emotional and spiritual abuse within the church

While common, spiritual abuse can be difficult to recognize. The line between abuse and influence can sometimes be blurry. Spiritual abuse is not limited to a specific religion or denomination. It can be challenging to identify, especially in environments where negative or hard things are not discussed. It involves the practice of twisting and confusing someone’s core beliefs to make them more easily controlled.

We Define Child Exploitation As

Using a Child for Another Person’s Gain or Benefit

We have purposefully used the word “exploitation” over many other more common descriptions for a purposeful reason. The phrase “child exploitation” helps us begin to dialogue about the macro connections between all the types of exploitation faced by children.

Red Flags of Spiritual Abuse

  • Intense shame from spiritual abuse becomes the primary red flag that it exists.
  • Being threatened or reprimanded for questioning the religion, group, or leader’s teachings.
  • Uses exclusive language or “us vs. them” mentality when referring to those who do not adhere to or attend the same religious group.
  • Forces a child to participate in certain rituals such as prayer, worship, communion, bowing, public displays of adherence, etc.
  • Force a child to remain in a religious group or environment where a traumatic event occurred.
  • To deny or disregard the child’s negative experience will teach them they cannot expect to be protected from harm, even by their parents.
  • Scriptures, religious texts, or beliefs are used to justify harmful or abusive behaviors.

The Severe Damage of Spiritual Abuse

Many people are unaware that spiritual abuse exists. Often, those who have little “red flags” easily dismiss concerns due to their loyalty and devotion to their beliefs/leaders/group/religion. Because someone’s spiritual beliefs are intensely personal, abuse in this area can be one of the most damaging and earth-shattering to victims. Also, those who have experienced trauma in their past are more susceptible to the damaging effects of this form of abuse. With their hope rooted in their spirituality any form of abuse in that once safe arena, they lose all hope and many walk away from their faith entirely.

Join the Movement to PREVENT child Exploitation!

There is always a starting point for every great movement—a place where you become aware of a need and decide to be the solution.  Join the mass movement of adults around the nation who are gaining the knowledge & skills needed to protect children!

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