It’s 3:15am as I write this article. I woke in the night thinking about this topic as it’s been on my mind for some time, maybe months. To be honest with you though, I went to bed really early, like 7pm so I got plenty of sleep. I don’t want you thinking I’m sleep-typing!

I’m writing about this topic because I have to. Something in me is driven to expose the wrongdoings of manipulative people in places of spiritual authority and power. I could certainly write about cool places in the world and get more likes, but it’s about the information, not the popularity to me.

Between this blog, our YouTube channel and several Social Media support groups I participate in, plus hundreds of hours of reading books and watching videos, I’ve learned something very powerful by listening to hundreds of people: Spiritual Abuse affects the mind in exactly the same way physical and sexual abuse does.

The victim is tricked into believing “I need this, even if it hurts, is uncomfortable and people are warning me otherwise!

Like a dog that returns to his vomit Is a fool who repeats his foolishness. – Proverbs 26:11, AMP

The Cycle of Abuse

I don’t mention often anymore, but I left what is considered by most of the world, both religious and academic, to be a cult. It is a modern Christian church that uses a parcel of truth, a pinch of authenticity and a sprinkle of love to create a system of dependency upon the leadership of the church rather than Christ – and it works, really well sad to say. Our loyalty was to the leader. We believed his pleasure was equal to God’s pleasure. If the leader said jump, it was as if Jesus said jump, and we jumped. Boy did we jump!

Cycle-of-AbuseThis system taught that you were unable to succeed in your Christian walk without this man. We went to church nearly 200x a year (3 services every week plus special times through the year) and it was ingrained into us that if we missed one of those services, Satan was beginning to work in our lives.

We were taught that this one pastor was the umbrella of protection against God’s wraith and against satans snares. His[Pastor] words were HIS[Jesus] words. His[Pastor] standards were HIS[Jesus] commands. There was no leading ‘of the spirit’. That was the Pastor’s job. The pastor taught, “If God has something for you, he will confirm it in me.”

In other words, you need this. You need this man to be under God’s blessings. You need this one individual person to succeed in life. If you get out of this persons control and things start to happen in your life that is uncomfortable, you’ll begin to think it is your fault, if you would just have listened to that person this wouldn’t be happening…

The effect is like a “pendulum of pain,” said Steven Stosny, counselor and founder of the anger and violence management program CompassionPower, which treats people convicted of abuse in the home.

Abuse victims will “leave out of either fear, anger or resentment,” he said. “But then, after the fear, anger or resentment begins to subside, they feel guilt, shame, anxiety, and that takes them back.”

Just waiting for the curses to begin…

Vomiting is a natural reaction of the body and it is usually caused by ingesting something your body rejects, something poisonous or contaminated. We hear all the time about food poisoning, eating food that is expired and harmful for consumption. If your body didn’t naturally dispose of that poison it would spread into your other and cause more disruption and perhaps damage.

There is something about the spirit that God gave us that behaves in much the same way. It is that sixth sense we talk about. That ‘something’ you can’t quite put a finger on but you know it is there. An internal discontent, a small still voice.

Admittedly, this was me in the months after I left the cult. I was literally waiting, daily, for the curses to begin. I stopped paying the church the 15% of my income they demanded and I was sure any day I’d get fired, the car would blow up, something major was going to come crashing down as proof that I’d really screwed up. But it didn’t.

As tension builds up in a situation of abuse, we are preparing to vomit, and like all of us, we swallow and drink water, focus, and concentrate, do everything we can to make it NOT happen. It is so uncomfortable I would rather NOT vomit, even though vomiting will get the yuck out. And just like the Cycle of Abuse chart – that tension rises until finally, the incident happens.

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It comes out, the anger spills forth, we spit out what has been troubling us for so long and some of us take the leap and leave the abusive situation. The cult, the abuser. And then, fear kicks in.

What if he was right…what if God is going to curse me now that I left. What if my flat tire was God saying Hello! What are you doing?? What if my bad financial choices were God pulling the strings and spanking me for not giving my money to the pastor? What if…I’ve got to go back!

giphy-downsizedAnd this is where the dog returns to his folly as Proverbs 26:11 says. In fact, the entire chapter is about folly. The ingestion of things unsettling and poisonous is ignored, swallowed down and chased with a good shot of coverup hugs and celebration.

This phase always feels good – while distrust sits in the back of everyone’s mind, the kiss and makeup phase is fun – ask any long-term couple. The euphoric makeup scene always comes after great conflict or a fight.

The final phase of abuse settles in – the calm before the storm. The one benefit any counselor has in watching people return to abuse is knowing that the cycle restarts, and as painful as it is to watch, the great hope is that somewhere between cycles it becomes too much and the victim makes their final escape.

It is in this phase where the returning victim claims there was never any abuse. It was a misunderstanding. Sadly, we’ll even hear them say, It was all me, I got confused, I made stuff up, I let other people blind me to the love that he really has for me.

