Leaving a spiritually abusive church is one of the most difficult and stress inducing decisions a person can make. It ranks right up there with experiencing the death of a loved one, especially if you are alone when you do it. The difficulty is in the degree of restrictiveness of the church. The more restrictive, the greater the chance of depression or even a return to what you left behind.
The penalties for misbehavior are usually not as obvious as in other types of abuse. The penalties attempt to damage your character and demean you. In some cases make you less than human. The worse part is the effects of group guilt. Group guilt can keep people in line by echoing the source of guilt so that it is reinforced time and time again. When a person recognizes this, although not knowing what to call it, they stand out like a sore thumb and are now subjected to ridicule from the group at large for no longer being submissive. This will either guilt them back into the group or the person will spin out of the group taking the full onslaught of damages with them. Damages can include loss of privileges, damaged relationships, loss of job, loss of family, character assassination, disrespect, isolation, and/or depression.
More than likely the person experiencing this has no other friends he has made except those among the church. He takes a chance on stepping away from all of that and relying solely on what little faith he has. Certainly there are more successes based on that little bit of faith than on the faith espoused by the mega churches. That little bit of faith can gain a person freedom from tyranny. Jesus already tells us that we may lose mothers, fathers, or brothers for the sake of him but get it all back.
When you think about it, was not Jesus himself subject to severe abuse from his own people? From the Jewish leaders’ perspective, they were just keeping order and discipline. Were not some of Jesus own relatives supporting his crucifixion? Satan truly blinds the minds of the unbelievers by shrouding it in the subtle mental gymnastics of spiritual abuse.
To escape it, you will pay a price. It may be family, friends, or status. Jesus already said that if you give up these things for his sake you will get it all back. Each person’s circumstances are different so no one can really know where your particular road will take you. Prayerfully, it doesn’t take you down the road of despair. The pain of separation, from family and the absolute ugliness of seeming hate from once supportive people, has brought some to take their own lives.
This year, one young married mother of two took her life after attempting to remove herself from an abusive church. The level of abuse was so disturbing that her devout husband was unwilling to give her a proper burial because she did not conform to church standards. She now lies in a pauper’s grave. Those children to this day will not be told what occurred with their mother or even if she was a good person. All because of upholding church standards.
The people waking up from spiritual abuse are targets and usually have no one near them to support them. They are technically road kill on history’s roadway. They are either forgotten or their name is maligned as a heathen or religious upstart. The road of escape is not easy and it is often lonely so it is suggested that you cultivate a personal relationship with God to sustain you. You can absolutely talk with Jesus through prayer. He is our Lord and Savior leading us to God.
May God bless your journey.