Spiritual Abuse Help

Sites that Provide Help and Information Regarding Spiritual Abuse

Are You Ready to Find a New Church?  Good guidelines here!

Church Exiters Dr. Barb Orlowski

Fingerprints of a False Teacher by Pastor Ken Garrett

Going Back to Church? Some Thoughts to Consider:  Blog readers compile a list:  what helped, what to look for, what to avoid when going back to church after spiritual abuse.

Provender:  "A clearinghouse of sources on spiritual abuse and cult-like practices in groups and churches. "

Recovering from Churches that Abuse - Ron Enroth, Free Online Book

Under Much Grace

VM Life Resources  Informative website from people who were involved in Dallas cult.  Very good information and helps.

Series:  Sheep Among Wolves by John MacArthur (regarding false teachers)

The Dark Side of Spiritual Abuse blog series by Philip Harelson

Brad Sargent has compiled a listing of books dealing with spiritual abuse and recovery here


Churches that Abuse by Ron Enroth

Recovering from Churches that Abuse

by Ron Enroth

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse 
by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen

Toxic Faith by Stephen Arteburn and Jack Felton

Spiritual Abuse Recovery

by Barb Orlowski


False Teacher:  The False Teacher is a person who presents himself to the Christian church as a legitimate teacher, but harbors the deep-set desire to gain control of the church in order to gain personal benefit from the members of the church. 

The "Inner Circle":  This concept is discussed here.  People in the inner circle feed the pastor's ego and will go to great lengths to defend and protect him.  They have a strong bond and most likely get preferential treatment or some kind of emotional reward for feeding the ego.  The pattern is they will report any kind of suspicious activity to the leader, any dissension in the group, anyone who may not be fully on board.

Commenter Lyida Thomas describes her "inner circle" experience.

No talk rule:  In abusive spiritual systems, people's lives are controlled from the outside in by rules, spoken and unspoken. Unspoken rules are those that govern unhealthy churches or families but are not said out loud. Because they are not said out loud, you don't find out that they're there until you break them.

The most powerful of all unspoken rules in the abusive system is what we have already termed the "can't talk" rule. The "can't talk" [rule] has this thinking behind it: "The real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change; so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by assault (legalistic attack). If you speak about the problem, you are the problem. (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse By David Johnson and Jeff Vanvonderen (Bethany House, 1991, 2005))

Spiritual Abuse:  Spiritual abuse is a spiritual role-reversal where a shepherd, instead of clinging to and emulating the Great Shepherd by shepherding God’s people (Acts 20; 1 Peter 5; 1 Timothy 3; Ephesians 4), subtly demands that members exist to meet the shepherd’s needs (James 4:1-4). Rather than relating as a servant leader, the pastor “pulls rank” and “lords it over others” (Matthew 20:20-28; 1 Peter 5:1-6), not for the benefit of the flock, but for the benefit of the pastor. Rather than speaking the truth in love and rather than ministering grace and truth (Ephesians 4:11-16, 29; Colossians 4:3-6; Titus 2:10-12), the spiritually abusive pastor intimidates, judges, condemns, shames, and blames the sheep without regard for the spiritual wellbeing of the sheep (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Matthew 23:1-39).  Definition from Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition


Elephant in the Room

Elitism:  A common trait in spiritually abusive churches is elitism.   If we are so special, and all others churches are inferior, who wants to attend an inferior church?  Elitism is a manipulation tactic to keep people at the church.  And it works powerfully because we become convinced that no other church will measure up.

Trigger:  From Wikipedia:  
trauma trigger is an experience that triggers a traumatic memory in someone who has experienced trauma. A trigger is thus a troubling reminder of a traumatic event, although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic. 
Triggers can be quite diverse, appearing in the form of individual people, places, noises, images, smells, tastes, emotions, animals, films, scenes within films, dates of the year, tones of voice, body positions, bodily sensations, weather conditions, time factors, or combinations thereof. Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate, and can sometimes exacerbate post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition in which trauma survivors cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms, or of repressed memory.  A trauma trigger may also be referred to as a trauma stimulus or a trauma stressor.

