Category Archives: Mental Health

Decisions

Here lately I have been having some issues with things I never wanted to feel……. If you don’t mind I would like to share that with you today.

 

I have shared my story with so many people. Even the part that I have so much hate for him. The things he put me through are horrible and I would never want someone to feel those things. I have found out deep dark family secrets that turn my stomach. I have learned many things in the two and half years since leaving him. So here goes.

I shared a photo that compared me, him and our son. Then, I shared a similar picture that compared us with our daughter. Both of them were flipped as to what I used to think in my head about our children. The one of our son compared to us said that he looked more like me, I think he looks just like his father. The one of our daughter said she favored him, I think she looks like me. Then I did it again with different pictures of us and it flipped saying our son looks like him and our daughter looks like me. Just as I thought. But it also goes to show you that in different circumstances each child can favor one parent over the other.

But, on to the reason for this today. These pictures sparked a conversation between me and two friends. Both of whom I love dearly. Somehow it lead to what I was going to tell my children of their father. To give a little background to this, their father in in prison until at least June of 2023, with 10 years of strict probation to follow, and has to register every 30 days because he is now a sex offender. Meaning, my children will be at least 12 and 14 when he could be released from prison, but 22 and 24 when he can step foot out of the sate he is incarcerated in. While I am comfortable with that, I am not 100% sure what I should disclose to them.

The man that I loved and married is long gone. To me that man is dead. While he is still alive, the man I knew is dead. The light in his eyes has been extinguished. He became a cruel, heartless person. I can’t even bring myself to completely admit to myself that he is who he has become. The debate that was sparked was a simple one. Do I tell my children what their father has done or do I tell them he is dead? I cannot tell him he is dead because, when they are old enough to investigate they will know. However, with the things he has done, I don’t want to tell them that. Having taken a class in juvenile delinquency in which we learned of a few different situations where this would be completely bad. Self-fulfilling prophecy and labeling. I do NOT want my son thinking that because his father is who is and has done the things he’s done, that he will be the same type of person. I do not want my daughter thinking that every man is that way. It’s a rough decision.

While I respect and love these friends for bringing this topic up, it still simple goes down to what is in the best interest of your child at the time. For now, only having been asked once by my 4 year old son, I have told them that he is in jail, which I explained to him, was a place big people go when they’ve been really bad. He seemed okay with that explanation. So for now the decision stands at telling them he is in jail and can’t see them because he was really bad. If for some reason something bad happens to him or he gets sick and passes, then I can tell them he passed away. I am not sure, for now, if I will ever disclose to them what he has done to me or to others.

Not My Shame

            I have been wanting to open up for a long time. I was so afraid to hurt certain people. But I am now to the point in my life where I cannot feel bad for his mistakes. I have so much hatred for this person that I never, ever wanted to hate. I am pretty certain that the day he dies I will NOT cry, as a matter of fact, I may clap and do a little dance. This is no longer my shame to hold on to.

          So for those of you that I haven’t opened up to, please take a moment to read this. In such a short time I have found myself in a place I never thought I would be. I was in a homeless shelter at the beginning of 2012. After a brief split with my now ex-husband, we made the decision to make one last attempt at our marriage. Probably, looking back, not the best decision I ever made. However, it did cause me to gain the life of my beautiful daughter. You see I had been told my chances of conceiving for a second time was .0001% and after feeling extremely blessed with my son, I was ok with that. This second miracle was the reason I now see that I tried the one last time.

          So on to the reason I am writing this. After leaving him for a second time, I knew that this time had to be the last. He was disliked by most of my family for the things he had put me through. When we made the decision to get back together, they were not happy. They were even angrier when I informed them I was pregnant again. After all of the things he had already put me through, I had forgiven him and allowed him back into my life. They were worried for me and with good reason.

          We did really well for the first few months. He increasingly became more hostile towards me and even towards our nearly two year old son. And then it is like the light in his eyes lowly faded. You see, he was one of those guys that had the most beautiful life-filled eyes. But as time went on, it faded. I still to this day do not know where everything went wrong. Now looking at his pictures (recent not old) that light is gone completely. As a matter of fact they are almost dead.

