. and if i was in trouble there i was in trouble at home since we were suppose to appear “very catholic” . .!!!

I believe in all that stuff then .. I really truly did. and that is why I suffered so intensely when they told me I was bad for revealing hurts done to me and why I suffer so much now .

If I believe in something I give 100 percent to that belief. to have it all be so wrong and shady just shattered me into a zillion pieces.

I remember the saying GOD is Love. that stuck in my mind as a little girl.. so i knew God is love so i wondered why GOd was missing from my life. since I had not been given love. .. that thought and the words of the Priest and the words of my abuser had me convinced that God hated me . that i was abandoned by all even God.!


We had to believe in order to BELONG, even if, as in my case, I forced belief upon myself when I had doubts. I did not doubt God’s existence, I doubted the doctrines, and I despised the use of fear, such as hearing “God will get you for this!” I think I was well into my twenties before I heard the phrase “God is love.” At that time, I started trying to replace negative religious patterning with positive spiritual authenticity. I got information from Unity Church that gave me affirmations to live by. One was “God is love.” The other is “I am.” For someone who attempted suicide multiple times, saying “I am” took a lot of guts. I exist. I am because I am. Oh, and we were supposed to “appear” Catholic.


Appearing Catholic. When I was a little girl, my brother (Eric) was studying to be an altar boy. He was on a sure path to heaven, even learning the incomprehensible Latin. Our aunt watched him at the altar with the Monsignor. “Look at your brother. He is such a saint.”
After church, our aunt encouraged Eric, “You look so pious and pure, you could be a priest, but you’ll have to be a virgin. You’re what, ten? Eleven? Of course you’re a virgin. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No,” Eric stammered in embarrassment. His face turned as red as the robe required when assisting with sacraments. The church considered sexual inhibition to be a positive attribute of the most sanctified, indicated by celibacy. Although Eric was barely in puberty, he decided that he would have his own normal family, which was not possible for a priest.
This brother was not normal at all, because when he was sixteen, he “molested” me. I’m sharing this to show the patterns that went so deep in a family that had to act like good Catholics.



I love Jesus too but i dont like what people have done in Jesus’ name!! THe one thing Jesus taught over and over and over is love .. reaching out to the poor, embracing the sinner, feeding the hungry. .He did break the rules quite a bit. Jesus was a rebel that is why His own crucified HIm .. He stepped outside the norm. He preached a way they could not accept and that way was not in the least a way that had only room for two . .Jesus cried out “COme to Me all you are who weary and I will give you rest” “Learn from Me who am meek and humble of heart” “Whatssoever you do to the LEAST of my brothers you do to ME” the whole story of JESUS was LOVE and his reason for dying was LOVE .. The relationship that JESUS wanted was not just personal .Jesus preached a Universal LOVE Jesus told the story of the the good samaritan. so that we could know who our neighbor was!! . See . . if people really study the Holy BIBLE and other HOlY BOOKS they will find this common theme that the Holy people constantly cried out for: LOVE AND JUSTICE, CARE OF THE ORPHANS, JUSTICE FOR THE OPPRESSED, etc.. In my heart i feel love is the way ..


I know all about those idea of holiness.. I use to think nuns had no they floated across the floor. what a surprise when I saw those shoes coming my way!!.. lol


ps.. all my former friends claim its Jesus told them to stay away from me because .. I am showing myself to be incorregible? that I keep in my bad way.. so this is what I mean . using Jesus for own purposes.. I just don’t see How Jesus would put His approval on such things…


Joy, I don’t mean that I’m the only one on the narrow path with Jesus, I meant that my relationship is personal, between me and Him. I’m sorry to mislead you. It frustrating trying to express what I believe and be understood. If I use familiar words that people associate with religion, I am misunderstood because every denomination has different meanings for many of the same words. If I used my own words, then I’m also often misunderstood because spiritual thoughts are hard to put into words. Jesus spoke of the narrow path and when I think of Him, I visualize myself on that narrow path with Him. I also believe that Jesus loves everyone. I also hate things that are done and have been done in Jesus name. People have even murdered and gone to war in Jesus name. Other religions have done the same. I hate it when people use God to manipulate others and gain power over them. That is also what I meant about walking on the narrow path with just Jesus, I have no control over anyone else’s walk with Jesus. It is between them and Jesus. I believe that in Jesus we have individual governance by God and have no need for religion or government. I too want justice and an end to suffering and I believe that will occur one day when each person has made peace with God. If we become like Jesus and live our lives in direct obedience to God, there is no need for religion or government to control the behavior of human beings. I see Jesus as a man who is the true son of God, who lived His life in such complete obedience to the Heavenly Father as to actually be God on earth. I think that is how people were designed to live before Adam and Eve were tempted by being told they could be like God. I believe that it is the human desire to be god that is the heart of sin. That is why sin destroys the relationship between humans and God. It causes it to become dysfunctional.

