Blog Post by Sister Diane Foster

Spiritual Abuse (2)

The last several issues of P.U.R.P.O.S.E focused on Spiritual Abuse. It has been a journey of discovery. I add emotional, mental, and financial abuse, for they often co-mingle. The effects of one frequently coincide with the impact of the other. 

 

A friend and fellow constituent asked me recently if I knew anything about spiritual abuse and if I would be interested in writing something about it. At the time, I knew very little about it. However, the offer seemed intriguing, so I took on the project. After watching several videos and reading several research articles, I understood why I was asked the question. Some videos seemed reasonable to me. They offered people places to live, land to produce crops, and protection from those who they say wished them no good. They observed Sabbaths and the Feasts times as given in Torah. All seemed well. I figured I was asked the question for a reason, so I began to dig deeper. 

 

Even with gathering vital information, I knew I would gain more insight from talking with those who escaped the ills. The best way for me to do this was to survey those willing to do so. I want to take the next few sentences to thank all the participants who took the time to complete the survey. I know for some; it was difficult in that it stirred up bad memories, but even so, you were willing to do it for the sake of sharing helpful information, or perhaps information that may help a loved one or someone whom you do not know, to escape the experience. Before moving forward, the definition and identity of spiritual abuse are in order.

 

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 severe trauma and significantly impact mental health. These definitions are relevant across all denominations.

 

What the Bible Says About Spiritual Abuse 

The Bible gives us clear indications of spiritual abuse. One example came from the mouth of Yahusha when He gave the seven woes to the Scribes and Pharisees.

Then Yahusha said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:1-4) (NIV).

 

What Draws a Person to These Camps and Organizations?

How do the tender hearts of Yah’s children become entrapped? What draws them? Some drawn into these communities are searching for a sense of identity. Some want to feel accepted or loved. Some lack validation. It does not take much for them to place themselves under the wings of authoritative types who legitimize them as a person with value. These wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) give them a false sense of security as they stroke their egos and offer them a place of order and structure. Again, Matthew 23:13 reads: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Some have no biblical training, and the wolves exploit their ignorance. For example, Matthew 16:24 reads: If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Exploiters use these types of verses to convince those zealous for righteousness. 

 

How Do The Vulnerable Become Entrapped?

All human beings are subject to manipulation and have discovered that they were being or have been manipulated by another at some point. Even a child can manipulate a parent once they understand their behavior and thinking patterns. Manipulation is more complex than it may first seem and, when directed skillfully, gives the manipulator much power and control. Satan told Eve, “Surely you shall not die.” And, though she had a personal walk with Yahuah, Eve believed Satan! Satan is the master manipulator! He has not stopped doing what He did in the garden on that fatal day. Those who spiritually abuse others, especially on a large scale, are master manipulators.

 

Breaking Free and Healing

There is no information better than firsthand information. The information received from our respondents is as follows. As you read the results, see if you can relate. Perhaps you were a victim of spiritual abuse and were not aware. What you are about to read will answer questions for those who suffer from spiritual abuse and brokenness. Or, perhaps you see someone whose life parallels what you are about to read. 

 

SURVEY RESULTS

Questions answered in this survey represent the definitions and attributes of spiritual abuse. Respondent elaborations provided a grass-root understanding of the nature and complexity of spiritual abuse. This report’s most important questions and answers relate to a broad spectrum of similarities. These are attraction to the community, acceptable behavior, leadership, types of abuse, and reason for leaving, ending with testimonies of healing journeys. These similarities show the broader yet common and narrower nature of those who seek this form of religion and those who exploit them. Another important goal is to move beyond what is known to how to heal. This series will speak to the healing journey. One last interesting point is that the reporting of spiritual abuse in mainstream or nondenominational churches is just as prevalent in cultic groups and faith communities. 

 

Basic Information

Some respondents saw the call that went out from the newsletter, some were from word of mouth, and some were those who sought help from CSCM. Of these, a few were unaware their concern was related to spiritual abuse or was the result of spiritual abuse. Twenty requests went out, and 17 responded. For ease of reporting, the 17 respondents represent 100% of the population. For example, rather than saying eight responded, it will read 47% (rounded to the nearest whole number).

 

These numbers represented a grass-root population that provided a large yield consensus to other research data. In other words, the results of this survey took data from real-time individuals to validate further the facts on spiritual abuse. Whether Hebrew Camps or communities of faith, churches, or synagogues, spiritual abuse permeates all categories of religious organizations. Respondents’ answers give real-time reporting of the research findings mentioned in this series. Of 3 people who did not complete the survey, two said spiritual abuse did not relate to them, while one was not aware of anyone being involved in it. The respondents represented three males and 14 females. Five were single, seven married, four divorced, and one no response.

