Guest Author - Jeanette Stingley
There are actually a few abuses defined as Spiritual Abuse. For this article, we are going to consider spiritual abuse in a marriage/intimate partner situation.
Usually spiritual abuse is a small part of the abuse that is happening in the home. Spiritual abuse is usually about control and having power over you or your children and goes beyond not being able to agree upon which church you are going to attend or what faith you will raise your children in if you ever have children.
What is Spiritual Abuse?
Here are some questions to answer if you think you are being spiritually abused by a spouse or partner.
- Is he or she using the spouse’s or intimate partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them?
- Is he or she preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs?
- Are you ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs?
- Is he or she forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to?
Abusers will also:
- Abusers cite scripture to justify abusive, dominating or oppressive behavior.
- Abusers deny their partners the freedom to practice the religion of their choice.
- Abusers force their partners to violate their religious beliefs.
- Abusers shame or belittle their partners for their religious practices.
- Abusers make oppressive demands based on their interpretation of scriptures or other religious teachings (e.g., “the scriptures say that you need to obey me because you are my wife”).
- Abusers instill religious guilt in victims for not doing what they want them to do (e.g., “How can you call yourself religious if you don’t forgive me?”).
- Abusers’ sense of marital entitlement causes them to justify their sexual demands, including forced sex (i.e., marital rape).
- Abusers involve or force children to witness ritual abuse (e.g., sacrificing pets).
- Abusers manipulate others in their religious communities to control and ostracize their partners.
I have talked to many women who claim this is the only abuse they are going through and they ask me "should I leave him over something as small as this?" This is a good question and only you as a victim can answer. If this is the only abuse you are experiencing, how is it making you feel? Can you live the rest of your life with a person doing this to you? Can you compromise? Can the subject be avoided? If you are asking if you should leave, just asking is showing me that you are considering it. I am very set in my religious views and religious ways. I would not change for anyone and would not expect anyone to change their views for me but I would not put up with anyone treating me in any way mentioned above because of the way I see God.