This is where the abuser smiles, extends love, makes promises, opens up. They will say things like, “I just held out hope you would come back and look, God answered my prayers!”, or, “You felt it, you know this is right!”. Pretty, enticing words that don’t actually cover up anything of what happened before – it just tickles the euphoric senses of the dog returning to its folly. The comfortable kennel that smells like it always did. The blanket is matted in just the same spots. It feels secure. The treats are just the same bacon flavored Kibbles and Bits as before. It feels like home…

Until one day.

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Posted by dividinghisword

I am the father of two, husband of one, and lover of Christ! I simply seek to spread the Word of God unadulterated, not filtered by denominational interpretation. I have a degree in Theology from Texas Bible College but more so I have His Word!

8 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post! It is definitely within our reach to make the decision to break cycles of abuse. http://www.hopehasahome.wordpress.com

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  2. Do you still have loved ones within the system? Have you found an effective way to bring them out, or does it just create tension?

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    1. LaTisha – My wife and son (adult) is still completely in and it is a very difficult position for both of us. I must be patient and through prayer and evidence show the true Jesus. It is it as hard for her being a life long member.

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  3. wanderlust2004 April 2, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    To this day, when something goes wrong aka “life happens” I have to be aware and take my thoughts out of the mindset of God is punishing me. It actually makes me want to cry that I predominantly know God a a fearful God in an unhealthy way. I am slowly learning that God is love, which is back to the basics for me. Its like everyday I have to unravel a string that miles long in terms of thought process. Thanks for your posts and videos, they are helpful.

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    1. I still struggle with those same thoughts myself! Praying blessings for the release of our minds and to find that freedom in Christ knowing he isn’t there to condemn or judge our every move!

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  4. Wow, superb weblog structure! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you made blogging look easy. The total glance of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

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  5. Jesus is my Head May 29, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    It’s tough for me… after leaving a Christian Fundamentalist semi-cult, the pastor left me with words indicating that God may discipline me for “judging his people.” It broke my heart to leave people I had grown up with, and tried leaving with providing constructive criticism – specifically, that the church culture didn’t seem to be fostering a loving, non-condemning or grace-based (as opposed to works-based) environment. Ever since I left, I’ve had similar thoughts to what you’ve described – I’ve been waiting for judgement to fall on me. And, for me I’m afraid it’s begun to happen. My closest of kin directly witnessed a bloody suicide only feet away from them. They’re now suffering from PTSD. This is now me operating in fear, but my wife’s friend has also indicated something is wrong (it seems to be serious), and she’ll be calling her soon to explain what it is. In addition, my sister is (and has been for years) on the balance between choosing a life of destruction and accepting Christ. Both my wife and I personally have been experiencing much growth in our walk with Jesus. Our lives haven’t been negatively impacted directly. It’s just hard having seen my family go through some very sharp trials. It’s hard not to fear and wonder if it has something to do with me leaving the church, ya know?

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    1. Sir, I want to pray for you but most of all to tell you that Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn thee’, in John 8 to the women taken in adultery. Listen, the only people Jesus cursed were the Pharisees. The adultress, the thief, the tax collectors, all the most vile of societies were sitting at his feet, and Scripture tells us, “While YOU were still a sinner, this is when Christ died for you.”

      Yes, he wants us to keep ourselves spotless from sin, but it was in our lowest places that He came to us and said, “I’ll redeem you. I’m not here to condemn you.”

      If you have fear in your heart that God is causing harm to people around you for leaving a church, then my friend, please know in your heart, that THAT is the deception of Satan. God is NOT the author of confusion. Jesus literally came (read Matthew, Chapters 5 7, 10, 23) to tear down the men who prop themselves up as God’s mouthpiece, dispensing curses at free will to those who don’t allow them to control their lives.

      I’m so sorry you have this fear, and that you’ve been impacted by it. I know your pain, I felt it, I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have and still do feel it. I wish there was a way to take it away but the only remedy is to place your loyalty and trust in Christ. Pastors can be a good thing, and the Church (body of Christ, not a denomination) can be a redeeming place, but if your faith is only valid if you have a pastor telling you what to do, it isn’t true faith!

      James 1:5 says that if ANYONE lacks wisdom (knowing what to do) that you can ask God because he will not chastise you for having questions.

      Jesus said in John 4:1-5 to ‘Challenge, question and consider every spirit (teacher, pastor, their motivation) whether it’s from God because many false teachers will try to deceive you.”

      And Paul said in Galatians 2:4 that many so-called Christians will try to drag you back into bondage (obedience to law and works) because they despise your FREEDOM or Liberty in Christ. Your loyalty needs to be to JESUS, not a Pastor or a church building. Look, in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul teaches that the Head of Man is Christ, and the head of Women is the Man, and the head of Christ is God. (Headship is authority). No-where in the authority structure is the Pastor. Pastors can be a blessing and they are a GIFT from God when they take their position correctly, but any pastor that tells you God will curse you for leaving their church is NOT a pastor and I pray you are free from that fear. God doesn’t hand out curses unless you curse him, and deny him. If you are walking with faith (Romans 14:22) then you are doing what He asked of you. Obedience to a pastor was never one time demanded in Scripture.

      Blessings to you – please use our Contact page if you need to talk more.

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