I hope I made better sense this time. I don’t want to make you feel bad about anything. I don’t want to make you be like me or even believe like me. I was just sharing what I believe. I think when we share faith, we encourage one another.That’s all I ever want to offer anyone from my faith, encouragement.



I understand and you are ok and you are my dear friend I know all about Jesus. just in my brokenness and attempt to heal I have come to see the beauty of other faiths. Having been silenced and never given a voice makes me want to respect the voice and rights of every soul . .the ability to choose and be respected for one’s choice is so big with me now..

I agree so much sin has been done in the name of religion 9/11 is a perfect example of religion gone to extremes. The crusades. .are another example..The Catholic church burned JOan of Arc as a witch and later declared her a saint.

I am sorry for saying anything regarding narrow.. but I feel some people, not you.. like to make religion a once a week special and only for those moments inside a designated building. Once they leave it’s like changing clothes. they put aside their beliefs and sermons and become hateful hurtful people..

I find all the rules and regulations suffocating. I feel that for me . faith should be liberating .. freeing .. uplifting. I lived so long without rights, or choices, that I am happy to be free to choose . I choose right now . just to love. to learn and listen to what God is saying inside me.

I really want to be a person who encourages rather frightens.. I rather speak of love which never does wrong then sin that is afraid to do wrong. …. just because i rather have a positive over the negative.. my life has been so long under the control of negative controlling people . i hope to be the opposite of all that has hurt me in the past..

Love you



Very well said. I am in total agreement. You spoke from my heart too.
Thank you,


I was thinking about the ways in which a child is silenced by church and church members. So, if I am a child who is being abused, who can I tell? I’d been taught to not talk to strangers. I’d been scared to death of nuns and priests. There was never a warm-fuzzy exchange to encourage a child to talk. In fact, the only thing we were allowed to say to a nun was “Good morning, Sister Mary Frances.” How can we talk when the priests visits the class-room only on vocation days? Whether going up the stairs, or down the stairs, or to the lunchroom or recess, the kids are formed in lines and told no giggling, no talking, and no bad behavior. If we were taught not to associate with Protestants or Jews, how can we make friends? I don’t want this to be all about my experience; I hope others will reflect on why they didn’t tell. I hear that phrase so much, “Why didn’t you tell?” and I’m passing on some deep seeded ways in which our culture/society set us up NOT to tell.


During Mass itself, or any other church activity, the simple acts of sitting, standing, and kneeling were timed to silent cues from the priest at the altar. The nuns glared at a child who accidentally knelt in the pew when standing was expected, and sometimes yanked a naughty boy out by his ear. Mass was a mystery since it was conducted in Latin, except for the sermon, which I never understood, even in English. Sometimes I could not tell when the priest switched from Latin to English because his words were gibberish, something about “man’s inhumanity to man.”


Lynn, I had no religeous training as a child and church, when I visited with friends, was a real mystery to me. The Catholic service I attended was the most confusing. I couldn’t understand what was being said, I knelt and stood up at all the wrong times, and I went forward for a cookie and juice like everyone else but was rushed back to my seat and I didn’t know why. I also attended a Baptist church and the pastor was talking about the “mini-skirt” demon and made a big show of kicking it out the window. I was entertained and I, at least, understood what he said but I was still puzzled about what any of it had to do with God. It’s sad when a group of people becomes so trapped withing ‘group-think’ that they lose all relevance to the outside world. I view religion as a hindrance to people finding God more often than it is a help.


Hi Renee,
I’ve been missing you. I’m glad to see you around here again. How are you doing?



