Blog Post by Sister Diane Foster

Spiritual Abuse (3)

More and more people are waking up to the devastating effect of Spiritual Abuse. The sounds of whistleblowing are reaching into our Yahudim Kingdom. So much so that both men and women are breaking away from the bondage in which they found themselves; someone reading this blog may know of someone who was personally involved in such an entrapment, or as Scripture reads, were laden with heavy burdens (Matthew 23:4). Cries, sometimes angry or confused, or hurt cries ring out and because of this, because of the screams and reports of these bruised children of Yah, many, such as myself, are asking more questions to offer love, hope, and most importantly, awareness. Isaiah 42:3 reads: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.” This passage of Scripture speaks of Yahusha and Yahuah’s chosen. We are Yahuah’s chosen, and others seek to oppress those who want to be in a Holy relationship with Him.


Spiritual Abuse, what is it? Is Spiritual Abuse something new, or does it go back to biblical times? Does Spiritual Abuse fulfill a purpose? Is it for power or other reasons? Is there a correlation between Spiritual Abuse and narcissism? Then, there is the concept of abusive leaders who disciple others to become like-minded offensive leaders. “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert, and when you succeed, you make them (emphasis mine) twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are! (Matthew 23:15). These are strong words. Strong words deserve strong attention. Nothing is new under the sun, and this apostasy has crept into Yahudi communities. Spiritual Abuse is not a recent occurrence, so how prevalent is it? Finding a generalized definition is complex. Abuse may happen because of the nature of the many ways one person or group chooses to have control of another. There seems to be no one definition of Spiritual Abuse.


How do the tender hearts of Yah’s children become entrapped? What draws them? Once they discover the truth, how do they escape? How do we warn others? What signs should they look for to keep them from falling prey? What have others said concerning their experiences in these groups, and how did they escape? Answering these questions cannot be addressed in one blog; therefore, this topic will consist of a series of blogs. Continue to return to see where the Spirit of Yah leads. The blog starts with listing a few definitions to give you, the reader, a broad view of what encompasses Spiritual Abuse. It will show that Spiritual Abuse is centuries old. Giving statistics is necessary to illustrate its dominance today. This is done so that first-time readers may gain knowledge and solidify the truth for those already aware of this evil. The blog is rather lengthy, so make yourself comfortable, sit down, relax, and let’s begin.


What is Spiritual Abuse?


Spiritual Abuse is “any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs can be spiritual Abuse. Spiritual Abuse can happen within a religious organization or a personal relationship. Spiritual Abuse is not limited to one religion, denomination, or group of people. Abuse can cause serious trauma and significantly impact your mental health. It’s important to remember that Abuse is never your fault.” (


Abuse takes many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, social, and spiritual. Each of these definitions is relevant across all denominations. It’s relatively simple to recognize physical Abuse as Abuse (though, of course, not always). Spiritual Abuse can be mislabelled as spiritual zeal or even spiritual maturity. 



Though there are various definitions given to Spiritual Abuse, there is a common thread that weaves between them all. Let’s take a look.


  • Exploit the doctrine of our fallenness to accuse, berate, critique, attack, belittle, condemn, or produce guilt in the victim.


  • Exploit the doctrine of our fallenness to excuse or minimize the severity of their behavior.


  • Exploit the doctrines of forgiveness and reconciliation to demand that a victim forgive the Abuse, even if there has been no genuine repentance.


  • Use the busyness, stress, pressures, or responsibilities of ministry to excuse Abuse.


  • Use the Bible to justify abusive behavior and insinuate or explicitly state that if the victim understands the Bible differently, the difference of opinion is actually a product of sin.


  • Use the Christian (this article comes from a Christian website, however, as seen, the characteristics of spiritual Abuse crosses all religions) community to protect the abuser and isolate the victim. The abuser may make himself or herself vital to significant ministries.


  • Isolate their victims socially, making excuses why the victim cannot participate in social or spiritual gatherings and limiting their access to either information or support, or both.


  • Appeal to the work of evil spirits as explanations for the victim’s accusations or behavior.


  • Attribute accusations against them to the work of Satan.


  • Use Bible passages about generosity to justify controlling the victim’s access to money.


