3 more characteristics of spiritual abuse

[This is a part of a series on spiritual abuse.  You can see other posts in the series here as they get published.  A lot of this content is from the research of Dr. Lisa Oakley from Chester University.  I highly recommend her book with Justin Humphreys if you want to learn more about this!]

Let’s continue our deep dive into the good (not good) stuff.  Research has found that the following characteristics are present in cultures where spirituality can be misused to control or coerce.

(3) Enforced accountability 

2 of the characteristics of spiritual abuse

[This is a part of a series on spiritual abuse.  You can see other posts in the series here as they get published.  A lot of this content is from the research of Dr. Lisa Oakley from Chester University.  I highly recommend her book with Justin Humphrys if you want to learn more about this!  In that book, the team outlines the characteristics that are associated with spiritually abusive behavior. This post is my attempt to unpack two of those (with lots more to come!).]

Spiritual abuse characteristics are hard to nail down.  They’re complicated – and much like everything else I’ve mentioned – they exist on a spectrum.

Spiritual abuse and scary science

[This is a part of a series on spiritual abuse.  You can see other posts in the series here (as they are published.)  A lot of this content is from the research of Dr. Lisa Oakley from Chester University.  I highly recommend her book with Justin Humphrys if you want to learn more about this!]

This one is for the nerds out there – the folks like me, who want to understand how our brains can be blind to our own participation in abusive systems or be blind to abusive systems around us.

The road to spiritual abuse is paved with good intentions

This post is a part of a series on spiritual abuse.  You can see other posts in the series here (as they are published.)  A lot of this content is from the research of Dr. Lisa Oakley from Chester University.  I highly recommend her book** with Justin Humphrys if you want to learn more about this!]

One of the reasons it’s so hard to label something ‘spiritual abuse’ or ‘spiritual misuse’ is that it feels like such a personal and dramatic accusation.  That’s also one of the reasons we often fail to see our own responsibility in abusive situations.  It feels impossible to reconcile the possibility that we have been a part of something abusive when we know our intentions were anything but that.

Is it spiritual abuse? Check yes or no.

This post is a part of a series on spiritual abuse.  You can see other posts in the series here (as they are published.)  A lot of this content is from the research of Dr. Lisa Oakley from Chester University.  I highly recommend her book** with Justin Humphrys if you want to learn more about this!

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So, is it spiritual abuse? 

When we’re wondering if something is spiritually abusive, we prefer to think in binary terms: check yes or no.  But abuse is more of a spectrum than a checkbox.  If you are exposed to a culture with behavior outside the range of ‘spiritually healthy’, that culture includes elements of misuse of spirituality or abuse of spirituality.  The intensity or pervasiveness of that misuse or abuse of spirituality can vary dramatically.