 

 

 

 

TESTIMONIES

 

What Attracted You to the Community?

  • I wanted to join a Torah-based community.  was a young convert, just accepting MessiYah, and I believed the teachings of the Pastor at the time due to lack of knowledge and teaching for myself.
  • Newborn believer seeking congregation to fellowship and learn more about my Heavenly Father. A co-worker introduced me.
  •  They seemed to not have church drama and accountability I had experienced at other churches. Also, my mother attended here before she passed away.
  • I believed that the spirit of Yah was moving and it was for a period of time. For another community, I was seeking Qodesh fellowship because my life was in danger and needed spiritual family. For the third community, it appeared they had resources and knowledge I could gain since Yah woke me up and could potentially continue to grow and learn in that space as I continue to follow Yah in my personal journey. I learned of these different communities from my sister on the first one, a fellow classmate on the second and for the third, an online search.
  • I was at a point in my life where I was seeking more and it was fruitful, until it wasn’t. Someone recommended them to me but I later discovered deceit.
  • It was for a specific age group, and my friends would take me with them so I didn’t have to be alone. It was when I first came into my faith. What is the primary way you found out about or discovered this community?
  • I wanted to know more about God at that time to have a sense of purpose and to understand myself. My mom pushed me to going to church though she did not go. I found it because I lived nearby. I had a great relationship with them but I did not like their behavior it did not set well with me for they said nice words but their actions were the opposite.
  • I wanted to leave my grandmother’s church and branch out on my own.
  • I was in this community from the age of six years old. I did not emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and financially break free from this religious community until October of 2018 until I was 58 years old. That’s 52 years of my life being impacted more in a negative way by this religion. My grandmother and mother were Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • The leader seemed to be anointed. He answered my questions well, or so I thought. Looking back I see he was charismatic in that he did not really answer my questions the way I anticipated. I was looking a for community of believers who followed the feasts and who called on the name of Yahuah.

 

What Caused You to Want to Leave?

  • My first community was a Christian church, the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was them endorsing the Covid19 shot and after coming into the knowledge of the pagan holidays I could no longer participate in that idolatry. For the other two communities, I did not leave because Yah called me to those spaces.
  • I began to question Scripture in relation to how the community lived and functioned. I was met with hostility. My children became depressed. My husband stopped supporting me emotionally, physically, and financially.
  • When you see that someone has appointed themselves as a leader and has inserted themselves between you and Yah just leave. Ask Yah if this is right, and when he tells you no, it is not, believe Him and leave. (Break the stronghold).
  • I lost my way spiritually.
  • I became very well studied in the scriptures, and realized that I was being mislead, so I left the organization.
  • The Ruach HaKodesh began to make me feel restless, uncomfortable, and alert of certain things that were happening in the congregation. It was difficult to leave. I prayed and the Heavenly Father give me confirmation. I made an appointment with the Pastors wife told her why I was leaving. We had a great conversation and I left. I felt this was ordained by the Ruach HaKodesh., that it was Yahuah’s Holy Spirit also speaking to them.
  • Cause for Leaving 1.) I started questioning the Bible vs what they did. They didn’t like that. 2.) I started observing the Biblical Feast days and Sabbaths. I was told my Feast days, and Sabbaths wouldn’t be approved and if I would not reconsider they would find someone else. 3.) I had my strokes, they wouldn’t let me back to work when I was better. They cut back my hours then just laid me off after 3 months of ignoring me, not giving me work, and not getting back to me. It was difficult to leave. Yahuah started telling me a year prior to leave but it was my only source of income. I did stop listening to their messages. It was like being put in between a rock and a hard place.
  • The lies and placating caused me to leave.
  • I watched the older women talk badly about a little girl who would repeat wearing 2 dresses each Sabbath. I felt they could save and buy her new dresses but rather they chose to talk badly about her. She was 12 years old at that time. It was easy to leave for there was nothing there that I wanted to learn from them plus if I had stayed there I would have been just like them. Abuse from other women
  • I felt a disturbance in my spirit that something was not right. I prayed about it for awhile. I saw certain patterns that were not right with. The leadership had no accountability or a controlled way of limiting more elders to help with the growing assembly. It difficult to leave because I felt that there was no true brother’s keeper when it came down to it. It bothers me still, but am thankful the father disturbs my peace when it is time for me to move on. It shows me he is always leading me; when I sense these things. We are not to put are trust in men. Psalms 146:3-7.
  • The “shunning” policy, and the child molestation cover-up. I did have one negative experience with a Torah Bible study group that was spiritually abusive. But it was only for a few months. The pasture and his assistant were possessive and trying to sell commercial product’s to members. I think the assembly is no longer in existence.
  • When we were no longer studying the scriptures It was not difficult to leave. I sent a group message that I’d be stepping down from my leadership role and I didn’t go back to church after that, no one really questioned it or responded to my email.
  • I began to question Scripture in relation to how the community lived and functioned. I was met with hostility. My children became depressed. My husband stopped supporting me emotionally, physically, and financially. Me and the elder had harsh words. The words he used convinced me he did not have me, or my children’s best interest at hand. I think I expressed my dislike so openly that they just told me I could leave whenever I wanted. So I took my children and left. My husband stayed.

