Letter from a Survivor of Spiritual Abuse

25 November 2013, 06:00

Moderator

44

poppy2To all those who are a part of my life in some way:

Please don’t tell me that my parents loved me and “only wanted what was best” for me. When I hear you say that, I hear you telling me that all the spiritual abuse, oppression, and deep pain I have felt and experienced is not valid because my parents had good intentions.

Please don’t give me easy answers as I struggle to put together the broken pieces of my heart and heal from the pain of growing up in a spiritually-abusive environment. I appreciate that you care, but when you remind me that God calls me to forgive my parents, I hear you telling me that it’s not okay to hurt for everything that happened in my childhood and adolescence.

Please take the time to ask questions about my experience growing up in a world that was shaped by Bill Gothard and other highly fundamentalist individuals. It is incredibly difficult to live in a world that is so separate, isolated, and different, other people cannot even begin to comprehend what it is like. Yet every time someone cares enough to genuinely try to understand the world that I grew up in, I find a little more healing.

Please make the effort to ask me how I am really doing as I continue on this healing journey. I lived in isolation for so much of my life that I got used to not having anyone care whom I could talk to about how hard things were in our Gothard-influenced family. I want to talk about where I am at so that you know how much I am struggling in this journey of trying to live in freedom. However, because of the wounds of my past I am probably not going to volunteer that information unasked.

Please be sensitive to the fact that it was not my choice to grow up in isolation. I did not want to become an adult who had no frame of reference for the TV shows, music, books, and movies of my childhood and adolescence. When you find out that I haven’t seen a particular movie or read a certain book, please do not respond in shock. When you do, it hurts because I did not choose to avoid pop culture. My parents forced that on me.

Please take the time to reach out to and initiate relationship with me. I need you to understand that although I desperately want relationships with people like you, I have been deeply wounded. As a result, I often respond to the pain of my past by withdrawing when I feel that you don’t care enough or don’t have the time to be a part of my life. Please don’t give up on me or assume that if I need you, I will reach out to you. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming that I can’t do that and I need you to make the first move.

On behalf of all of us who have suffered from spiritual abuse, please take the time to understand the complexity of what we are trying to heal from. Please care enough to reach out to and show love to us, the marginalized and unseen ones. Please take the time to truly see us and to understand that beyond the insecurity, fear, and brokenness, we are trying to recover from a system that has left us broken and bleeding.

Thank you for caring and for being a part of my journey,

A Survivor

After years of living in bondage to legalism, shame, and guilt, Victoria is so grateful for God’s incredible grace which has opened her eyes to the destructive teachings of Bill Gothard and other similar individuals. Her journey of healing from spiritual abuse has led her to understand the nearness of Jesus in a new way. She has now thrown aside "standards" and is loving the joy that comes from walking in freedom.
All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

44 Comments

  1. E November 25, 2013 Reply

    The sentiment that "Your parents loved you and only wanted the best for you" sounds good but can really hurt. It's awful after saying, "I hurt because of some things that weren't right at home," to hear (in effect), "You're wrong to hurt about that." Seems like when the system can't be at fault, the child always has to be.

  2. Heather November 25, 2013 Reply

    I have a thought: The authority teachings of ATI end up de-humanizing the child always and forever, they have no rights to anything. It seems that the authority teachings both deify parents, and turn them into their child's mediator to God. Both of which are quite wrong.

    Hang with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

    No matter what age the offspring of ATI or other fundy parents are, they (offspring) are always and forever the bad guy, inferior to their parents in every respect, and all around lesser human beings, not to mention often slaves to the parent's will, and why is it that being a parent automatically makes you the governor of your child's soul? Esp when they are adults? Why does being a parent (to ATI) mean that no matter what the situation is, your 'authority's' decision is the right one. (Which is the deification of the parents.)

    The Authority teachings also turn parents against their children, by making them view their children as always rebellious objects to be subdued. This is where all this pain comes from, turning the natural nurturing of the parents into boot camp style trainers of people.

    So, how does this tie in to this article? This is why it is so unhelpful to say, 'well you need to just forgive your parents. They meant well.' While I absolutely believe in the power of forgiveness, and we need to do this, it's not actually a real answer, and it doesn't help.
    Secondly, while I can easily believe that many parents did have good intentions, at least initially, the proof is in the pudding. Most of the time the parents ended up being more concerned about their reputation as a family and parents, than actually accepting the fact that it's ok that your child isn't perfect, it's ok to walk them through all the painful growing up stages.. And that's if the families were lucky. Many children ended up with tyrannical, masochistic, AWFUL parents who love their own pride more than anything else.

