Healing from abuse
Abuse comes in many forms. A person can experience abuse as a child or as an adult. Abuse is categorized in many fields as any disempowering relationship – this can be present in an environment, organization, or personal dynamic. The disempowerment can affect you emotionally, financially, mentally, physically and, our topic today, spiritually.
Spiritual Abuse is perpetrated by making someone believe they are at the mercy of or indebted to someone in order to receive love / healing from their “God” and or Deity. This would include the notion that one has no direct connection with spirit, and needs to be a certain way i.e., loving, caring, forgiving in order to be a “good” person. This includes religions with no Deity, a belief system that the whole community believes to be true. An example of this is non-dualism, which fundamentally believes there are no male / female differences and people are all “one”. This abuse disengages people from their individuality, weakening needs and boundaries. For a woman, this can lead to financial instability and sexual obligation, leaving her feeling like she can never stop giving of herself.
How spiritual abuse feels at first is that for the first time you are known and loved, wanted and desired. There is an “other world” feeling of euphoria. This is neurological stimuli and it is addicting. This is why women who are being abused will return to the abuser. In spiritual communities, this feels like the whole world makes sense within the community and does not make sense outside of the community. This is entrapment. If you leave you fear you will no longer be loved.
Spiritual abuse works because there is an ego component. When you are in the group, environment or relationship that is spiritually abusive, you are placed on a pedestal – the community believes it has the “right way” and you are part of it. The ego likes to feel special. But, invariably, being placed on a pedestal will lead to you being knocked off, after which you will work to get uplifted again. Then you will be placed up, knocked off, and you will work to get uplifted again. This cycle continues until it is broken. If a sexual component is part of the abuse, the woman will be the sexual “diva” until she has a need. But if she shuts down she will feel something is wrong with her and she will work to open back up again.
The effects this has are numerous. You will start to forget who you are, what you feel, what are your thoughts, needs, and feelings. There will be feelings of loss and strong euphoric experiences followed by deep depression and/or rage. You will feel a need to prove yourself and lead a “pure life”. This will always lead to a strong desire to “help others” and place others on the pedestal too. This is why spiritually abused people perpetrate by becoming charismatic leaders. They do not know they want to get out or how to heal.
The first step to healing from spiritual abuse is to find out what you are avoiding healing for yourself through the distraction of the community or institution. Get into counseling for support and find spiritual work that is designed to lead you to yourself, i.e. your intuition, your feelings, your purpose. Find what makes you shine. Seek out calmness and gentle touch.
Shoshana Des Chenes, Sacred Feminine Program and Priestess Works