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How do church leaders become spiritual abusers?

Spiritual abuse by church leaders can be deeply damaging to those who experience it. Some are ‘scarred for life’ by what happens to them.

Comment John Benton
Figure Image
photo: iStock

A working definition of spiritual abuse would be something like this: ‘Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is characterised by a systematic pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in a religious context. This abuse may include manipulation and exploitation; enforced accountability, censorship of decision making, requirements for secrecy and silence, coercion to conform, control through the misuse of Scripture, requirements of obedience through a suggestion that the leadership has some kind of ‘divine’ position, isolation as a means of punishment, and superiority and elitism.’