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