The effect of spiritual guides and religious figures throughout history has been so strong, even now it’s considered taboo to talk against the members of the clergy. Being God’s servants, the priests have gotten a special treatment and people often forget that they are common people just like them, with flaws, fears and temptations. And many people who are given some kind of power tend to abuse it, clergy not being the exception. This is why spiritual abuse is so common. The only reason people don’t know much about it is the aforementioned taboo. Many victims of spiritual abuse who revealed their terrible experiences were criticized and even cast out by their community members for talking bad about the clergy. Protected with the taboo, the priests are free to do whatever they want, and it’s up to their conscience to do it or not.
Spiritual abuse represents some form of abuse from a religious authority, usually the member of the clergy, but also spiritual guides, cult leaders and so on. The main concept is that they serve as some kind of link to God and abuse this connection to claim that their words and actions come straight from God, gaining power to do whatever they like without anyone opposing them.
Most common type of spiritual abuse is emotional and psychological abuse, and it can appear in many forms. Sometimes the priests manipulate the believers by imposing feelings of guilt and shame and making them feel less valuable because of their apparent sins. They dominate using arrogance or psychological blackmail, and whoever gets the strength to confront them gets accused of confronting God himself and his word, so they risk being cast out of the community.
Watch out for spiritual leaders who use fear or shame as their weapon. A real priest is humble and loving, not judging and arrogant. Abusing priests also tend to form tight close circles of people who are in their favor, and everyone else outside of the circle is less important. To a true priest, every lamb of God should be treated equally.
Pay attention to the way the priest is living. If they indulge in too much extravagant pleasures, it might mean they’re not sincere in their intentions. Someone asking for donations out of the people while living in luxury isn’t the kind of spiritual leader you need.
If you have been the victim of spiritual abuse, it’s important not to be quiet about it. No matter how hard it might be to talk about it, it’s a necessary step towards dealing with it and continuing with your normal life. Remember that your testimony can help save others from the spiritual abuser, so find the strength within you to tell what they did. Talking with the therapist or joining online support groups where you can talk about your experience anonymously is also very helpful. It takes courage and patience, but you can recover.