    • Victoria December 3, 2013 Reply

      So true Heather! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Nancy January 17, 2014 Reply

      Years ago I went to a Basics Seminar with my then 12 year old son, and it was this issue that kept me from going further. Being there seem to create a struggle between my flesh caught fearing the evils in the world, and my spirit's need to follow Scripture and be free to walk in love.

      1 John 4:18
      18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

      As a parent I have a gift from God that helps to teach me about God's love, my child. If I fear the world, thus not trusting God's love and presence watching over my family, how do I continue to walk in love? I once read about the value in looking at a position through its antithesis using this verse. It taught me the dangers of fear. "Just as perfect love casts out fear, likewise perfect fear casts out love." My conclusion was I couldn't live focused on protection to the point of needing to control every circumstance out of fear. I would only end up destroying love. The true answer was the need to know my Savior in a deeper and more meaningful way, and respond to life's challenges with a focus on His great and perfect love, a love that would take Him willingly to the Cross. This was the only way I could see to live the above verse.

      As a parent I know we live in a fallen world. I know all have sinned and all will be sinned against. I know as it says in Isaiah 59 that whoever shuns evil will become a prey. But I also know from that same chapter that The Lord saw and was displeased/grieved, and with His own arm He worked salvation and justice. When my son falls short all I can do is point him to the One who loves him unto death, even death on a Cross. It is the only way he will learn to walk as a man seeking to know Jesus, God's exact image, more everyday.

      The best way to forgive your parents is to ask The Lord to deliver them from their fears. As He moves their hearts a new relationship will become possible.

      • 'Megan' January 17, 2014 Reply

        This is beautiful Nancy, thank you!

    • Ann November 8, 2014 Reply

      I too went through many, many years of Bill Gothard seminars and even "drank the koolaid" for awhile. What you wrote is so true especially in my family; and yes forgiving our parents is so HARD to do especially when they are STILL doing the same things and we are all adults with our own children (they tried to push that garbage on our children and we put our foot down). We had the added adventure of being PK's and my parents ran a mission that we lived in so you can see my dilemma It is so GOOD to read that other people feel the same way and that my siblings and I are NOT "crazy".

  3. grateful November 25, 2013 Reply

    I know this may sound callous, but at some point the gratuitous self pity needs to stop. Even if the parents had good intentions or bad intentions, whatever, most people have pain and hurt from their past - including abuse. I personally came from a pretty FUBAR situation (and ironically found healing at a Basic)and found that when I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I could then work on healing and getting on with life. Perhaps shift your focus from "victim" to "overcomer" and move forward in grace and peace.

    • RyanR November 25, 2013 Reply

      As a teacher once told me, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." No one is going to take your advice - even if there is a nugget of truth in it - if your comment essentially reads, "suck it up, buttercup."

      Perhaps you could try exercising some empathy and meeting people where they actually are rather than where you think they ought to be?

      Trust me. A friend who climbs into a ditch to help you dig yourself out until you see that you can dig yourself out the rest of the way is a better friend than the friend perched on his high horse shouting down to you that you simply need to climb out.

      • grateful November 26, 2013 Reply

        I hear you, I really do, however, lets put some perspective on things: calling oneself a victim because they missed out on a bunch of pop culture garbage and were perhaps made to dress a certain way, and hence felt isolated, is devaluing the word. Pain and struggle? Turn on the evening news or pick up a publication put out from an overseas organization like Gospel for Asia or the like, there you will see struggling. Sometimes a dose of reality is what one needs to get out of the mire. or as you put it "suck it up Buttercup." yes, there is a time to suck it up, you have to or the pain will destroy you.

        • esbee November 26, 2013

          I agree, Christians in communist and Islamic countries certainly have it much worse than Christians here BUT the devil uses whatever he can to devalue and defeat those who believe in Christ. In communist and Islamic countries the devil uses the politics and culture of atheisism or Islamic ideals to make rules against people even being Christian. Here in the good ol USA the devil uses the church itself (rules about how to live a Christian life). Shows that anywhere you live, legalism is a world wide demonic tool for tripping up God's chosen. But no matter how deep the pit, God is deeper still (from Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place) and has given us healing, resilience, creativity and answers through Jesus.

