Apendix: Issues in Recovery
Many themes and issues have emerged from these stories of people recovering from churches that abuse. These are often more implicit than explicit. Thinking through these issues in the following terms may be helpful to victims of abuse and those who seek to counsel them.
WHY PEOPLE ARE DRAWN INTO ABUSIVE GROUPS
- Emotional needs
- The attraction of authority
- False expectations
- The deception of positive impressions and ready acceptance
- Vulnerability through inexperience with a healthy Christian faith and community
- Dependency needs
FACTORS THAT MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO LEAVE AND RECOVER
- A system that fosters dependence
- Members not encouraged to think for themselves
- The community emphasized rather than the individual
- Emphasis on uniformity and conformity
- Social skills undeveloped
- “Set up” to fail: self-fulfilling prophecy
- Feelings of being” orphaned” and rejected
- Culture shock
- Nowhere to turn for faith, because other churches discredited
- Ill-equipped for relationships
- Isolation from society
- Estrangement from family
- Loss of focus and purpose in life
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- “Victimization” syndrome
- Lack of trust in authority and/or intimacy
- Insufficient resources (financial, emotional, relational)
- Feelings of anger and bitterness impeding forgiveness
- Network of friends within the membership
FACTORS THAT MAY RETARD OR INTERFERE WITH RECOVERY
- Feelings about oneself: self-esteem
- Economic instability
- Caution about entering another Christian community or church
- Need for re-socialization
- Marital and family conditions
- Need for professional counseling
- Being viewed with distrust or skepticism by other Christians
- Lack of self-discipline
- Spiritual paralysis
SOME FEELINGS TO CONTEND WITH
- Low self-esteem
- Shame and guilt
- Regret for lost years
- Loss of identity
- Fear and confusion
Farewell to Foundry
a poem about leaving j.p.u.s.a.
louder than words
sword into plowshear
back into sword.
Faith for kindling
and blacksmiths eat
the chimney smoke.
Iron against spirit
bones against steel
this anvil breaks
more than it heals.
Drench the furnace
forsake this boundary
the mold is smashed
farewell to foundry.
© 1994 by Jace K. Seavers. Used by permission. Seavers was a member of Jesus People USA for nearly ten years and wrote lyrics for REZ band. He wrote this previously unpublished poem in August 1991.
The full text of Recovering From Churches That Abuse has been placed online at Apologetics Index by permission from the book’s author, Dr. Ronald M. Enroth.
© Copyright 1992 by Ronald M. Enroth.
We ask that you respect this copyrighted work by linking to it instead of copying and pasting the text without permission.
Purchase Printed Version
Churches That Abuse – online book, also by Dr. Ronald Enroth
Research resources on abusive churches and spiritual abuse
Guidelines for selecting a counselor/cult expert