 

Four Stages of Recovery

Stage One: Acknowledge being a victim of abuse.                    11%

Stage Two: Determined to heal and inform myself                  11%

Stage Three: Love myself and no longer criticize myself         23%

Stage Four: Become a positive role model for others               52%

 

Summary of Healing Journey

  • Reading the Bible on my own. Beginning a new spiritual journey.
  • I’m still healing because I experienced spiritual abuse in all three communities and two of them I am still affiliated with and/or fellowshipping with. I think this survey is one step of that healing process and definitely Yah ordained because a lot of His sheep has been mishandled in organized assemblies/churches.
  • Getting closer to Abba Father, trusting and relying on Him more, and less on men. Studying and doing research and finding more about Yah’s truth.
  • Absolutely positive! I have more understanding now of the Scriptures learning more all the time. Reading the scriptures and studying more open my eyes to my heart. I felt like I had to be in this particular group thinking we will be safe, these are my people. But it was the total opposite. Today, it feels good to have a place where we can gather with other like-minded folks meet. HallaluYah Praise Yahuwah!
  • Lots of prayer, lots of fasting, lots of inner healing through applying the scriptures, and lots of study to make sure I am not deceived in such a manner again.
  • Getting closer to Abba Father, trusting and relying on Him more, and less on men. Studying and doing research and finding more about Yah’s truth. I learned to trust and have a personal relationship with my creator. And, not let the manipulation, control, false doctrine, mistakes of others keep me away from Yah.
  • It was hurtful, but I had to move on. I worked for them for 4 years. Gave birth at home alone and was back to work 4 days later. Lost my great grandmother while working with them and didn’t take off. I made sure everything was in order and within the week I left. I was thrown out with the bath water at my lowest point, it was pretty hurtful, to be treated like that when I showed so much loyalty to the church. I thought we were family.
  • Starting over with YHWH from scratch.
  • Sharing truth and pray for others that they come to truth and to let the Ruach lead and not try to convince people this is the true path. In a nutshell I had spiritual abuse from my father and could never actually voice my opinion in my old church. I was always told this is the way it is and this is what truth was….I never felt like I could talk to anyone from that church really cause there were so many family ties to that church that I didn’t have the strength or courage to stand up for truth. I didn’t have the information I have now to share what I know now. It would have been a very unfair debate and I didn’t want to cause a ruckus if I didn’t have anything concrete to share.
  • Knowing Yahuah’s truth and Torah and becoming a member of Assembly of Yahuah was the best decision I’ve ever made.
  • Prayer, forgiveness, moving on.-
  • With the help of Yahuah and simply not being around them(the abusers) has been healing. I was relieved to find the articles on spiritual abuse from Compassionate Soul Care Ministry’s site and newsletter. I have hopes of connecting with other sisters so that I can talk and share my experiences.

 

How to Heal from Spiritual Abuse

Some walk away, some run away, and some describe breaking free as escaping. First it is healing to know that your involvement was steeped in deception. Therefore, do not carry the burden of shame, or guilt. Realize that you are not alone. Know that there is nothing right about spiritual abuse. Return your focus to the love of Yahuah; know He loves you. Understand co-dependency and trauma. Develop critical thinking skills. Learn yourself, who you are, and most importantly, whose you are.

These statements, when understood, are tremendous antidotes for healing. With the help of the Holy Spirit, focusing on each of these with single-mindedness closes doors of bondage and opens avenues for healing.

As this series develops, Compassionate Soul Care Ministry (CSCM) have plans to initiate Roundtable discussions to discuss “All Things Spiritual Abuse.” We would love to hear from you. If you have any ideas or feedback to what we seek to accomplish please leave your comments in the Comment section or email diane@compassionatesoulcareministry.com.

To learn more about spiritual abuse, I have posted the link to the beginning of the series. Also in the description box is the link to the survey for those who may still want to participate.

 

Spiritual Abuse: https://compassionatesoulcareministry.com/spiritual-abuse/

 

If you would still like to take the survey but have questions: https://compassionatesoulcareministry.com/letter/

 

To take the survey: https://compassionatesoulcareministry.com/survey

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