I have always said that physical abuse is easier to take than emotional, verbal or spiritual abuse. Now before you crucify me for that statement, I am a survivor of every kind of abuse, including sexual. The reason for this bold statement comes from the actuality of a bruise to show the mark where the offense happened.
As a survivor of all types of abuse, I find that the most difficult wound to convince a person they possess are the “bruises” from spiritual abuse. I have encountered person after person who has questioned the abuse they have suffered at the hands of the church and its leaders. They question because in the “church” we are taught not to question, but to honor. We are taught to be alike, rather than be apart. We are taught to submit, rather than to stand independently.
One quick disclaimer so you don’t think that I am anti- church: I personally work at a seminary, so I have great respect for the position of pastor, but not too much to know that they are not human, fallible, and potential abusers, only if they allow themselves to be.
We can discuss spiritual abuse all day, story after story, but where would that get us? Nowhere. Full of bitterness and unforgiveness. No impact on those who hurt us in the first place.
What we CAN do is allow ourselves to heal from church wounds. Allow ourselves to separate the human from the spirit. Allow ourselves to see church as a system corrupted by human ambition rather than a spiritual pursuit.
So what can we do to heal from the spiritual abuse we have suffered?
Church wounds are real. Spiritual abuse is real. The only way to eradicate this problem in the church is to talk about it, make room for authentic stories, and allow people to be who they were designed to be outside of the confines of our judgement.
Dr. Cassie Reid is passionate about the synthesis of the clinical and spiritual in the field of therapy and beyond which includes Church Rehab. It started as a vision in 2012 to provide a safe place for those in ministry, those hurt by ministry, and everyone in between.
Dr. Reid currently serves as creator and director of Master of Marriage & Family Therapy graduate degree program at The King’s University in Southlake, Texas. Her professional experience includes serving as a school counselor and special educator in a North Texas school district, interning at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, managing the Texas Woman’s University Counseling and Family Therapy Clinic, working as a member of the National Institute of Health research grant in pain management, partnering with numerous grief organizations, consulting projects for a variety of organizations as well as launching her private counseling practice in 2010.
Dr. Reid is author of Unwrapped: Open The Gift Of Holiday Sanity and has a new book that will launch in 2021. Dr. Reid and her family reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.