Though I really never considered myself a Catholic the whole thing seemed like a cult to me even as a little child and seemed like fairy tales told to the naive just in general. I came to faith as an adult but it had nothing to do with religion. I do not identify myself as an ex Catholic because it was more my parents silly beliefs as far as I was concerted. I have always been a free thinker the whole thing always seemed so ridiculous to me. Always. _____________________________________
Bug having said that, I grew up going to Catholic school and church with I hated. I was fortunate enough to have a talent for dancing which got me out. I ended up going to a performing arts school from 8th grade on and the school there really intervened for me. My parents had me on some medication for seizures but I didn’t have epilepsy and the teachers noticed I was tired called my parents, got no where and threatened to call social services. I was taken off of the drugs and became an honor student right after being taken off fo the drugs. The Catholic school teachers were more abusive and so was the principle. I remember once when I was about 10 years old in the Girl Scouts the nuns accused us girls of being lesbians and made us do “penance.” I did not even know what a lesbian was. It was always pretty ridiculous to me. So in a sense I can say I had no religious training as a child since I really didnt internalize or believe any of it, ever. When I got into PA I felt I had escaped. Almost like I was in prison.
I said all of this to answer your question as to why children don’t tell.
Right before I left the Catholic school and church at the end of the 7th grade (understanding I already didn’t believe in this false religious system) my mom thought something was “wrong” with me because I hated my brother. So she sent me to the priest who my brother used to have camp outs with and over nights who was later on the news for molesting 300 boys. I told the priest I was raped by my brother. I did use the word rape. The priest told my parents nothing was wrong and it was just a plain old sibling rivalry. When the priest was accused my parents came to his defense. So though I already didn’t believe in this false religious system this is just to answer why children don’t tell. I did tell but it was ignored and then when I did tell my parents they asked why didn’t you tell us this before? Then my mom accused me of lying and being crazy and the usual. I think many children do tell but the adults in their lives say they don’t so they either can cover up their own wrong doing or ignore it so they don’t have to make any difficult decisions.


It is not just catholic’s that are abusive. I belonged and married in to a penticostal church and they were very abusive. When I left my ex-husband I went to a first asembaly and that pastor told me to repent of my evil ways and submit to my husband. I tried to tell him he was abusive to not only me but to my two girls. He said I must have a rebellious spirit in me and I had spread that demonic spirit to my girls. Then he shooed me out of his office because a woman wasn’t there to make sure I didn’t try to make sexual moves on him!!! SICK very sick people. I felt abused and beaten down. That was what the ex and his followers wanted.


I am doing ok. I have family stuff going on. I have pulled away from some family but im having problems with my daughter and the unsafe conditions my grandaughter is in. I read the blog then I get over whelmed. I dont like this blog about religion. I use to blame God the creator of ALL things and what did a blameless child do to deserve this abuse. I could never wrap my head around the justification of allowing abusers to distroy innocent children. I have been abused in the name of God, abused by man, abused by women. I wrote up above and though I could fill several pages it comes down to me not feeling good about religion. I have my own beleif and I keep that to myself.


Thanks for weighing in here. It seems that we are not strangers to being blamed by clergy and others for the problems that were placed upon us by religion. Pinky, growing up Catholic, you reminded me of another reason I couldn’t tell: the boys seemed to be a part of a secret society, being ushers or altar boys. I had no idea how secret it was until recently when it hit the press. Renee, It’s good to have your own personal beliefs. The blog is intended to be thought provoking, and it sounds like you’ve given religion a Lot of thought, especially with the Pentecostal religion. and Pam, I’ve heard that before, how people visit the Catholic church service and have no idea what’s going on. I feel relieved to have examined my beliefs because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have come to MY beliefs. It appears that we inherit beliefs along with the DNA.


Renee, I’m sorry about your daughter and grandaughter. That is heart wrenching, gut wrenching stuff. People that abuse will use anything that gives them power over another. I don’t confuse people with God. I’ve never been abused by God. He is the only reason I survived a lot of what I’ve survived.

It is amazing how scripture can be twisted with the whole submit to your husband thing. They leave out the rest which says that a husband is to give himself for his wife as Christ gave himself for the church. It is a beautiful picture of mutual submission and it makes me sick the way it gets used. It’s also sad when the abuse is adopted by an entire group of people and even becomes tradition. That’s the devil at work…

Anyway, I’m glad to see you back, renee.


@Lynn I do not agree at all on any level that we inherit our beliefs God has no grand children. I do understand that some people do but I did not! I did not want their poison on any level! I have always been a free thinker! I did not believe in God for many years then I came to faith as an adult.
I was very much involved at a famous nondenominational church with a famous pastor. It was a non denominational church but he was ordained Assembly of God. I was spiritual abuse of him that broke my heart and I had to distance myself from the church. Less than 2 weeks later he was killed in a tragic car accident. There is speculation even at Wikipedia that he killed himself due to emotional distress heaped upon him by the church.
Whether he did or not nobody knows. But the autopsy was covered up.He protected me at church as well as others in the congregation so we were not spiritually abused. But he was. If he did not kill himself we know for sure he was at least in emotional distress and since the church was in NYC he was kicked out and he was elderly should not have been driving which if he were in NY he wouldn’t need to drive. So even if he did not kill himself it was emotional distress and spiritual abuse that lead to his death. I think in the end spiritual abuse leads to death in one form or the other.
It happens all over the place in all religions. Many exposes have been written by women in the Muslim religion. On a side note it seems most cults involve sexual abuse on some level of minors or women.