          What I do know, is that on September 24, 2012 my life was forever changed. This was the day after I had celebrated the coming of my beautiful daughter. I am saddened by the events that took place on that day. My feelings towards almost everything changed that day. This was the day that the man who was supposed to love and protect me, slammed my head into a wall during an argument and physically forced me to have sex. That is correct, my husband, raped me. I know now after a ton of soul searching and research, that what he had done to me was NOT okay by any means. Just because I was legally married to him, he was not allowed to rape me. A marriage license is not a license to be raped.

          After two and a half years of freeing myself from this person, my life slowly becomes more of what it should be. Peace and quiet. I feel more alive now than I think I ever have. I have a passion inside me to do something to help others like myself and many of my friends. I cannot by any mean find it in my heart to forgive him. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s better for me if I do. The anger and pain drive me to be who I am.

          I do however fell sorry for 4 very precious people in this entire situation. They are his 4 beautiful children (2 of which are mine biologically). These children now have to live with the stigma that their father is an abuser who rapes women. But even still, this is his shame to carry not mine, and not his children. His family shouldn’t carry that burden of shame either. As angry as I am at some of them for having nothing to do with my children, they need not carry that burden either. It is his shame, and his shame alone. I dread the day I have to explain to my children why he isn’t around. But it’s ok. They know their mommy loves them to the end of time.

          Then I look back and realize why some people treated him the way they did. They knew who he was and what he was. They knew I’d never in a million years believe he was capable of the things he has done. I know deep in their hearts they wanted to tell me, but knew I’d never believe it. I remember people telling me they saw the toxic relationship and were honestly scared for my safety. I of course didn’t want to hear it.

          Basically to get to the point, when you have survived abuse in any way, you do NOT have to forgive the person to move forward. I do strongly believe you have to figure out how to let go of the shame. Shame is a burden and we have held their burdens long enough. So to end this I will speak this and believe it even more THIS IS NOT MY SHAME, IT IS HIS. I AM DONE CARRYING THE SHAME, IT IS YOURS NOW AND FOREVER!!!!!!!

Fear is Never Ending

Fear is never-ending………

So I am sitting quietly at a computer at school and my phone begins to ring. I look down thinking it’s about my daughter who had been a little ill yesterday, well it was my lawyer. A sense of fear rushed over me. Of course a thousand thoughts went through my head. Yes he’s in prison, yes he’s gone far away, yes I am free, yes I am healing, but damn, my lawyer doesn’t just call for no reason…….. Was he trying to force me to bring the children to a prison in another state to receive visitation. Now mind you this a year if not longer since I have spoken to my lawyer.
As I pick up, with a no doubt shaking voice, I say “Hello” She giggles a little and says “Freaking out a little were you?” I said well “Yes I am” She then proceeded to inform me as to the reason for her call. I have been asked to join an information board that will help the legal aid from all over my state to deal with and handle victims of domestic violence. They get a lot of requests for help from domestic violence victims.
Please do not get me wrong this is a blessing and an honor to do this. I am overjoyed and excited that her immediate thought was me. I am studying Criminal Justice so it is a great opportunity for me as well. But my heart sank when I saw her number. I of course said yes.
So to maybe make it a little clearer on why that phone call scared me so much. For a year and a half this woman would only call me if she was returning my call because of him violating the restraining order I had placed on him. I had really only had dealings with her when it was urgent or in regards to my divorce to follow the restraining order. So the immediate thought was this had to do with him
I have finally gotten to the point where, even knowing that he is behind bars, which I could not completely freak out just walking out of my door. A feeling that I worked hard to get to. So when that phone began going off, I was simply afraid. The fear never seems to completely go away. Just eases up a little.