Spiritual Abuse: Verses Pastors Twist and Misuse to Control
This is a compilation of commonly used verses pastors used to control, manipulate, and abuse.


Bent Meyer of Paradigm Counseling of Puget Sound:  Bent Meyer is a licensed mental health counselor associate who specializes in counseling those who have been spiritually abused.

Spiritual Abuse Recovery:  "My name is Brandon Santan and I'm a counselor specializing in Spiritual Abuse Recovery. I know what it's like. I was in a spiritually abusive environment for over 25 years which resulted in a roller coaster ride of emotions and crisis of faith. Never in my life have I experienced the grace of God like I did when I found out the truth regarding the spiritual abuse I had experienced."  Brandon provides distance counseling online and via telephone.  

Symboulous Ministries:  It is with great respect that I dedicate Symboulos Ministries to my brothers and sisters in Christ who have suffered the trauma and negative repercussions of spiritual abuse, and yet refuse to count themselves among “those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Heb. 10:39 ESV
-Bob Dixon, Founder Symboulos Ministries

Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center
"Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center is a residential treatment center for those who have been abused in relationships, cults, situations of trauma, and by destructive therapeutic alliances resulting in emotional betrayal and/or physical harm. We offer hope and help through a program of counseling, education, and retreat."


How to Resign from a Church

Some pastors/churches harass people after they leave.  Send a certified letter to your former church using this as an example to establish that you have officially left and inform them they do not have permission to contact you, discuss you, etc. 


  1. Jesus is on the MOVE! HE is unhappy with "christians" using HIS name for control, power, and political/monetary gain.

  2. I had horrific issues after leaving a Bible Based Fundamentalist cult, and in 1993, I had no computer, no TV, no understanding how to gain access to help. I found the Cult Awareness Network, who were a huge help, but they were, then, geared for support Family of Cult members. Scientology actually wore them out with Lawsuits, and we ended up losing the group as we knew it, the name, our members personal info, everything. Please, get the very best legal representation you can, and always be aware that the Church of Scientology looks for cases such as yours to defame dissenters, regardless of the belief system of the "church" involved. They will back the church financially, and no matter how absurd the suits, the motions, they will drain you dry financially, that is their goal along with defaming you. Good luck in your endeavor, tread lightly and seek the very best legal advice you can afford~!!!

  3. thank you for providing these links

  4. Please check:


    A lot of people are seeing the truth

    I had to leave

  5. Gaellen,

    To try to answer your comment: That would be the simple answer, to just leave. Spiritual abuse is way more complex than that. It may be as complex as the woman in a domestic violence situation--why doesn't she just leave, question. If you have heard testimony from women in these situations then you understand 'why' they do not just leave.

    All that to say that there are numerous and complex factors and just saying, Why don't people just leave, is not the full answer. People need to have a dawning understanding that they are suffering under a subtle form of spiritual abuse. As a few wake up and recognize this, then there is a chance that they will eventually leave, along with others. The question is: Why do others still stay??

    There are many groups, bloggers, and those with websites who are working hard at raising the awareness about spiritual abuse in the church today.

    You might be interested in my website: www.ChurchExiters.com.

    My website techie has just posted some of my recent articles. I invite people to check them out:
    1. From Trust to Dust, Leadership Disillusionment
    2. Healthy or Toxic? Checking the spiritual air quality in a church 3. John 9 Reflections from the story of the Blind Man who was healed and then excommunicated from his group.
    4. Gleanings from the Gospel of John--Jesus and the Pharisees and other insights.

  6. i hope this cult gets closed down

  7. Spiritual abuse is so evil because those that are abused are seeking God while His so called representatives are abusing them for hidden agendas. This abuse does not separate the abused from the church but many times from God himself.

    I believe we as believers have lost the backbone to stand against false teachers and or abusers. Remaining silent, we become part of the problem because the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

    When we become aware of a problem, we are obligated to stand. God has clearly laid out the process. 1. When there is a problem go privately to the individual. This will clear up any misunderstandings and can facilitate restoration while saving face for the erring party. 2. If that does not work, we escalate to repeat the process with a witness or two. 3. Once and only after that fails, we take it to the church as an objective review.