        • "Hannah" December 1, 2013

          Grateful, with all due respect, I think you have yet to understand what many of us went through. I mean, missing out on pop culture was a part of it, but only a part. We speak out, now, against the injustices and gross abuse, physically, psychologically, and emotionally, that a Gothard mindset is wont to propogate.

          I think the point of the above article, is that everyone's journey is different, and it is out of place for anyone other than the person who suffered the trauma, to tell them when they are done grieving their pain.

          If you feel you have already healed from the pain of your past, then perhaps this forum is not for you.

    • Heather November 25, 2013 Reply

      Well self pity isn't what I got from this article. A grand, sweeping statement like that is utterly unhelpful, and actually the type of thing the author mentioned. Self pity isn't the phrase you use to describe people who are so messed up they don't know which end of them is up.

      I get that seeing story after story, and hearing cry after cry, it can get overwhelming, and seem as if everyone is just kicking back and having a sob fest, but it's definitely not the case here. Keep in mind that all these stories are coming from different people, all of whom are at a different stage of healing, and sometimes articles like these are most helpful to those who have been the most recent 'escapees' from an abusive situation.

    • MatthewS November 26, 2013 Reply

      Have you blogged about your story? I'd be interested to read it.

      What would you point to as helpful material (blogs, books, etc.) for helping people move forward?

      While I agree that it is not in a person's own best interest to marinade in victim-ness forever, I also think that sometimes identifying what it is that is bothering them and acknowledging the wounds that have been dismissed and glossed over can be a crucial part of that process. A question that comes to mind is: How do you avoid being like Job's comforters? They sat quietly for a long time and were convinced that their advice was right, but in the end they were not the good guys. How would you know if you were being more like Job's comforters than like the Wonderful Counselor? (and I'm not saying you are, I'm asking, how would you know?)

      • grateful November 26, 2013 Reply

        Matthew:
        My story is brief: alcoholism, divorce, physical, psychological and sexual abuse in the fam and the reverberating effects from all of the above.

        Thought provoking comment as usual(I would love to have coffee with you sometime and chat for a couple hours)
        2 things come to mind - 1) I bristle when people declare themselves victims because of missing out on pop culture - which is wood, hay and stubble at best and very destructive on many levels at worst - so your point about identifying with them is difficult for me in that regard. When living out Biblical Christianity there will always be an element of isolation - we are referred to as aliens, sojourners, etc. many times in Scripture, so I feel it is dangerous to identify those elements as abuse. IMHO that is one step away from determining that all aspects of Christianity are abuse and as a society we are close to that step already 2) We suffer, as a generation, from a victim mentality and social mores propagated from gov't, mass media and education fuel that mentality. To overcome, one must fight that prevailing mindset.

        My intention is not to negate any possible abuse, I have no way of knowing, and abuse is somewhat relative. Nor am I trying to blame the victim, just making the point that self pity can be addictive and somewhat pleasing to the flesh (again, been there).

        • Christy E. Bell November 27, 2013

          Hear, hear, Grateful. And yes, X-ATIers, I've read this site extensively. Y'all can't get back your childhoods (and I'm truly sorry) but you can rent Netflix and get caught up on pop-culture! I promise you haven't missed much. =-) I'm sorry for the oppressive system y'all were forced to live in, but it's time something was DONE about it, on a personal and public level. And please consider that life is grievous no matter what kind of a "system" you live in. And as trite as it sounds, Grace and it's healing is as real as life is.

          I wish healing and overcoming for everyone.

        • 'Megan' January 17, 2014

          Christy, 'It's about time something was DONE about it, on a personal and public level.'

          Well what did you think this forum was for in the first place?

    • Carolynn November 26, 2013 Reply

      Grateful, I believe that is the goal of Recovering Grace - to help those who have been affected by spiritual abuse to move from this place of incredible pain and confusion (as described in the Letter from a Survivor) to overcoming and living in grace and peace. It's a process. Thanks for your patience with us as we move along our journey.

