Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional abuse focused on a victim's core self, sense of spirituality, or religious identity. It may be connected to a specific faith or religion, or to the victim's sense of personal spirituality.

Spiritual abuse is often used to justify other abusive actions, and to maintain power and control in a relationship. Often, the victim will feel powerless to do anything about the abuse due to misinterpretations of scriptures and religious teaching. This can create isolation within the religious community, as well as a feeling of hopelessness and fear; the victim may feel they must choose between their physical/emotional well-being and their faith.

Are you experiencing spiritual abuse? This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Citing scripture to justify behavior
  • Denying your freedom to practice (or not practice) a particular religion.
  • Forcing you to go against your religion or religious beliefs (i.e. planning things on religious holidays so you are unable to observe)
  • Shaming, belittling, or not validating your religious practice or beliefs
  • Using an interpretation of scripture or other religious teachings/writings to enforce demands
  • Instilling religious guilt for not doing what they want you to do (i.e. "A good Christian forgives")
  • Using marital entitlement to justify sexual demands, including forced sex (i.e. marital rape)
  • Involving or forcing children to witness ritual abuse
  • Manipulating others in their religious communities to control and ostracize you