“At least you’re productive when manic”

This is the response I most often receive once people find out that I cook and clean and write when manic. What I hear when you say this to me is, “Your mania isn’t serious.” “Your mania isn’t dangerous.” “Your mania is useful.” And, perhaps most hurtful of all, “Stop complaining, it could be worse.” Here’s the thing, though: My mania *is* dangerous. It puts my health and safety at risk, because I don’t make wise decisions. I will cross the street with little regard for traffic. I become severely sleep deprived. And thinking that my mania is useful sets me up for problems, because it makes me less likely to stay on my meds when I have them.

As for the claim that I’m productive, I’m not really. I’m too busy doing all the things, because all the things must be done, to focus on doing any one task well and completely. My thoughts are racing, so my body is racing, and I’m jumping from task to task, rather than seeing one project through to the end before starting the next one. Things do eventually get finished, but not to the same standard as when I’m not manic. My anxiety kicks into overdrive when I’m manic, which makes it even harder to focus on anything. And I end up needing those around me to help look out for me and take care of me, because otherwise it becomes a never ending cycle until I crash into depression. The anxiety feeds the mania, which feeds the anxiety, and around and around the mulberry bush until pop goes the depression.

The reason I cook and clean and write when I’m manic is because I started experiencing mania as a teenager, and I had severely limited options on how to deal with it. My options now are still fairly limited, though not as much as they were back then. I have no money, and no transportation, so shopping is out of the question. (Though I am more than capable of serious spending sprees when I do have money and transportation.) My mania is usually worst at night, but growing up I knew there would be consequences for waking the rest of my family, so I could not go for a walk, or put on music and dance. About the only things available to me were cooking, cleaning, and writing. So, that’s what I learned to do in order to deal with my manic spells.

If you love me; if you care about me; if you in any way consider me a friend; don’t tell me my mania is useful. That does not help me, and in fact can make things worse. It makes me want to be friends with my mania, and that just isn’t possible. I am well aware that things could be worse, regardless of what situation I’m discussing. I don’t need to be reminded of that. What I need is to be reminded that I’m not in this alone, and that there are people in my life who are willing to step in and tell me to “Stop, take a breath, and see. Actually *see* what you’re looking at.” And then help me address the source my mania (if applicable). Sometimes (too many times) there is no source. In those moments, I need to still hear that I’m not alone, that I am ok, and that I can and will get through this moment. Remind me that my mania is temporary. Remind me that I have survived it before. Remind me that I still need sleep. And, above all, don’t let me cross the street by myself, lol!

Music that Uplifts me.

Today I am going to share a list of song and the artist who sing them. These songs are ones I listen to when I need some strength……

If you click on each title and artist it will go directly to the youtube video for each song 🙂

Warrior by Demi Lavoto

Sky Scraper by Demi Lavoto

You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me by Cher

A Woman’s Worth by Alicia Keys

Weathered by Creed

Fuckin Perfect by P!nk

Human by Christina Perri

Hall of Fame by The Script

Titanium by David Guetta

Win by Brian McKnight

You are Loved by Josh Groban

Fighter by Christina Aguilera

Brave by Sara Bareilles

People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson

One Step at a Time by Jordin Sparks

It’s Time by Imagine Dragons

Survival by Muse

You’ll Be Okay by A Great Big World

For My Sake by Shinedown

Courage by Orianthi ft Lacey Sturm

Monster You Made by Pop Evil

You Raise Me Up by Celtic Woman

Never Too Late by Three Days Grace

Awake and Alive by Skillet

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys

Why I’m Here by Oleander

Through the Rain by Mariah Carey

We have also put this list into a Spotify Playlist for your enjoyment.

Our Spotify List

Spotify is a free on-line radio. You can download it to your computer or your phone, or listen to this particular playlist without downloading anything.

What an abuse survivor wants from a new love.

What an abuse survivor wants from a new love.

I would have to say the first thing I want from a new love is understanding. Understanding that I am scared. The last man that I gave my heart to hurt me. He was supposed to be the one that protected me, instead he is the one who hurt me. He took my love for granted. Understanding that when I tell you what I went through it’s not because I want you to feel sorry for me, I tell you because I’m still healing and will be for a very long time and I want you to help me heal. Understand that even though deep down I know you’re not that person I still somewhat need you to prove it. Understanding that when you go to put your arm around me and I flinch, it’s not because I am scared of you, it is because his hands weren’t that sweet. Understand that when you go to kiss me or touch me sexually and I back away, it isn’t because I don’t want you to, it’s because I wasn’t given a choice with him.