Your story is so similar to mine.. I also told a priest but my mom n bro were both abusers.. my mom for p/a and s/a and my bro for s/a and when I told the priest i was made to feel so bad.. told I should apologize to God etc and if I was to earn forgiveness never to speak of what happens at home again

Regarding being accused for being a lesbian.. is that such a bad thing. I know . I am a little rebel.. in some ways but were the nuns saying its wrong be one? I guess back then it was and perhaps even now in the Catholic Church it is but the God I believe in loves everyone . the queer, the straight, the bi, the trans. and if I get kicked off the planet for saying so .. so be it..God will just have to take me then. .but God is not as narrow minded as humans are.

Love is love and if someone is attracted to people of the same sex over the opposite why make it wrong..! Let people love who they will..right?

I just get so upset that we make people into our own image and likeness and if God were to be here . God would be both male and female which would make GOd Bi? please dont call me a heretic but God made male and female in God’s likeness which means GOd must be both male and female!

I never told of the abuses done to me because i was told I wouldl be a judas f I did that the family would disown me etc etc. well I have spoken and I lost everyone

Please, no one get mad at me for saying its not wrong for someone to be a lesbian but I honestly believe this I believe people whould be allowed to be who they want and love who they want but .. again. I am a rebel.. and think God loves everyone


What Renee experienced and is going through really pains me. Pinky, I feel like I had to adapt to the beliefs of the family in order to belong. I also think I had so many questions that I dared not ask because I had original thoughts on the topic of God and religion, and those thoughts had to be suppressed. So I did not mean we inherit them like a genetic code. I really mean that in my case Catholicism was all that I was exposed to in relation to God, which ironically caused me to lose my relationship with God until I was old enough to let my own beliefs take shape, whether or not I was compliant to Catholicism. So I guess “instill” would have been a better word than “inherit.” You are powerful to maintain a freedom some children were denied; you have the freedom to think for yourself. Joy, I too believe that God loves everyone. The nuns/clergy were vehemently opposed to homosexuality, and they still are. Your phrase “be a Judas” rang a bell with me. Was I told that as a child? Gosh, it’s going to bother me, why that phrase has stung me. I know my brother told me I would be disowned if I told, and at the time I needed to belong. The truth is, I turned into a traitor to myself for not speaking the truth earlier. Now that I have, I disowned them. I’m sorry to hear there are so many stories of further emotional abuse by those in a position to help us.


@Joy, I understand what you are saying. I was not making a judgment on if it is right or wrong to be a lesbian just that it is ridiculous that at age 10 the nuns would even bring that up and “accuse” little kids of it. People are people and whether you believe it is a sin a choice or whatever , the gospel of the good news was absent!
@lynn I understand that I didnt feel the need to belong but I think that is because I always had a rich social life. I am 48 and still have the same childhood friends. At least the ones that are still alive. If you see my page at Facebook I have so many memorials so many are gone now. But I think God gave me those friends to help me survive and like Joy I was a rebel and I think that is healthy!
It was not that I was not pressured to believe a certain way but I did not care.
But I understand it. I do think the entire culture is in denial and tries so hard to silence truth tellers.That “whistle blower” at Rupert Murdochs media empire was killed because he exposed a truth that people did not want exposed. I was called a whistle blower in the news but I consider myself a truth teller. Th world kills truth tellers. They killed Jesus.



I knew you were not making a judgement but I get so upset about the “church’s ” stance then and now. It hasn’t changed.. That they used the word “lesbian” on children was awful….but what they did to children was so much worse



What you said about God creating man and woman in his image so God must be female/male. That is why I loved the “shack” because God came to the man and met his need. I have always beleived God was female/male. Now before everyone puts me on the chopping block let me explain. In order for him to be both he has to be made the same, SAME: heart, spirit,arms, legs,liver,kidney, etc. Where it changes is this he had to populate the world male-sperm, female-ovaries= love and pureness a child. It may seem misguided to you all but that is how I beleive. I keep my beliefs to myself because everyone I have ever mention my different way of looking at the bible I was ostersized. I feel good about my beleifs and if Jesus wants to change them he knows where I live! But man or female will not change it because it is THEIR understanding of the bible which is open to error.



I am right with you and have been cut off by many friends for my ideas but . GOd is not limited to our “Finite” “mortal” ways of thinking God is God :infinite, immortal and so far above our ability to understand..
I refuse to call God HE GOd is God

When the bible was written, for those who cling only to that.. it was during a time when women stayed at home with their heads covered..never would a woman dare stand up and preach God’s message..