  • Use Bible passages about faithfulness in marriage to justify limiting the victim’s social life.


  • Use Bible passages about rebuking to justify verbal Abuse.


  • Use Bible passages about sexuality to justify rape and sexual assault.


  • Use Bible passages about unity to justify silencing the victim.


( characteristics_of_spiritual_abuse)


I decided to incorporate this full list to expose the full nature of Spiritual Abuse.


The blog master would like to pose a question to the readers before continuing. Does any of these descriptions fit the profile of someone you know who were or are victims of Spiritual Abuse? Could this person be you? If you responded “yes” to at least five of the questions or recognized over half of the characteristics listed, you were or are a victim of Spiritual Abuse or know someone who is. As this blog continues, some will realize that they are being spiritually abused and were not aware of it well until after the Abuse began.


Another vital element of this report is that Spiritual Abuse, like sin, has no respect for persons or groups. The spirit of Spiritual Abuse seeks all it can destroy. Before moving on, a few statistics are in order. Research in the field of Spiritual, Religion, and Mental Health has grown over the years. With the increase of the power and authority of misguided leadership, it is gathering more attention.


Additionally, this write-up shows that terms such as cults and sects are appropriate expressions according to the descriptions shown. Though some may debate the use of these terms for accuracy, this blog positions itself using biblical terms, showing these groups qualify to be called as such. Though the following data represent a small population of churches, the truth of the findings validates the common fact that Spiritual Abuse’s characteristics fit into a well-defined mold.


A questionnaire to investigate mainstream religious organizations’ experience with and attitudes toward Spiritual Abuse was conducted by the Spiritual Safe Haven Network (SSHN). This organization offers those who have experienced Spiritual Abuse a “safe haven” of spiritual solace, information, and community. In the final analysis, 10% of those surveyed (565) had experienced Spiritual Abuse or knew someone who had. Both males and females participated in the survey. What SSHN found was of significant similarity to the characteristics described above. Given the high levels of concern among respondents, religious organizations should pay attention to these figures, for 10% is a sizeable number considering the data relates to people of Yahuah, regardless of the name they call Him. 


Respondents represented 23 males and 32 females. The most important question for this report is the number of people who believe they had been “affiliated with a group, organization, or individual they believed was spiritually abusive.” 13 of the respondents said “yes,” with 4 of the 13 saying they had been affiliated with more than one spiritually abusive environment. Those 13 people who said they had been affiliated with such an environment rated them 3.31, with 3 being moderate and 4 severe. 4 of the 13 said the Abuse had occurred “in a mainstream church denomination.” 1 said the Abuse occurred “in an atypical church within a mainstream denomination. 4 said it happened “in an unaffiliated or nondenominational church.” 5 reported that Abuse took place “in a cultic group.” 2 chose “other” for the site of the abuse. (The totals add up to more than 13 because some respondents reported more than one experience of Spiritual Abuse.)


It is noteworthy that, though Spiritual Abuse is often associated with cultic groups, most of these respondents reported that the abuse happened in mainstream or nondenominational churches. Another mention is the reported severity of these groups.



I will reiterate that you keep in mind that though the research was conducted in a church environment, the picture above crosses all religious boundaries.





Rather than “ruling out” the concept that organizations and groups who practice Spiritual Abuse are not sects or cults, this blog will “rule in” that they are.



The Oxford Dictionary defines a sect as a small group of people who belong to a particular religion but who have some beliefs or practices which separate them from the rest of the group.” It defines a cult as ​”a way of life, an attitude, an idea, etc., that has become very popular.”


Webster’s Dictionary defines sect this way. A body or number of persons united in tenets, chiefly in philosophy or religion, but constituting a distinct party by holding sentiments different from those of other men.”



It defines a cult as a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (false, fake, counterfeit).


Both definitions for cults and sects have similarities. They belong to a particular religion or philosophy, their beliefs are separate from others, and they are distinct. Additionally, these types are unorthodox (not holding the genuine doctrines of the Scriptures-Webster), not conforming to rules, traditions, or modes of conduct as a doctrine, religion, or philosophy; not orthodox: an unorthodox ideology.


