When God-Talk or Religion Is Part of Abuse

When God-Talk or Religion Is Part of Abuse

When religion, church, God-talk, or spirituality is included as an aspect of abuse it becomes even more damaging. It’s bad enough that your body and soul are hurt in the process; it’s even worse when your spirit is abused and assaulted at the same time.

The numbers of people affected by domestic violence, sexual abuse, or physical abuse is high. And there’s a better than one-in-four chance that one of them is you.

Although there are few good studies, by the raw numbers domestic violence and child abuse is not much different among Christians than among non-Christians. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. Sadly, a Bible on the table or attending church doesn’t prevent the violence that too often happens behind closed doors.

When the abuser uses spiritual jargon to justify the abuse it adds a further dimension to the healing that is needed. The abuser may be a priest, minister, or leader in the church while becoming violent at home. The offender may use Bible verses to justify the abuse. Scripture, church, prayer, and thoughts about God become all mixed in with the emotions and pain of the abuse.

When religion is a component of abuse or violence, it creates extra challenges for healing:

  1. Your picture of God becomes distorted. Whether or not you intellectually believe in a good God, your feelings and unconscious responses to and about God are altered. Part of you sees God as hurtful and abusive too.
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MEMO: Getting Past Your Past

Have you ever felt really stuck? I don’t mean you’re simply at a loss for words when writing a business proposal or a school assignment. I mean something big has its claws in your brain and you feel like you just can’t move. No matter how hard you try you can’t get rid of the baggage that is weighing you down and holding you back.

That “something big” could be any number of things. It might be:

  • a troubled or abusive childhood
  • domestic violence
  • a history of mental illness
  • an addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or gambling
  • a series of failed relationships
  • sexual indiscretions
  • a divorce
  • a business failure
  • an abortion
  • the death of a loved one

As Patrick Dempsey says to Reece Witherspoon in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, “So you have a past. Who doesn’t?”

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5 Things to be Angry About

5 Things to be Angry About

It’s good to be angry! There are some things to be angry about. If you are not angry at intolerable evil, you will never have the motivation to do something about it.

This past week many of us have been angry over the terrorist bombings in Boston. And rightfully so! Anger provides the emotional energy to push back against things that are wrong. Sometimes we push that anger away too quickly. Anger is our warning light that something needs to change. When the problem is outside of our ability to control we cannot always accomplish all the change we would like to. But we can do something! Paying attention to the anger is important.

Here are some things I hope each of us is angry about:

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When Only Tears Will Do

When Only Tears Will Do

Last weekend I was around plenty of tears. This time they were not mine, but those of other women sharing their stories.

I had been invited to be part of a conference on domestic violence, addressing the emotional, physical, legal, and spiritual aspects of this terrible reality. During the final session the participants were invited to say whatever they wished, and they started sharing their stories.

And they cried!

Some of these brave women had experienced physical and sexual child abuse and had grown up to believe that was the only thing they deserved. Some had watched their mothers be abused, had experienced it themselves, and now were struggling with their own children’s experience of trauma. Men were there too, and told of their own victimization.

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