I define religious abuse as physical, sexual and human rights abuses that are justified by religious dogma and religious opportunists. Spiritual abuse is abuse of the human spirit and exists within many of our beliefs in the form of fear, which is often disguised as love. These beliefs prevent us from connecting to ourselves and to Spirit, and prevent us from experiencing unconditional love. These fear-based beliefs result in trauma that manifest in the same way as emotional abuse, leaving individuals who are filled with shame, guilt, resentment and depression. Our beliefs teach us we are born sinners, that we are to be ashamed of ourselves for our actions, that we don’t deserve to be in the presence of God and that we can’t possibly live up to God’s expectations of us, and so on. These beliefs not only traumatize us emotionally, they cause trauma to the soul and affect our beliefs about our soul’s worth.
We are told to believe in an unconditionally loving God, yet in the same token we are given a long list of conditions under which God will love us. We are told that we are separate from God and we are separate from love, and that both need to be painfully earned outside of ourselves through our actions. Most of us have been taught to love each other as God loves us. Our understanding of God’s love is conditional; therefore our love of others is conditional. We have been taught to love each other as we love ourselves, yet fear, guilt, shame, resentment and judgment about our own worth is reflected in the judgments we have toward others. How can we possibly love each other without condition when we don’t have unconditional love for ourselves?
The self-loathing that is induced by our fear-based beliefs causes spiritual trauma. In order to heal this trauma we must first recognize the difference between spirituality and religion. Spirit is energy, and spirituality is the energetic essence of who we are. Connecting to spirituality is learning to connect to who we really are, deep within the core of our being, and understanding our true self. It is that part of us that is all-knowing and is connected to Infinite Intelligence, not the fear filled beliefs in our mind. Our beliefs are a result of messages we have picked up throughout our lifetime and we assumed were real. Once we learn to analyze our beliefs and see how they resonate deep within us, we can determine which beliefs are in alignment with our inner truth.
Recovering from spiritual abuse can be a long and often painful process because it causes us to reevaluate everything we think we know. As we peel off the layers of fear, face the source of the pain and learn to change our perceptions of our life experiences, the trauma associated with our beliefs begin to lift away. Love is the energy that heals all things and when we face our fears with love and compassion, our fears no longer have any control in our life. Every belief about who we think we are, why we are here and what is expected of us will come under scrutiny. Only when we do the inner work can we truly know our own individual journey, our own unique spiritual experience and our own path. All transformation must begin within ourselves.
It is my understanding that we have come to a place in our collective evolution where we can comprehend the mind, body and soul connection, and see how soul trauma manifests as physical disease. Just as psychological and emotional abuse leads to physical disease, so does spiritual abuse. And just as psychotherapy eventually became recognized as a legitimate form of treatment, I feel that spiritual therapy will someday be recognized. While some may claim that this therapy is already being provided at church, there is often a hidden agenda, which is to propagate the very beliefs in which the abuse occurred. We cannot heal the damage to our mind, heart, soul or body by repeating old patterns. As a result of this understanding we will see the emergence of more professionals such as Judith Orloff, M.D. and other enlightened therapists. This emerging field of professionally trained experts can, and will, bring about the healing of humanity, and assist the global transformation from a world based in fear to a world based in love.