The second would be trust. Simply because I wasn’t trusted, with absolutely no reason for mistrust. Trust me that when I say I am going to the grocery store, that’s where I am going. Trust me to work and be faithful to you and only you. Trust me not to check everything I do or say I am doing. Simply trust.

The third thing would be words. Use your words wisely. If you think I am beautiful, tell me. That person that did all of the damage wasn’t so kind with words. Think about how you say something and the words used to say them. There is a lot of venom in words and some just don’t see the damage they can cause.

The fourth would be compassion. If we are still feeling pressure from the abuser, being stalked, court dates and so on, let us know you are there. If it is possible go with us to these things. Never make us feel that the fear is silly or unwarranted. There is a reason we are scared. If we ask you to hold us, it is a feeling of safety that is needed. Compassion that sometimes we are just scared, and all it takes is you letting us know you are there and that you will do all you can to ensure our safety.

Another would be sympathy. Some if not most of us do not seek counseling in the aftermath, sometimes because we fear our abuser will be following us. Most of the time, those of us who suffered extreme abuse or sexual assault from our abuser, suffer from PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This disorder is complicated and there is no sure way to beat it. If we refuse counseling there is a reason.

And last but not least, RESPECT. If I say no respect me and listen. If I give you my opinion on a subject, respect it even and more so if you disagree. If I am trusting you enough to give you my opinion, respect it please. If I am crying, angry or even very happy, I am sharing my feelings and emotions with you, RESPECT them.

How to Support Someone who Self-Harms

Today, I want to take a look at a few things that you can do to help support someone who self-harms. Obviously, you don’t want to encourage that behavior. But what can you do to help them? What can you say that won’t make things worse? Where do you even begin? All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

First of all, acknowledge how hard it is to reach out. What they are telling you is that they know their old methods for dealing with hurt, anger, sadness, fear, &/or anxiety are not working, but they don’t know what else to do. This is as big of a deal as an alcoholic saying they don’t want to take that next drink. It is very hard, very scary, to reach past all the fear, doubt, self-loathing, and other negative emotions, and let someone else in. Don’t take that lightly.

Do NOT judge them. They are coping in one of the only ways they know how right now. They are quite likely already judging themselves. They don’t need to hear from you about how bad of a habit this is, or how much damage they are doing to themselves. What they need right now is to know that they are loved and cared for. So tell them. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them all the things that make them amazing, unique, and wonderful. And tell them often. Because hearing it once is nice, but it doesn’t always stick, especially when a person is in so much pain they are intentionally hurting themselves.

Ok, so you’ve acknowledged their bravery in reaching out, told them you love them, and you’re not judging. But now what? Well, now you can help them come up with some alternatives. The Sirius Project has an amazing list of other options. Help walk your friend through them. Help brainstorm some other possibilities. Keep in mind, not every alternative is going to help every person every time. So encourage them to keep trying until they find one that helps them this time.

Talk to them. Ask them if it has helped them, long term, in the past. If they are honest, they will admit it hasn’t, and has often times made things worse. Ask if it will solve any of the problems they are currently facing. Ask what got them to this point, where they are wanting to self-harm. If you can, help come up with solutions that will actually solve their problems, rather than make things worse.

Don’t offer ultimatums like “If you do it again, I’m done,” or “If you don’t stop, I’ll have you committed to the hospital” (if that’s an option where you are). Those kinds of statements will only encourage them to stop trying to reach out, and start hiding it better. It will add to their (already immense) feelings of shame and guilt.

If they engage in self-harm in spite of your attempts to help stop them, don’t walk away from them. They still need you. This is a very hard addiction to break. Help them come up with a plan for next time. Be as available to them as you can be. But above all, never stop loving them just because of their addiction. One of the biggest fears among those who self-harm is that those who love us will walk away once they realize how hard this addiction is to beat. We need reassurance that, regardless of how many times we may slip, you will still be there, and still care.

