The Significance of January

healing work religious trauma spiritual abuse

I'm not sure who came up with this...but it's true. January has officially been dubbed, "Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month."

I first heard the term spiritual abuse from my therapist, right after giving birth to my fifth child. (Fun fact: this was the same therapist who told me I probably shouldn't have had five kids--a little too late!) After hearing my story, she said, "You were spiritually abused."

At the time, I didn't really know what that meant. But when she said it, chills went up my spine and I knew it was true. It explained so much about my struggles with religion and the difficulty I had with feeling like I was worthy. Because spiritual abuse strikes at the core of who you are. It destroys your relationship with deity by sending the message that you're not good enough for God--the very being who created you.

So, what exactly is spiritual abuse?

Spiritual abuse is any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs. It's a form of psychological and emotional manipulation and can happen while practicing religion or as a consequence of leaving. If spirituality or religion has been used in a way that scares, harms, manipulates, or controls you, you may be a survivor of spiritual abuse.

Religious trauma is the ongoing effect that spiritual abuse can have on a person. So, if you were abused in a religious setting and it caused ongoing trauma, religious trauma is probably what you are dealing with today.

Spiritual abuse is not talked about very often because it makes people uncomfortable--kind of like sexual abuse. It takes something that's supposed to be good and beautiful and uplifting--and turns it into something degrading and ugly. No one wants to see the ugly side of religion. But that doesn't make it any less real. Also, the research on this topic is in its infancy, so many survivors find it difficult to get the help they need to recover. This is such an important topic--but most people know nothing about it. In fact, many people have never even heard of it. 

Recently, I was interviewed for the Profound Awesomeness Podcast (you should definitely go listen to it! here's the link: Profound Awesomeness Podcast with Sandra Jarvis). I mentioned spiritual abuse during the interview, and the host had never heard the term. I didn't do a great job of describing what it is during that interview, mostly because it caught me off-guard that he didn't know what it was. It was a great reminder for me that despite the fact that spiritual abuse has had a profound influence on my life, it is still not recognized by the general public.

So, in honor of Spiritual Abuse Awareness Month, I'm going to share some thoughts about my journey with spiritual abuse and religious trauma. I'll also be participating in the A-Z of Trauma Recovery project led by @erinhung_studio  on my Instagram and Facebook pages, but I'll be putting a religious spin on all of my posts. Follow me @sandrajarviscoaching to learn more. 

If you are a survivor of spiritual abuse, please know that there is hope and healing available. I'm living proof that you can overcome the trauma of your past and become the woman you were always meant to be. If you're interested in learning more about how coaching can help, schedule a Self-Love Assessment Call with me so we can look at what is keeping you stuck in victim mentality and how to move you into the thriving zone. Here's the link: SCHEDULE A COMPLIMENTARY CALL. I'd love to meet you and hear your story.

I'd also love to have you join us in the Silence Your Inner Mean Girl Facebook Group, specifically for women who have left the LDS religion and are working toward healing from religious harm. Join the group HERE.

 Thanks for following along on my bjlogging journey! Have a rainbow day!

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