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Symptoms of Spiritual Abuse

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It can be difficult to recognize spiritual abuse because you often don’t realize that it's happening. One sign of possible spiritual abuse is a change of personality in a negative direction. Many abusive situations will undermine and devalue family relationships of the members to exploit them and increase control over them in the group. They will emphasize church loyalty to the exclusion of family loyalty. 


Symptoms of Spiritual Abuse

I. How Do We Recognize Spiritual Abuse?

A. Do you hate church but are afraid to say so?

B. Do you feel guilty if you miss a service?

C. Do you find yourself giving time and money to the church to get God's blessing?

D. Do you find yourself thinking that God is waiting for you to sin?

E. Will I be punished if I make a mistake?

F. Do I need to work harder so God will forgive me?

II. Questions Adapted from Robert Enroth

A. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.

B. Does your personality generally become stronger, happier, more confident as a result of spending time with the group?

C. Do members of the group seek to strengthen their family commitments?

D. Does the group encourage independent thinking and the development of discernment skills?

E. Does the group allow for individual differences of belief or behavior particularly on issues of secondary importance?

F. Does the group's leadership invite dialogue, advice and evaluation from outside the immediate church?

G. Does the group allow for development in theological beliefs?

H. Are group members encouraged to ask hard questions of any kind?

I. Do members appreciate truth even if it's found outside their group?

J. Is the group honest with non-members especially with those who they are trying to win to the group?

K. Does the group foster relationships and connections with the larger society that are more than self-serving?

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