I just want to live my life doing the right thing.. i think, for me. the right thing is accepting and loving everyone and not trying to pour everyone into the same mold.. as i think there is only one mold per person. no other will do.



I use to have visions and God would give me words of desernment. When I would stand up and say what God wanted me to say “because I was an outcast” no one beleived me. They always said I had a demonic spirit in me. Now others were respected and held in high esteem. The only thing is mine came to pass 100% the others were a hit and miss. Thats ok I did what I felt God wanted me to do, and beleive he uses all his children if they are willing.


@Joy, I understand. Since I went to a performing arts school literally almost all of the guys there were gay. My freshman year there were straight guys but once they graduated there were not any. I went on to become roommates with a few gay guys. What I have learned is that people are just people. And it is such hypocrisy in the church where everyone got crazy about the gay marriage thing yes there are children being molested in the church which is not only immoral but illegal. And if you want to get scientific about it,in 2009 Oprah did a scientific show about the degrees of homosexuality. These were scientific studies that said less than 1% of humanity is fully gay or fully straight. On a number from 1-10 most were in between. Even those considered flaming queens or the most masculine. I believe it was Masters and Johnsons. There was no scientific proof for being “born gay” or for being born anything else. The conclusion was that sexuality was fluid not rigid the way we like to label it as humans. If you make it an all scientific subject you have to then hate most of humanity. So there is no real reason to hate anybody even based on scientific proof. It is a very huge subject that there are books and opinions about that are endless. How the church deals with it is not biblical or scientific. Not to start a conversation about the levels of homosexuality just mentioning the study to say that science only has opinions we only have opinions. But I do know the bible that to love your neighbor as yourself. It does not exclude gays.
Now in the days of internet because that happened in the 60’s we would have looked up what lesbian was and maybe they would have got us involved with lesbian behavior by the power of suggestion.


I’m glad to see the discussion continues as to how we are shaped by religion. It’s also great that we can form our own beliefs. It’s healthy to discern what beliefs what not ours to begin with, but were beliefs placed upon us. I think that when we are not full of what others believe, we leave room for our own intuition to speak to us, and then we can think for ourselves.


Thank you. I am not Catholic, but from an Anabaptist background. Most people do not even realize that the Anabaptists are sooo far off in thier teaching. It is all law and no grace. Much of what Lynn said, I can relate too. I may have to end up changing my email just to stop the abuse. I hope you all don’t mind if I just spill. I am an auntie again. And I can’t even see my darling niece. Probably never will and not totally of my choice.
I just turned 21 a few weeks ago. It was a hard dday for me because I felt like I actually turned 21 3 years ago. Also, most young people don’t “Feel” they need Mom and Dad any longer. I am so far behind in my emotional development. I still need my Mom and Dad. True, it is probably more than some. But most people will not understand that I did not grow up with that and still feel a need for it. Also on my birthday, Kent, my bio dad, sent me an email. It was like a sympathy card… “know that you are longed for, greived over, and prayed for often.” What? So I died? Maybe to them I really did. Prayed for? What, that I’ll come back home to be abused? It feels so final. I knew that it was over, there was nothing left, but well, this makes that so final.
I’m mad at my bio mom for not standing up for me. All those years, and never one word of encouragement. Never Love, never safe touch. I don’t know if i even have a right to be mad at my mom. Did she really do anything? what could she have done? Yet this is what I feel. The Anabaptist group my bio parents are in is definitely a cult.
Today I got a letter -5 pages- from a Mennonite friend in South Wisconsin. She admitted that she doesn’t know all the details of what I went through, “But you still have to honor, love, respect your parents. You have to forgive.” If I hear cliches one more time I will scream. She went on to condemn me for everything. I have a group of “friends” that wrote me telling me that I was doing the worst things imaginable – pregnant, not married, alcoholic, on drugs, smoking, in porn shops, whatever. So I decided that I would give them something to talk about. Then I told them the truth. Yes, the truth of what I am doing and who I am. She condemned me for doing that. WHat, so they can think it but I can’t actually say it? I think I used up the strength and courage I had. Don’t know if I have any left for college.
I got all the fear lessons too. My background taught Jesus as tyrant, accessible only to men, example of submission to earthly fathers – even to death, example of how fathers make kids suffer – in every way- to show that they love thier kids, the more they make the kid suffer the more they love them. I feel kinda numb. Does my life really matter? Is there any purpose for me to be on earth? I have been severely depressed this week. Why should I keep going? Life is so painful. I think not living would be easier…..
Sorry guys for spilling like this.