If any of these definitions bring to mind anyone, perhaps yourself, who has been a victim of Spiritual Abuse, raise your hand. I will remind you that this blog may be somewhat lengthy, but it is necessary with the hope that it answers a lot of your questions. Let’s move on to cross-check these terms with Scripture.


Acts 15 tells the story of Paul and Barnabas going before the Jerusalem Council to convince them that Yahuah had made salvation available to the Gentiles. However, as they were presenting their case, this happens in verse 5:  But some of the sects of the Pharisees who believed rose, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”  There is a lot to this story and purpose to this chapter, but this blog will only focus on the word “sect” in the conversation.


According to Scripture, there seems to be little to no distinction between the words sect and heresy. As a matter of record, both words have the same Strongs number, G139. In one instance (there are several), such as Acts 15:5, the word sect is used. We see another example of G139 in 1 Corinthians 11:19, where the word heresy is used rather than sect. Looking further, the Strong’s number and the Greek name for sect or heresy is haíresis! So what about the word cult?


Using the word cult can be ambiguous. It is not used often in Scripture, and that depends on translation. The ESV uses the word cult.

(English Standard Version-ESV)


The KJV uses the word whore as do so many other Bible versions.



(King James Version-KJV)


Cult in both versions uses similar terms such as whore, prostitute, and sodomite to express those who practice acts of sexually immoral character. Remember the research observation that Spiritual Abuse is often associated with cultic groups. Webster’s Dictionary defines a cult as a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (false, fake, counterfeit). Yet another definition is that they use Bible passages about sexuality to justify rape and sexual assault.


So how does this apply to Spiritual Abuse? We often hear of sexual exploits of both males and females in groups and organizations identified as Spiritual Abusers. However, to keep matters in order, this blog highlights these terms to rule in the truth that Spiritual Abusive groups and organizations fall into these categories.


Return next month as “Spiritual Abuse” moves forward from the preliminaries as it addresses issues and answers questions such as:


Next Issue:

  • Spiritual Abuse During Biblical Times
  • Is There a Correlation Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism?
  • Does Spiritual Abuse Serve a Purpose?
  • What Draws a Person to These Camps and Organizations?
  • Signs You Have Become Victimized.
  • How To Break Free.
  • Recovering From Emotional, Spiritual and Financial Bondages of Spiritual Abuse.


If this blog has been a blessing to you, please leave your comment below.

What do you think? Comment below!


  1. Mary on August 16, 2023 at 11:47 pm

    Thank you so much for your wisdom and knowledge on this subject. This subject is too close to home. A few years ago, spiritual abuse reared its ugly head in my life when I was most vulnerable. Before I knew it, I was snared by its harmful roots. Thanks to Yah, I am free from that oppression. May Yah bless you precious Sister Diane. Thank you for all the time and effort you share with Yah’s children.

    • Sister Diane on August 19, 2023 at 2:01 am

      Sister Mary, thank you for your kind words. As you so rightly stated many women find themselves caught up and eventually snared in a spiritually abusive marriage, and sometimes the marriage is with the church. Please continue to check back as I, with the help of the Ruach haQodesh plan to write more on this subject.
      Sister Diane

  2. Shantel on August 17, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    I am so happy and blessed by Yahuah to have gotten this breakdown of Spiritual Abuse for I have experienced some form of it without knowing and even know people who have experienced it and who are still experiencing it. It is crazy to see some of the things some of these so call churches/sects/cults are doing to people which is causing them to be led astray.

    • Sister Diane on August 19, 2023 at 1:57 am

      Sister Shantel, thank you so much for your reply. I am pleased that Heavenly Father used me as His vessel to share this ugly truth. This is only the first part dear sister as I am led to shed the light. As you said some people (for men and women are victims) have no idea they are in such a dark place. Your words give me encouragement to continue. Please pray for me that Yah continues to use me in this manner.
      Sister Diane

  3. Naomi Knight on September 24, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Very timely blog. I too, have been spiritually abused. In fact, it was when I had my exit meeting leaving the church. Because my husband is a council member of the church, the meeting was with my husband and the pastor.
    I look to Yahuah for healing and I thank you for bringing this subject to the light.

    • Sister Diane on October 13, 2023 at 11:17 pm

      Indeed Sister Naomi and I plan to bring to light additional aspects concerning this dreadful evil of mind control.

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