      • Ann November 8, 2014 Reply

        I too thought that was what this young man was doing. I didn't sense he was boo hooing about missing pop culture; just stating a small fact of his life while his parents followed ATI/Bill Gothard. This writing may be part of his recovery and who are we to judge - there may be more to his story than we know...but when you are isolated that way he states as a child/teen - it makes it hard for some to become ADULTS - they missed certain stages of their lives. Let him be

  4. Kelly November 26, 2013 Reply

    Millions in this country have suffered spiritual abuse though most don't even KNOW it. But they have. There are millions who have been taught that God is a myth, that Jesus has no place in our everyday lives. That we'll be truly happy is we just try and have a good time. There are many who believe very wrong things about God so, in fact, the god they believe in is not really God. As children they may have been allowed to watch every movie, listen to every song, read every book, hang out with anyone they wished but still, they too suffer because they don't know real freedom in Christ either. The parents generally don't make these choices to allow or not allow things because they hate their children...many of them do what they DO believe to be best. But don't you think that if what they're doing is really damaging to their children, then they obviously aren't following Jesus Christ in those areas? That is to say, they don't know the Best. Which means, they NEED Jesus Christ in those areas. Are parents some deity that we should be bitter towards because in their all knowing state they chose to abuse us? No. They are humans who messed up in their ignorance...they believed wrongly for themselves and for their parenting.

    When Corrie Ten Boom decided she needed to forgive one of the men from the concentration camp she was in, where her sister died, she wasn't saying she that it was wrong for her to be hurt, but that her Jesus was greater. Jesus Christ IS greater than all the fallen humans that have impacted our lives and He is where we find healing and forgiveness. No, we didn't choose how we would be brought up, but would we have known what was best if we, in our fallen selves could have chosen? Probably not. We were all given different situations and Jesus has the perfect healing for each one.

    • Heather November 26, 2013 Reply

      Please don't compare apples to oranges. There's a huge difference between growing up with no knowledge of God (or a different religion), and growing up with a false, sham Gospel that passes itself off as the truth and light.

      And while I get your overall point, this website doesn't exist to expose every religion's form of abuse, this website exists to expose the abuse and lies of ONE particular religious group.

      Do you know how many years it took Corrie to be able to forgive those men? It wasn't the moment she stepped out of the abuse, it took a very long time.She had to process, heal, process, heal, and work through it.

  5. LJ November 26, 2013 Reply

    As I read your letter, I felt the pain you are experiencing. I was abused as a child and was in my early 30s before I ever realized that was what it was and told a friend about it. It took me years to work through the process of dealing with the abuse. You will grieve for so many things as you go through the healing process. Grieve for what was stolen from you, for how you were treated, for the lack of grace in your life. Just know that our Heavenly Father is there for you each step of the process and at times will "carry you in His arms" (Isaiah 40) when the pain seems too great. May you continue to find healing in His grace.

    • Victoria December 3, 2013 Reply

      Thank you for your words of love and grace LJ. I so appreciate it.

    • Sally March 30, 2014 Reply

      Very well put.

      We are fearfully and wonderfully made and I think in part we are complicated beings as is our Creator. It does take time to process things out. I used to skirt things under the rug from my childhood. It does not stay there forever. I think God does want us to sort through things. I don't like it, I don't like spending time on it but I see it is necessary to be healthy moving forward.

      Grieving is a process and it takes time to got through the stages and process. Its interesting that they can see patterns in human behavior going through stages, proof it is necessary.

      I am sorry for the years I felt silently "just get over it and move on". Sometimes we can't, and it shows our pride in wanting to be in control but not able to.

      I am grieving this whole thing from my perspective, frustrated at who blind I was and also at how I can't seem to get through it fast. I realize I didn't walk in neck deep overnight, I won't get out overnight and in the process God has shown me how much he desires us to come alongside those who are hurting, putting our judgement at God's feet, and learning to accept love as well.

      This article is great food for thought.

      Your individual story of great loss is important. I know you will continue the journey to peace.

  6. JPU November 27, 2013 Reply

    Yeah, I guess that comment is about as helpful as telling someone, right after their loved one dies after a long illness "oh well, he/she is in a better place" or after a break-up "oh well, there's lots of fish in the sea". These things may be true, but right now you are grieving, right? Thanks for sharing your perspective. May spiritual abuse continue to be exposed and we all learn how to deal with it, and NOT to do it to others God places in our care

  7. Renee November 29, 2013 Reply

    I am the parent who harmed her kids and also one who was herself harmed. I so deeply regret what I did to them...I would give anything to undo it. I am filled with self hatred and condemnation many times a day. The worst is knowing I myself was a false teacher and taught a false Jesus to my kids...a judging, harsh one. Lord have mercy and me and on them!!!!

