This forum is a virtual support group for former cult members, as well as a resource for those who want to understand cults and spiritual abuse.
Spiritual Recovery Forum
This forum is a virtual support group for those who have been spiritually abused and/or members of a religious cult, as well as a resource for those who want to understand cults and spiritual abuse.
"Within a healthy religious environment, family bonds are upheld and even strengthened, questioning of the leader and basic tenets is accepted, and the leader lives in a similar manner to the followers. One is offered all the information necessary to make an educated decision about joining, and once involved, people can choose the amount of involvement that feels right to them. A cultic environment tears families apart, does not accept any questioning, and has a leader who claims to have an exalted position and to be above reproach. The cult is designed to solely advance its own goals, to abuse the members' trust, and to use fear and shame to manipulate the followers. It freely utilizes deceptive techniques while recruiting new members and fundraising, misuses scripture, and declares other belief systems as false. Because it is not under the umbrella of a recognized religion, there is no governing body and the leader is, therefore, free to do as he or she pleases." - Cult Clinic
"While it is clear that ordinary, healthy people may become entrapped in prolonged abusive situations, it is equally clear that after their escape they are no longer ordinary or healthy. Chronic abuse causes serious psychological harm." - Trauma and Recovery by Dr. Judith Herman
What is spiritual abuse?
Spiritual abuse is "the use of God, religion, or other spiritual concepts as tools to gain power and control by the abuser." "When God is used as the weapon of power and control, spiritual abuse can occur. ...the consequences of spiritual abuse can be just as powerful as the other types of abuse (e.g., physical, emotional, verbal, sexual) that are more readily identified in psychology. Consequences may include high levels of shame, self-loathing, addictive patterns of behavior, self-mutilating and self-injurious behaviors, and many of the symptoms that we normally associate with post-traumatic stress." - Jamie Marich Full article
"Just as emotional abuse affects one emotionally, while physical abuse inflicts pain and bodily injury on its victim, spiritual abuse affects one spiritually. It is the result of a spiritual leader or system that tries to control, manipulate, or dominate a person. This control is often in the form of fear. This is considered a major factor in mind control or thought reform. There are those who feel the latter comes into play in cases such as these, while others feel the thinking is in error. No matter where one stands, it does not lessen the effects of spiritual abuse." -SpiritualAbuse.org
Rafael Martinez, co-director of Spiritwatch Ministries, describes an abusive religious group: "Complete with authoritarian leadership and a viciously antisocial dogmatism tinged with [twisted doctrines], it uses cultic mind control in a religious culture that spiritually abuses those who find themselves unable to meet up with all of its ideals. ...Testimony after testimony of victims may be cited where their marriages, family ties, personal needs, fortunes, and goods have been ruthlessly and intentionally plundered to advance the group agenda through blatantly authoritarian means. [They practice] coldly unethical and deliberate manipulations of idealistic people looking for a cause to rally around, and a purpose for life."
What is a cult?