(1023) Wed 6 Sep 95 19:35
By: Lynda Bustilloz
@MSGID: 1:109/611.0 304e3426
@PID: BWQBBS 2.90E BETA [EVAL]
Found this on the Internet and thought it bears repeating here:
Recovery from religious abuse
By Eric Merrill Budd
What happens to individuals who have been psychologically abused
and morally betrayed by fundamentalist cultic religious groups?
How can they recover from the damage done? Physically leaving such
a group is relatively easy, but the emotional and psychological
departure can take months or even years. This is why many people do
not understand how any person can stay within a situation of religious
abuse - much the same way that people fail to see how battered women
stay with their abusers.
Such dysfunctional and destructive groups often use manipulation, fear,
and deception to maintain a hold on members. They also shower their prey
with unbelievable amounts of affection and approval for staying in the group
and meeting their expectations ("love-bombing"). Groups also control and
distort information from the outside. Thus it becomes a sin to read any
"worldly" publications or "spiritual pornography." The group makes an
extremely sharp distinction between right and wrong, good and evil;
everything in the group is positive (godly), everything outside is negative
(satanic). Ambiguity, doubts, and serious questions are not tolerated.
The authority of the group's leadership is virtually absolute. All problems
are oversimplified and deflected either away from the group or back towards
the individual (this is a methodology that I have come to call conflict
It is no wonder, therefore, that the religiously abused frequently suffer
from emotional and psychological problems. I believe that it is high time
that our society recognizes and deals with religious abuse as a
social-psychological disorder in itself.
Generally, a person who breaks involvement with a dysfunctional group will
encounter the following problems:
Depression - the product of group-induced self-doubt and self-blame.
Isolation and loneliness - the shock of crossing the barrier from one social
environment to another.
Impairment of decision-making and other intellectual skills.
Floating - occasional lapses into the group's imposed mindset, often
triggered by certain stimuli (music, symbols, key words or phrases, etc.).
Difficulty in talking about group involvement - often related to strong
feelings of guilt, fear, and bitterness.
Interpersonal difficulties - communication, expression, making new friends,
organized activities, dating, emotional and physical intimacy, etc. Recent
walk aways are frequently mistrustful and suspicious of other people and
So, how does one recover? How does a person heal the wounds of religious
abuse? Hopefully, within a caring and understanding new social setting.
This can be a family, a support or therapy group, or an organized community
such as a mainstream church, religious group, or humanist society. It should
also be done with patience and the consideration that recovery will take
time and effort. The following are some ideas for persons who have walked
away from religious abuse and who are on the road to reclaiming their lives.
Work towards trusting yourself and relying on your own abilities.
Put your experience down in writing. This will help you to evaluate,
understand, and cope with your past involvement in the abusive group.
Get in touch with other people who have gone through similar experiences,
either one-on-one or in a support group.
Find a hobby or pastime to reinforce a positive sense of accomplishment.
When floating occurs, firmly remind yourself that the episode was triggered
by some stimulus. Remember also that it will pass. Identify the trigger,
learn to make a new association, and repeat the new association until it
overrides the old one. Talking it over with someone who undersands can
really help, too.
Handle decisions, tasks, and relearning of interpersonal skills one step at
a time. Don't rush yourself, talk and think things over, and don't be afraid
if you make mistakes - we all do!
Be more willing to help people as you go along. This builds up self-esteem
and exercises your problem-solving skills.
Take a breather from organized religion for about three to nine months, at
least. Deal with your questions about religion, ethics, and philosophy in
an honest and challenging manner.
Remember, you are no longer a victim but a survivor!
Lynda Bustilloz email@example.com
þ TLX v4.10 þ Heretics are people who see with their own eyes.
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