    I'm so sorry and only those who have been spiritually abused, as both my parents were themselves, can understand the horror. It is a darkness only God Himself can reach into...I believe Jesus Christ...the real one...can relate to this pain and himself despised the cruel religious spirit that is such a horrible counterfeit.

    I am rethinking and repenting of my authoritarian and controlling parenting style which has squashed my kids personalities, individualities and filled them with fear. My oldest clearly has OCD and seems traumatized. I have repented to them and will continue to do so and let them know...IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. I WAS WRONG AND THERE WAS NO EXCUSE FOR IT. I'm also taking them to every support group I can find, including one at the stop child abuse group, because this was religious child abuse.

    I despise the Michael Pearl doctrine with a passion. It is from the pit of hell. Literally.

    I am still a follower and lover of Jesus Christ. I believe his blood forgives even one such as me, but that the harsh religious are many times worse than the others sins we would have avoided. MUCH WORSE.

    So sorry for your suffering. I am so sorry for your suffering.
    Please forgive us. We have deeply failed you. We have deeply misrepresented Jesus Christ. We were Pharisees and ruled by pride, and self righteousness. I am so sorry and know that you are strong to have survived this and you will come through this. You will survive! You have witnessed pure evil but know that as evil as religious is, there is a love, mercy and healing that is all the more beautiful.

    Thank you for your voice and your witness.

    • 'Megan' November 30, 2013 Reply

      Renee, thank you so much for this. If only my mom would say what you have said. At least you know, and are trying not to hurt anyone anymore. Thank you for that.

    • "Hannah" December 1, 2013 Reply

      That means a lot, for a parent to acknowledge when they were wrong. I, for one, don't wish my parents to eternally hate themselves for the things they did to me in childhood. But an honest assessment of the situation, and consistently owning one's fault in the matter... This has potential for great psychological healing to all involved.

    • Victoria December 3, 2013 Reply

      Thank you Renee. As someone who was a child in the system, your willingness as a parent to recognize and repent of the wrongness of it all means so much to me. I pray you and your children are able to experience the healing and grace of Jesus in the difficult journey of recovery.

    • Ann November 8, 2014 Reply

      Thank YOU for being that kind of parent to say - "I am sorry"! I am parent and I have had to say that a time or too myself. MY own parents never will and too this day will NEVER admit they did anything wrong not spiritual abuse, mental, physical or anything. They will defend how they raised us until the day they die and will still say they raised rotten kids. We even received a "poison by the pen" letter today - as we all are over 40 years old. THANK YOU for taking your kids to a support group and please make sure they get individual counseling as well!

  8. Matt December 3, 2013 Reply

    Hey "A Survivor", maybe we should skype each other and exchange our experiences:) I am a 17 year old student who is still under the ATI shadow and though I have left the system long ago, I still have to bear with the toxic teachings and fight off the influence of fundamentalism. P.S.I want to thank the people who thought of beginning Recovering Grace :) It really saved my sanity!

  9. Matt December 3, 2013 Reply

    "grateful" Your comments strike me as uncaring, you may have a good experience in the system but I did not, when you mix ATI with Asian culture, controlling plus controlling equals super controlling.

  10. Victoria December 3, 2013 Reply

    Matt-I would be open to skyping sometime although since I'm still living at home with my parents it might be a little difficult to find a time when there aren't people around.

    • Matt December 3, 2013 Reply

      I am also living with my parents, my e-mail is 1416.matthiastead@gmail.com, maybe we can fix a time when we can skype. mind you, the time difference can be a buggering problem.

  11. Kelly December 5, 2013 Reply

    Matt,
    I think you should keep in touch with Victoria through this site. Just my opinion.

  12. A Roddy December 8, 2013 Reply

    I also find the Grateful posters comments uncaring. There is good and bad in everything. Just because there is bad pop culture doesn't mean to get rid of everything. Systems like ATI shun pop culture instead of giving people the wisdom to choose good over bad. We all need outlets. Music and TV provide them. You just have to ignore comments with strawman arguments.

    • grateful December 9, 2013 Reply

      could not shunning be wise thing to do? Prudence does dwell with wisdom. What is a strawman? what does that mean exactly?