Hi Kia
I am so sorry that you are going through such a tough time. It makes me angry when I hear people say that I have to honour love and respect my parents.. They don’t even know what they are saying.. it’s just words. Words from the mouths of robots. What does that mean? For me it means that they don’t know the true definition of love, honour or respect. I hear you Kia!
I felt that I still needed my parents until just a few years ago. It was a longing that I had always had. I don’t think that is anything to do with being behind in emotional development, I think it is about never having that need filled and dysfunctional families tend to convince the child that they need the parents instead of raising them to be self sufficient. Abusive people don’t want their victims to be free. They misuse their power that way. They lie about everything in order to control and manipulate.
Your life matters. When I stood up to abuse, I was rejected too. They did me a favour in the end. Now I don’t need them to prove to me that my life matters ~ they never would have said it did (in actions) anyway. I had some work to do ~ there were a lot of lies that I had to realize were lies, a lot of people who had defined me as “nothing” that I had to decide were wrong about me, but today I am strong and happy. You can get through this Kia. You have come so far already!
Hugs, Darlene


@Darlene, powerful words of encouragement! Your statement “Words from the mouths of robots” is very very powerful and I think it applies to all areas of life and religion. When anyone questions false authority they get attacked. I choreographed a dance piece when I was younger and though I dont remember the exact name of the price it was about people who were made to be robots such as in Catholic school and how breaking out of that is freeing. I think it is true any time you hear anyone spouting off cliches it is “Words from the mouths of robots.”Very powerful words!


Kia, I’m sorry for what you are going through, and for what others are putting you through. What your bio father said was like my step-father saying, “We never thought you’d make it.” On my 26th birthday. So they just give up? I don’t have much more to say because Darlene and Pinky offered such wonderful words of wisdom.


I feel like the little girl I was when I was being abused . .how I use to dread certain parts of the home.. .candles ..etc. Now grown up but little girl inside is still afraid. Now she is afraid to go shopping. Every time I do . I meet someone from the “church” who wants to let me know how bad I am. How terrible it is that I have just disappeared from church.

I only go shopping once a week but not am feeling just like me the little girl. I hate the idea of having to go shopping. there is only one store and I can only go on the day my ride is able .. saturdays. Seems like the whole church goes on Saturday.

I feel so small.. so hurt. .I loved those people so their words cut me to the very depths of my inner most being. I know I am a sinner in their eyes. but who are they to tell me I am . Who are they to judge me.

I am healing and in therapy. . must I be abused over and over by the judgements of uncaring people? If I were in the hospital . they would not expect me to come to church..would they .. or maybe they would.. I considere myself in intensive care.

I just begun my healng and the more they gripe and point their accusing fingers at me, the more certain I am that the old way could not have been God’s way.

I’m sorry for putting this here but I am broken from my last shopping visit. .a couple hours ago.. They play on my sensitivity. .”what a bad example for all the children you taught.. ” etc.

Why is it a bad exampel. what about them . has anyone come over to see if I have all I need. not one. .

So so crushed by make believe christians.



@Lynn thanks!


Hi Everyone,
I just wrote a post about Spiritual Abuse and the damage it does to children ~ and WE were those children… It’s a feisty one!
You can read it here.

Defining Spiritual Abuse and the Damage it does to US as children

I’m looking forward to the comments and feedback. Hugs, Darlene


Joy, I’m sorry I missed your comment #73. I can understand why going shopping can derail you. It sounds like there is no way to avoid these hurtful people? But it also sounds like you understand their hypocrisy because you say “the more certain I am that the old way could not have been God’s way.” That’s what we were trying to do with this blog post: examine the ways we took on their beliefs, and explore what our own authentic beliefs are. You are courageous to go your own way, away from that church.



I don’t feel courageous at all. I feel very deeply that pain caused by losing friends.merely because of religion. Religion isn’t suppose to divide or make people hate you . . Even if they thought I were a sinner.. no reason to treat me so badly . .after all Jesus ate with the sinner. and welcomed them..Seems so very messed up everything.

I wish I were stronger.. I cry many tears..every time I see them and have an encounter..

They are so holy and am a nothing but a sinner to them now. the bible verse goes . in the old testament “the one who ate my bread and shared my cup has turned against me ”

Had I did some grievous act. .I could understand but choosing to back away from the nonsense.. has got me a first class ticket to hell from them.

IT’s painful .. and I am dealing with it the best I can ..each time I try harder not to let them bully me or make me feel I have to go back to that type of abuse..