This does not mean they have free license to dominate your time and energy, however. You do have a right to tell someone that you still love them, but are no longer able to be their only source of help and support. If that time comes, try to help them find other support, whether it be therapy, a chat group, or another means of help.

As always, if you need further help or support, or need/want to chat with someone who cares, please feel free to get in touch with me either through here, through Facebook at Hit Me No More, or by email HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda

What is Self-Harm?

In the last entry, reference was made to self-harm, also known as self-injury. I realize that this is a term that many people may not be familiar with, so I thought it would be prudent to take a look at what self-harm is, and why someone would resort to it. This is something I have personally struggled with for many years now. I started cutting when I was 16, and started trying to stop when I was 18. I am now 31, and just under a month away from hitting one year cut free. Please proceed with caution, as this topic may be triggering, particularly if you have struggled with self-harm. If you find yourself being triggered, please stop reading and do something kind for yourself instead. All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

Wikipedia defines self-harm as  follows: “Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions.” Self-harm (SH) and self-injury (SI) are synonymous, and as such are often used interchangeably. So, that answers what self-harm is. But what does it look like?

Self-harm can look like any number of things. For me, it most often is a blade used to cut myself. For others, it is hitting themselves hard enough to cause bruises, and sometimes even broken bones. Some people burn themselves. Some scratch their skin. And so on and so forth. Basically, if you can cause harm to yourself by doing something, it can be used as a form of self-injury. Eating disorders and substance abuse typically are not classified as SH, however, because the resulting tissue damage is usually an unintentional side effect.

Ok, but why would someone do that to themselves? What could they possibly hope to achieve by hurting their body?

The answer to those questions are complicated, and yet very simple. It causes a release of chemicals in the brain that gets you high. You then get addicted to that rush, and continue to seek it out. SH is considered a negative coping strategy, in that most people who do it are attempting to cope with something too big for their usual coping skills. This is why it’s important to learn healthy, non-harmful coping skills when you’re trying to stop hurting yourself. It is often used to deal with abuse. The pain in the body drowns out the pain in the mind, and often leads to a numbness where nothing is felt. That nothingness is, to someone who self-injures, preferable to the pain they feel before they injure.

It is important to note that while someone who self-injures is NOT making a suicide attempt, it CAN lead to life threatening injuries or infections. That makes it important to properly care for wounds, including sometimes having to go to the hospital. However, since SH is so widely misunderstood, many people are hesitant to seek medical treatment for their injuries.

In tomorrow’s entry, I will share some tips on how to help support someone who self-injures, including what you can do to help them stop. In the meantime, if you self-harm, know you are not alone. Whatever it is that led you to this point can be dealt with in healthy ways. There is a link to self-harm alternatives on the Resources page on this site. If you want or need to talk with someone who understands, please feel free to get in touch with me here, through my Facebook page Hit Me No More, or by email at HitMeNoMore@gmail.com – Amanda

Healing

This entry comes courtesy of Blair Robertson. We talked at great length after she sent this to me, and I can assure you, even though it may appear at times that she is making light of some things, she is not. – Amanda

——————————————————————————-

As I was bathing today, a Zen koan came into my head. (A koan is a story in the Zen tradition that is something like an Aesop’s fable. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.) It goes like this: A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her. The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and inquired “Is something the matter, you seem very upset?”

The junior monk replied, “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The senior monk replied, “I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still.”