      • "Hannah" January 18, 2014 Reply

        SHUN ALL THE THINGS!!

        Sorry. Resist a joke, I could not ;)

  13. Joy December 8, 2013 Reply

    Well-said, Victoria. Thank you for putting into words the feelings of this survivor of parental "good intentions".

  14. Jane December 22, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for writing this. Your words brought a bit more healing to me today.

  15. Christine March 7, 2014 Reply

    Thank you for taking a stance and sharing it, Victoria. Its really helpful to read about someone who's in this stage of the recovery process. I feel an immense pressure from others - and from myself - to "get over it" or "make something good of it," but no one should be rushed through this journey. This is our pain to feel and our loss to mourn for as long and or as short as we like. We were robbed of the freedom to have our own thoughts and feelings. Stuffing into some neat little box or recovery story before we are ready only adds insult to injury. Thank you. I'll be sharing this with others so that they understand where I'm at.

    For those that are afraid that your empathy will enable us to wallow in victimhood forever: Don't worry. Your asking questions and letting us talk about it without agenda and timeframe IS helping us air our wounds and heal. No need for insightful commentary or a path to the future. Interest, sympathy, and time is all we need.

  16. Melody March 8, 2014 Reply

    Words cannot express how reading this article, moved my soul... I have a story to tell, I'm just not emotionally ready, I have come so far in my healing... I am 44 now, I was first introduced to The Basic Seminars around age 14... It's been along journey, but I have finally learned to love myself,for me that means choosing my emotional state of mind... I will share one day, just say a prayer for me , as I do the same for all of you... For those that are of the opinion that we should just get over it, forget, and go on...I pity your ignorance, and I beg you to reconsider your words before you write them, Noone should ever be ashamed for their feelings, thoughts, or personal experiences.In this situation as a SURVIVOR, I will just consider you another trolling Bully, who is desensitized to the human experience, and too stupid to realize it.

  17. Aimee Dawson May 25, 2015 Reply

    I've been struggling with the after-effects of spiritual abuse for the past 4 years. I want to find closure and peace, but don't want to rush myself or hear the same advice all over again. What do you recommend?

    • Victoria June 1, 2015 Reply

      Aimee,for me, going to counseling played a huge part in my journey of finding healing and closure from all the spiritual abuse I experienced. In addition, finding healthy and strong community and in some ways "starting over" (for me, that meant moving out and going to a different church) was so good as it helped me feel like I had some semblance of normality, in spite of everything I experienced. I also HIGHLY recommend the book "Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for Daughters of Patriarchy" by Hillary MacFarland (It's pretty expensive on Amazon but you may check into doing an interlibrary loan for it through your library, that's what I did). It was so encouraging to read something by someone who really got it and who knew what I had been through, as it can be hard to feel like no one understands.

  18. Rachel May 25, 2015 Reply

    Aimee, I don't know where you are in your thinking about God-- many who have been spiritually abused by men who are supposedly the mouthpieces of God want nothing to do with the Creator and lover of our souls. That's totally understandable, and God can deal with that! I believe that in these cases, He is a gentle presence, and at some point, the damaged person will be able to realize His love and grace. If you are open to Him, and are able to separate Him from men who have wickedly used Him as a means to get what they want for themselves (control and power), please try reading the book of John in the Bible, and ask God, the one true God, to speak to you personally, to show Himself to you. I have read it several times, just to distill God's voice, and rid myself of all the other interpretations from so many years of indoctrination. I have to read the Bible this way, because I heard it all for so many years just as the man presenting it wanted me to hear it. (I grew up under BG and ATIA, so these were my formative years that are now being undone.)

    RG has several book recommendations, including "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse," as well as some great articles on this site. Many things written by David Orrison have been helpful to me here, especially "Stolen Treasures," and "Was it All Wrong?"

    I don't think that we can rush through this process. It took so many years to be, then it often takes a long time to recognize and accept that we have been spiritually abused, and the process to work through recognition, acceptance, and healing-- and grieving and anger!-- is not generally an overnight thing. Don't despair! It is part of your life journey, and maybe it will be the means of helping someone else someday. Counselling with someone who is experienced in dealing with survivors of spiritual abuse could be very helpful.

    These are my personal thoughts. I hope someone with more experience-- or who has come out the other side healthy and strong-- will weigh in. I will pray that you find answers and health and freedom and strength.

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