I used to hate it when people said to me “You are so strong” as if strength alone meant I did not need to be tended to while I was in emotional/psychological “intensive care.” I read the following definition of holiness in a book by a Catholic writer named Matthew Kelly “Holiness is the application of the values, principles, and spirit of the Gospel to the circumstances of our every day lives, one moment at a time.”
“Holiness is the goal of the Christian life.” “The surest signs of holiness are an insatiable desire to become all God created us to be, an unwavering commitment to the will of God.”
It sounds so painful to have lost your friends while determining what you need to become your true self.



I no longer have a “church” or denomination..I know in my heart the right things and I know that God needs on building . .God is a spirit.. and is everywhere we are. this is how I believe at moment .don’t know what I will believe later..

I know am not strong. I will never claim anything that is not mine . I wont claim abilities i dont have

one thing is certain . am very broken


sorry my words went backwards.. I mean to say God needs no building. sometimes I see backwards.. have to slow down….


Hi Joy,
You are stronger then you realize right now. Wait till you have some of this fresh stuff behind you and sorted out ~ you might realize just how strong you have been all along. They didn’t break you. You escaped.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene
I don’t know . today sorting. .and dealing with and feeling. Am so tired of being bad.. in other people’s eyes.. All I ever did was try to heal. I tried keeping quiet for so many years. and all that happened for that was I got re-abused over and over.. Everyone hurts me as they know they can and I hadn’t any way to stop them as no one ever told me I deserved to stop the mistreatment or did any one show me how.. All I am doing wrong is taking time finally to care about me. and seems people see that as selfish.. I hate shopping..!!


You can only do what you are capable in doing. I am hated by my family, you can ask them if they hate me and they will say no. But ask them when was the last time they spent time with me “just because” and they will say never (thats if they will tell you the truth). Asak them when was the last time they returned a call or facebook and the answer will be NOT. It hurts, I know your pain and it is not fair by any means! Just know we are here for you, we are not blood family but we are a family that cares for each other.
Many hugs and love


Hi Renee

I thank you for your very kind words and sorry for taking time to still dealing with things from yesterday. I know the facts of things but it doesn’t make my heart feel any less the pain caused by uncaring people ..or people who do things merely to put your down or put you in your they say..

I appreciate every person here and thank all those who reach out and are my virtual family. .tears are in my eyes just typing the word “family”…

I am so sorry that you have been pushed aside by your family. I understand that.

My family would “take me back” if I let go of “my ideas” and start coming to my senses.. If I would accept who calls the shots in my dysfunctional family. .etc. If I would apologize for being blind: tell the whole family i have made a mistkae . .that I was in the grips of the devil and want forgiveness and promise never to return to the path of error..they would take me back And if I promised to go to church and confess and stop taking therapy.. then and only then . if I did all these things I might be given a place in the their circle. but on probation. I was told all this when my mom last called.

If I let them put me down, run my life. and continue to abuse me. yea I will have a place. but I will be no better off then when I was a little girl ..

I am still afraid and little inside but i know that going back to them would be the biggest mistake I could ever make. THey never loved me but pretend to try to fish me over to them. If they could get me there. they would put me in my place and make sure i never shamed the family again.

Right now by family and my old friends, I am a sinner and should be ashamed of myself ..



Some family members will never understand when it is about YOU and not them. They made their choices, it’s time to make yours. I was watching past episodes of “Mad Men” which takes place in the sixties. One of the episodes showed a Catholic mass with people taking Communion, altar boys, and the sermon in Latin. It was a flashback for me, as my brother who “molested” me was an “altar boy.” I don’t miss anything about the church. When I went back to the same church I grew up in for funerals last year, and my brother was there, I was not creeped out because I knew the truth of my experience. My truth is all that matters to me. I’m sorry that your families don’t respect your needs (Renee and Joy). It seems like you know that if you go back to them, you will no better off, as Joy says. Renee, I can’t remember if there ever was a time I spent with my family “just because.” Time with me is only of value if there is something useful I can do for them.


Bless me father for I have sinned

( my confession to priest at 6 years old)

Bless me father for i have sinned
and am not old enough to confess
but need to tell you something
that has filled me with ugliness
will you father listen to me
for i am hurting deep inside
Mom and my brother hurt me badly
and i cried and cried

What did they do what did they say
you dont need to be here
you’re not old enough to know right from wrong
but tell me about it dear
Well father its like this you see
someone hurt me inside me
mom held me while my brother hurt me ‘
they hurt deep inside of me

what do you mean by saying this
stop talking this nonsense
i want you to go tell god your sorry ;
do this for your penance
dont ever speak of this again
if you do God will be very mad
you have made god upset with you
and you are very bad

I left the church that day wondering
why god was mad
when i was the one hurting inside
this all made me so sad
but i couldnt talk to anyone
or i would be considered bad
so i carried my secret around forever
which I wish I never had..



