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  • Religious Trauma

    What is Religious Trauma?

    Religious abuse, also known as spiritual abuse, is a type of psychological and emotional mistreatment that may result in religious trauma. Cloaked in the veil of dogmatic theology, this type of abuse often involves humiliation, coercion, control, and exploitation. For some, religious abuse and its resultant trauma call to mind bizarre cults led by eccentric, sometimes sinister individuals that we hear about on the nightly news or see in horror films. While these cults may certainly lead to religious abuse, respected spiritual advisors of all faiths are sometimes the perpetrators. Many times, these “advisors” are members of one’s community, family, and home environment, where scripture and religious teachings are used as a means to shame, manipulate and control rather than as tools of ethical and spiritual development.

    For some who are brought up in communities and/or households of strict religious faith and who face, for example, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, abortion, divorce, same-sex attraction, or pressure to tithe despite financial hardship, feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and estrangement may arise due to rejection from one’s community and/or family. While disparate, scenarios such as these are often unavoidable, validated, and simply a part of life. Religious trauma may also result from a misogynistic stance and misuse of religious doctrine to control a woman/wife into submission, citing it as “the will of God.” Abuse plays no part in God’s will.

    Symptoms of Religious Trauma

    Signs of religious trauma are similar to other types of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (c-PTSD), such as:



    – Poor decision-making skills

    Lack of self-confidence or self-esteem

    Feelings of guilt or shame

    – Difficulty forming healthy adult relationships

    – Self-hatred

    – Hypervigilance.

    These are merely symptoms of a nefarious underlying cause that can be effectively overcome with appropriate treatment once recognized and addressed.

    Where to Turn?

    If you feel you have experienced religious/spiritual abuse and are suffering from its resultant symptoms in its many forms, know that there is hope.

    It is important to find a skilled therapist who offers an accepting, nonjudgmental, safe space to express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences and is equipped to objectively identify the false beliefs instilled in you by others and effectively guide you through the trauma and down the path of rediscovering your authentic self. With the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and other proven treatment modalities, you can work together to regain your self-acceptance and self-worth.

    Religion, at its core, is meant to be a source of comfort and kind, loving guidance. If its misinterpretation and misuse have left you feeling worthless, scared, and alone, know that there is a way out of despair and into the light.

    Are You Suffering From Religious Trauma?

    If you or any loved ones feel like you are experiencing religious trauma please contact us we would be happy to help.

    Ready To Start Therapy For Religious Trauma in Orlando, Florida?

    The Mindful Practice located in Winter Park, FL is here to help you address and manage your trauma symptoms. Our skilled therapists are here for you and offer both in-person and online therapy to help you confront your trauma. Start living a meaningful life by following these steps:

    1. Contact us to schedule an appointment
    2. Be paired with one of our caring therapists
    3. Start living a meaningful life free of trauma symptoms

    Other Services At The Mindful Practice in Winter Park, FL

    We offer many different types of mental health services at our Winter Park, FL-based counseling practice, and through online therapy in Florida. For individuals, we offer depression treatment, anxiety treatment, and trauma therapy. As well as post-bariatric surgery therapy, grief counseling, and life transitions therapy. Additionally, our caring therapists offer EMDR therapy and mindfulness-based therapy. We look forward to hearing from you.

    by Erin Pallard, RCSWI