Spiritual Abuse Recovery
Last year I blogged about Dr. Barb Orlowski’s research on spiritual abuse. Barb contacted me during a time when I was going through a very difficult period in my own life, and she was very helpful to me in both her active listening and in her own decision to contact the District church leaders that she knew personally to act on our behalf. Her intervention resulted in an investigation that dealt with the abusive situation. While the cause of the abuse was ultimately removed, I had to privately go through my own grief and deep sorrow. I was raised as a preacher’s kid and had always seen the church as a place of safety. As a result of the spiritual abuse, the idea of the church as a safe place was no longer that same place of safety to me. Time does a great job of helping us heal, but I am not yet sure when I will come full circle and be back to where I started. Spiritual abuse is that devastating. I have never made any of the details public although I am currently working on a DVD project that is a result of the things I have learned as a direct result of the abusive situation I endured. God certainly is able to work all things out for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. What seemed like evil to us can and will be used for good by God who holds us in His hands.
I personally spent 16 years helping others who had been abused in various cults, mostly dealing with the hurt of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had lost family relationships as a result of their exiting the Watchtower organization. I was a witness to their struggle with unlearning the cult doctrine and relearning the basics of Christianity to enable them to experience a real relationship with Christ. However, I had never experienced spiritual abuse myself. I can now say from personal experience that spiritual abuse is devastating both physically and emotionally. I know many who have experienced spiritual abuse and then find themselves suffering from spiritual devastation as well. Last year I was completely covered with red welts from the stress of the situation and the diagnosis for me was that the welts would be a permanent affliction. It was really hard to think that the stress of the spiritual abuse would cause me permanent suffering. However, praise God that He knows how to heal and after months of suffering I was given a medication that helped with the symptoms, and I no longer have any marks on my body from what I went through.
The issue of spiritual abuse has come up once again as Barb Orlowski recently contacted me. Barb told me that her book on this subject called “Spiritual Abuse Recovery Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness” is complete and can be obtained through her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I understand that she has access to the sale of these books right now if anyone contacts her directly. Barb’s website is churchexiters.com and people can also request an autographed copy from Barb. Below is a description of Barb’s book and the endorsements that she has received:
What factors contribute to active Christians in ministry leaving their church and becoming exiting statistics? Every year dedicated Christian people leave churches because of spiritual abuse. The stories of people who left their home church because of a negative and hurtful experience paint a picture of a widespread occurrence which beckons consideration by church leaders and church congregants alike.
Spiritual abuse, the misuse of spiritual authority to maltreat followers in the Christian Church, is a complex issue. This book shows how people processed their grief after experiencing spiritual abuse in their local church and how they rediscovered spiritual harmony. Their spiritual journey shows how one may grow through this devastating experience.
This book offers a thoughtful look at the topic of spiritual recovery from clergy abuse through the eyes of those who have experienced it. It invites church leaders to consider this very real dysfunction in the Church today and aims to demonstrate a path forward to greater freedom in Christ after a season of disillusionment with church leadership.
Endorsements for Back Cover
“In an age of increasing calls for strong church leadership, this book is a gift to church leaders and those who have been severely hurt and abused in our churches. Through careful research and an insider’s perspective, Barb has opened up both pathways for healing from church abuse and insights for leadership to ensure that potential future abuse is stopped.”
—Alan Jamieson, author of A Churchless Faith
“What we refer to as spiritual abuse was a concern for Jesus in his earthly ministry and it is a common problem today. It is, therefore, surprising that more attention is not given to it by today’s Christian community. Barb Orlowski, however, does take it seriously as she offers insight into the causes of bad church experiences and how to recover from them. Her counsel alerts people to the dangers ofspiritual abuse, and if leaders hear her, they will be less likely to become part of the problem . . . I encourage you to read it.”
—Ken Blue, author of Healing Spiritual Abuse
“Dr. Orlowski’s research has provided a balance for various perspectives on the experience of woundedness. She listens to the voices of the wounded and lets them inform us of their reality of feeling disappointment and disenfranchisement, tragedy and turbulence in the Church . . . For recovery, Dr. Orlowski gives an excellent starting point—the voice of the wounded—and follows that with the grace of God demonstrated through hearing the voice of God and basing recovery on the Word of God.”
—Kirk E. Farnsworth, author of Wounded Workers