Joy, your poem is very poignant. I’m sad for the way you were treated. You expressed your story so well. I wonder now if God really gets “mad” at “His children”. It’s just another lie told to keep victims quiet.


Lynn thanks. I wish I can heal from that moment that makes me weep and write so much. that. moment when the priest refused to help me has caused such scars and trauma in my heart.


Hi Joy,
Thank you for sharing your poem. It is so very sad… I am so sad for you and what happened to you as a child. That “man” was so wrong. So very wrong for what he told you.
Hugs, Darlene



This is the hardest to get over.. this “man” was the one I should have been able to go to when all else fails and he failed. Its hard to believe much when what was believed is all wrong . . .



Joy, one good thing is that you realize that he failed you. My mode of thinking used to be that I had failed in some way, and I was to blame, and I was at fault. HE failed you. It is hard to create new beliefs in the face of realizing that what you learned and believed was wrong and a lie. But there is freedom in knowing that it was all a lie.
By writing this blog, and sharing it, and receiving feedback and input via everyone’s else’s experience, I have been questioning once again what I believe. I think I have left overs of what I “should” believe according to what I’ve been taught. It’s good to re-examine those beliefs.
I talked about some of these concepts in an interview hosted by Cyrus Webb. You can listen here:
He asked me challenging questions about faith. My opinion is that faith and beliefs are not constants, but are evolving concepts. What makes me feel good about this blog on EFB and Darlene’s series on religion is that WE, the participants, are wise and grown and brave enough to question what came before. Bravo!


Hi Lynn..

I know he failed me and understand it’s wrong. that moment left such deep scars in my mind. but the scars are more painful now that I am healing then back then.

Then I didnt realize how wrong it was.. now I do. I feel so so upset .that I gave so much energy .. i gave my life for a system that failed to help a little girl who so desperately sought someone to help her.. the one place and person . .who should have above others; stood beside the abuse. and spoke in the name of god that I was bad and displeasing

that made me grow up thinking all mom said of me was true.that is: i was nothing but a mistake and should be grateful for the roof they put over my head even though beatings were my daily routine..

now I struggle to feel worthy. and undo all those lies.. even now there was a sibling called and said .. let bygones be bygones.. mom couldnt help what she did .. la la la…

all my life i kept everything bottled up because everyone expected me to..and almighty church told me to do otherwise was wrong..

no more though..even if i cry as i do so.. i will do what i can to heal me and my little girl inside and somehow get some understanding of how to handle life as it comes to me…

i am so so stuck yet. . but i am trying to get out. and i know am make little advances to wholeness. .3 steps forward and 2 steps back …



Thank you sharing this. I was abused within the Baptist church by a pastor who told me i didn’t hear God right when i chose to leave an abusive husband. He had been into internet pornography for years and had gotten to where he would leave me at home alone with the kids, but then turn and be upset i spent no time with him. After we seperated my uusbands words became abusive and on two occasiions the police were called to our home. The pastor still told me i was wrong for the divorce. I was devistated to the point i found people to spend time with that were into drinking and doing drugs. I had never done these things before in my life. While i reaisted these things it didn’t stop me from having an affair with one man in the group. This in turn made me hate myself more and say “see i am not worth God loving me. I have left my husband for another man just as the pastor said.” thankfully a pastor at a church i started taking my kids to truly loved me with the grace of Jesus. Him and his wife have apent many hours listening to me, prayin for me, and just being friends. This pastor has corrected me when wrong, but he has never manupulated me with the Bible. My now exhusband still standa on the words of the abusive pastor stating that the divorce is all my fault as if divorce was the ultimate sin. He admits the way he treated me as states that he wouldn’t have done any of it if i wouldn’t have torn our family apart and that our lids hurting is because o left and not because of his treatment of me!
The road to healing has been long and hard. I do miss my nuclear family, but the kids an i see the abuse it was and ate happy without it. I never in my life would have thought that i would be a survivor of abuse. We were the perfect family who were church going the entire time. I took me a long time to even admit that both my husband and the pastor were wrong. Thankfully i can showy children somethin better.

Thank you for sharing and helping to valudate others!


Hi Laura
Welcome to EFB
What that pastor told you is horrible. Why would God want anyone to stay with an abusive husband!
I totally relate to your story and I have written a lot in this website about how being defined as unworthy led me down a path to proving to myself that it was ture. (and how I found out that it was NOT true at all, and went back to the original lies that I was fed and sorted out the damage they did to me)
I am so happy without the abuse too! Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

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