I remember the first time I heard the term spiritual abuse, and I immediately went to the examples I had read about growing up….controlling spiritual leaders, that demanded crazy loyalty to their version of the truth. I always thought that was the meaning of those words, until I began to realize that spiritual abuse comes in many forms, and sometimes from well intentioned, caring people.
Unfortunately, spiritual abuse can lead to religious trauma. Religious trauma often comes from a sense of religious shaming, betrayal, and loss of community. Symptoms of religious trauma vary, but they may include low self-esteem, feeling directionless, and intensified anxiety and depression.
Those realities can be intensified if the sole source of help for feelings of anxiety and depression are only found in the faith structure or relationships. Being unable to ask for help from outside sources for the abuse, can further isolate, and create unhealthy shame.
When I have experienced spiritual abuse, I have experienced feelings of powerlessness, anxiety, fear, and loss of control. Thankfully, I had the resources in safe relationships to process the loss that I experienced.
If you are looking for help in resolving the impact of spiritual abuse/ religious trauma, you may find help in the container of therapy, and potentially in EMDR or Ketamine assisted therapy.