It got me thinking about the survivors of rape and sexual abuse I know, and know through Facebook. I find myself distressed by the self-destructive behaviors I find to be so common. I’m the mother of a survivor, and the pain I feel tells me that I can’t begin to imagine the pain felt by actual survivors. But I get very disturbed, confused, devastated, by the harmful behaviors I see and hear exhibited by survivors–soon afterwards, and years afterwards. Some, but not all, include cutting, drugs, suicide attempts, anorexia, bulimia, gaining massive amounts of weight. Nightmares, I understand. The rest, I acknowledge. I think this may be the most painful, terrifying, identity-stealing experience a woman, girl, boy or man can go through, destroying sense of self and self-esteem, leaving feelings of terror, shame, and guilt for survivors to deal with for long times to come. Victims are often blamed, not believed by families, friends, the legal system. Friends turn away. Nobody, NOBODY understands. The reality of what has happened can’t be escaped, even in sleep, because of the nightmares, and the nightmares aren’t relieved upon waking.

How is it possible to get through to the other side? What is the new normal, and when will it ever feel the least bit like normal? Again, as the mother of a survivor, I don’t know those answers yet. I do, however, want to share some of the teaching that has gotten me through a lot of things, and will likely be what gets me through this. I had the supreme honor, several years ago, of happening upon a therapist in the wake of my separation and the downfall of my marriage. Bob, it seems, was a Zen master. Not Zen Buddhism, but Zen. Bob believed in nothing, no religion, no God, and he was the most gloriously happy man I have ever met in my life. He felt that whatever spark of the divine there was was within us. And he tapped into his, every minute of every day. I would take my problems to him, he would listen for a while, then he’d break out his huge smile, throw up his hands, and exclaim, “WHO CARES”? “All of that is in the past. And you can’t drive anywhere new if you spend all of your time looking in the rear-view mirror!” He would encourage me to sit in the present moment. And as for my problems, he would ask, “Have you done everything you can, up to this moment? Is there anything else you can do? Then, in this moment, let it go.” Believe me, that didn’t come easily for me, a born worrier and fretter, and it hadn’t come particularly easy to him. He had spent years in meditation with the masters before him, practicing being here, in the present moment. But as we talked, the problems I came in with would melt away, and I’d leave feeling better, although I’d have been hard pressed to tell anybody what we actually did talk about. It often felt like spiraling into the light.

Unfortunately, I lost Bob. He fell to his kitchen floor one morning with a stroke, and never awakened. And there will never be another therapist who can replace him for me. But when I need him, I can see him in my mind’s eye, sitting in lotus position in his big chair, looking something like a hobbit, throwing his hands up, crying, “WHO CARES?”

Okay, okay, keep reading. I’m NOT saying I don’t care what happened to you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care. I started this with the overwhelming horror of sexual abuse, and the same goes for domestic abuse. I am saying, that it’s done (hopefully); it’s in the past. If it’s not, get help and GET OUT. But if it’s over, you are already on the other side of the river. Don’t keep carrying the weight. Easier said than done, I know, but cutting, suicide attempts, eating disorders, etc., how is that punishing your rapist/abuser? Who is continuing to suffer? Certainly not that monster. How are you benefiting from continuing to hurt yourself? I would encourage us all, in whatever way possible, to be kind to ourselves. Find somebody else who’s been there, who really does understand. You’ve all done that, in some way, by being here and reading these blog entries. Find a therapist who knows how to deal with these issues, if you can. Bob meditated, and tried to talk me into it. So far, I have not accomplished that. My mind is just too damn busy all the time to just sit in the present. But we could all give it five minutes a day, just to sit and watch where our thoughts go. They say it gets easier. Reach out, in the hard times. Even on Facebook, there are always people up. The folks in Australia and New Zealand are up and about when it’s the middle of the night here in the States. It’s hard as hell to ask for help; I know. But being alone is probably not the best thing for the bad times. If you’re able, find a support group, or volunteer at a rape advocacy center, or a domestic violence shelter. You have a lot to give.

Depression is a hard companion. If you can take antidepressants, they will help. I strike bargains with my depression. I tell it it can have, say, 4 or 5 hours, and I’ll just curl up and cry or be sad. But then, it’s my turn. Get up and MOVE. Even a few steps, a couple of dance moves, gets the seratonin going in your brain, and fights the darkness. Sit out in the sun for 15 minutes. Take a bubble bath. Go for some of your comfort food, or have a glass of wine. Light a candle. You deserve those things, not to punish yourself more. You deserve to reach for what life can bring to you that is good. You will never forget, but scars feel better than picked-at scabs.

