Religion and politics should always be avoided, yet they seem to have so much influence on how we all function from day-to-day. Most families practice some sort of tradition that is inclusive of a particular set of religious belief systems, while more families—reportedly millennials—are tailoring their beliefs to include science-based facts and atheism/agnosticism.—a non-denominational, non-partisan online media company that provides information and commentary from various religious and nonreligious perspective—indicates that abuse combined with religious positions of power is extremely insidious and that abuse exists in many religions.

If you grew up with parents that took religion to the level of extremist or zealot, then you may understand how damaging it can be.

These 3 things are signs of suffering from spiritual abuse

1. The bible and religious ideologies were used to control your behavior

Some families force their offspring to chronically read religious scriptures and memorize them. If the child strays from studying scripture, praying, or complying they are often beaten or emotionally abused.

Remember James Dobson? He was the founder of “Focus on the Family (1977),” which focused on sadomasochism—getting parents to beat their children into submission because it is “God’s will.” Supposedly, Dobson himself was beaten as a child yet he grew up and passed the tradition on, which damaged millions of children through his ministry’s ideologies.

2. You were subjected to things that seemed delusional and unreasonable

If your bible studies were so serious that any disturbance was blamed on demon spirits, your parents may be delusional as well as abusive. If your parents told you that your family pet was possessed by demons for interrupting your scripture study, there may some issues there.

It is human nature to react to surrounding stimuli. Your family pet that moves around naturally, as animals do, is not demon possessed and is not trying to interrupt your interpretation of the “word.”

This form of isolation from reality is a common tactic that they use. They are suddenly an elitist that refuses to partake in or refuses to consider impurity or distraction, they are holy.

They prefer this isolationist behavior and they will condemn and mock you if you do not conform.

3. Your parent/s used the bible to justify their abusive behavior but demean yours

You better not question their tactics. Blind obedience is the way that they teach you to worship them and that their opinion is more important than the actual religion. They have actually replaced your religion with themselves and expect you to emulate their behavior and worship them.

They will demand that you totally submit, and if you do not, you will face physical, verbal, and emotional discipline.

When they abuse you, they will find scripture verses to justify it and also follow it up with verses to condemn your behavior.

The wounds

Sometimes children who are being molested by their parents are told that God wants them to be obedient. Adults that have suffered sexual abuse as children at the hand of a loved one suffer the effects for a lifetime. They were taught that submission and obedience supersede their personal boundaries and they were taught that the ones they love and trust will hurt them the most.

Submission and obedience are in a general sense virtues; so children are indoctrinated into these belief systems that teach them—that is why so many people feel that teaching children about religion before they are even cognizant is highly inappropriate.

It is the twisting of good things in order to do harm that is so disturbing about this kind of abuse.

The wounds of Spiritual Abuse are deep. You may lack the ability to appreciate the self and have a tough time asserting boundaries without feeling huge amounts of guilt. You may carry large burdens of care for others in the name of being “a good person,” but you enable others to harm you and break your boundaries.

The wounded are often deeply conflicted about doing the right thing and decision-making. They also can be very unconfident because they have never dared to ask themselves what they want, think, or feel—they are often unaware of where they stop and someone else begins. They seek external approval and often disregard how they feel inside, or forget how to find peace.

If you suffer from spiritual abuse, please talk to your therapist and reach out to find therapy groups that focus on healing from trauma.