    However if the process is blocked (normally by the abuseres who have a don't talk rule) then that leaves little recourse but to widen and escalate. My advice would be to appeal to local churches to intervene. Unfortunately, most churches will take a hands off approach leaving the victim who has a right, no a duty to protect themselves from damage, defensless with not much other choice than to go public.

    Unfortunately this may draw criticism from well meaning but misguided believers who will say things like "let go and let God take care of it".

    We would not tell our daughters not to scream if they are being raped by a pastor, would we.

    We would not shame her, telling her to not bring the church under criticism and keep quiet.

    When there is the possibility of spiritual abuse, we fellow believers should get involved, take a stand for the abused against the abusers. Christ had no problem denouncing the hypocritical religious leaders calling out their deeds.

    We fellow believers, can and should exert what influence and pressure we can bring to bare. I suggest we call the pastor and ask him if biblical steps have been taken. Righteousness and Truth works towards disclosure, evil will try to prevent open discussion.

    When we get the facts. Be willing to take the heat and take a stand for what is right.

    www.Halorepair.com may be a source to help.

    Mario Palermo

    Add comment

  8. Thank you, Mario. As I was reading through your checklist, it was reassuring to know that all possible avenues were exhausted before taking a stand and speaking out and taking a stand.

  9. Went to a church that I would consider abusive. After leaving there, healing came rapidly for my wife and me. Thirty years later, my children are still feeling the negative effects.
    I am grateful for Julie Anne and her blog. It has brought back memories that are not so good but I really think my wife and I are much stronger today because we worked through the situation.
    The books I purchased were "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" and "Churches that Abuse". I would highly recommend both of these books. The "No Talk Rule" was very much enforce at the church and yes, I was called into the office a few times to have it firmly explained to me. We heard from the pulpit such things as "we are going to ask God to kill your children if you don't tithe and we will pray that God will destroy your finances for not tithing. Of course, having your kids in their school was mandatory.
    After leaving, we found the freedom in Christ that I believe God intended for us to enjoy. I found out that I was a child of the King, righteous before Him and was loved unconditionally, not some worm crawling around in the garbage pit. PTL. Now I tithe because I love him and want to and not because I have to. I go to church when the doors are open for the same reason.
    I felt free to join an organization that gives out Bibles because the church I now go to says its OK to be using one's time for ministry other than my church.
    Praise God, there is life and joy after abuse.

  10. Be very careful of what you label as a cult. Jesus was tagged as a cult leader. There is a man who who wrote a book "Kingdom of the Cults" and many other cult exposing books. I felt the ugliest spirit while reading his writings, he pretty much exposes every denomination as a cult except the Baptist Church. Also every Christian group that does not have an affiliation with them. Much the same way Republicans and Democrats black list any other party, because it threatens their control over the voters. Some how it has been established that a true Christian looks like a business man, a true Christian church looks like an entertainment center, a competition of who puts on the most entertaining show on Sunday. The Mainstream Christian Churches have become blind as a bat spiritually, they have fallen in the ditch and want to pull everyone in with them. Sincerely pray to the Lord and ask Him to lead you to the true church, He won't lead you astray. Pray about everything and listen closely to what the Lord is saying.

  11. The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world. it is not a business that sends it's employee's to Spa's and Resorts to relax and have massages and decadent meals and rooms. Nor does it take your money for conferences. Prayer is your greatest resource. If you sincerely pray for God's guidence and will listen to His council, He will keep you safe and put you on the path. So called Godly men and women and their big ideas will lead you astray. there is no scripture for their preposterous proposals. Follow the Shepard, listen only to His voice. He said, my sheep know my voice. Follow Jesus!

  12. Another good book on spiritual abuse is:


Please refrain from using "Anonymous" as your user ID. Instead, click on Name/URL. In the "name" field, type your pseudonym, ie, Fred Flinstone.

You may leave the URL field blank. Thank you for commenting!

I reserve the right to remove or not publish disruptive and/or rude comments.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.