——————————————————————————-

If you need help locating your local resources (either to escape abuse, or to cope with what has happened in the past), please contact me either here, on Facebook at Hit Me No More, or by email at hitmenomore@gmail.com – Amanda

What is Spiritual Abuse?

Continuing the series on defining the different forms of abuse, I want to look at spiritual abuse next. If you have been raped, sexually assaulted, abused, or otherwise traumatized, please proceed with caution. If you find yourself unable to handle reading this, please stop and do something kind for yourself instead. Your safety is of utmost importance to me, and if that means you cannot read this article, I understand. All links are set to open in a new window/tab.

According to Wikipedia, “Spiritual abuse is a serious form of abuse which occurs when a person in a cult-religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of a deity (god) or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or cult-religious rank in taking advantage of the victim’s spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority. Spiritual abuse refers to the use of spiritual knowledge to deprive, torture, degrade, isolate, control, or (in rare and extreme cases) even kill others. It is used by evil-minded spiritualists, sometimes, including cult-religious leaders, to gain advantage, dominate, or exercise control over others. Being an “action of man,” in worst case scenarios, spiritual abuse can otherwise be considered a form of “spiritual terrorism.””

According to the same article, spiritual abuse may include any of the following:

  • Psychological and emotional abuse with the objective of unnatural domination and control of the victim for self-aggrandizing purposes by the perpetrator;
  • Physical abuse that includes physical injury, deprivation of sustenance;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Any act by deeds or words that demean, humiliate or shame the natural worth and dignity of a person as a human being;
  • Submission to spiritual authority without any right to disagree; intimidation;
  • Unreasonable control of a person’s basic right (personal autonomy) to make their own decisions (freewill, volition) on spiritual or natural matters;
  • False accusation and repeated criticism by negatively labeling a person as disobedient, rebellious, lacking faith, demonized, apostate, enemy of the church or a deity (a god);
  • Actions aimed at prevention from or interference with a person’s practice or system faith or spirituality;
  • Isolationism, separation, disenfranchisement, or estrangement from family and friends outside the group due to cult-religious or spiritual affiliation and indigenous beliefs;
  • Exclusivity and elitism: dismissal of outsiders’ criticism on the purported basis that the assessment, opinions, and criticism of the critic is invalid because he/she does not understand or rejects the unorthodox nuances of the belief system of the group or group guru; it is not uncommon for outside critics to be accused of being or being influenced by a demon;
  • Esotericism: withholding information and giving of information only to a selected few; hidden agendas and requirements revealed to members only as they successfully advance through various stages of “spiritual enlightenment,” which in reality is unorthodox, unproven, indigenous doctrines, beliefs, and/or practices;
  • Conformity to an unorthodox, unproven, or unnatural, and often spiritually or even naturally dangerous unconventional cult-religious view or worldview and practice;
  • Practice of spiritualism, mysticism, and/or unproven or unorthodox doctrines and theology;
  • Hostility and disenfranchisement that includes shunning, relational aggression, parental alienation or persecution;
  • Apotheosis or de facto deification of the leadership: exaltation of the primary leader(s) to a God-like status in and over the group;
  • Financial exploitation and enslavement of adherents with inordinate and burdensome required financial support (“donations”) to the financial needs of the group, which often includes a self-aggrandizing personal financial lifestyle of the leadership that far exceeds the median lifestyle of the group adherents.

I am fortunate in that I do not have any personal experience with this subject. However, in my journey of healing from the abuse I have been through, I have encountered people who have been abused in this manner. It is very real, and very traumatic. And while this does not directly relate to domestic violence, I do feel it is important to acknowledge and define this form of abuse. Just about every person I have encountered who has been spiritually abused has also been abused in other ways.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call your local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you are not in immediate danger, but need someone to talk with or help finding your local resources, please contact me either on my Facebook page Hit Me No More or at my e-mail HitMeNoMore@gmail.com