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Recovering From Religious Abuse

Posted: 02/01/11 10:10 AM ET

You've probably heard it said that Christianity is the only army that shoots its wounded. Like most aphorisms, this statement is right on target. Millions have experienced religious abuse -- whether it's a well-publicized event like what happened to Elizabeth Smart or to Catholic Altar boys molested by pedophile priests -- but it's most common in Christian churches and para-church organizations, which are run by ambitious leaders. When the leader has a narcissistic streak, which is frequent, religious abuse is always present.

That's why Recovering from Religious Abuse has just been released by Simon & Schuster. Until now, there has been nothing that addresses the problem, while also offering a solution that helps the victims. Using an 11-step method, wounded Christians -- those who have been used, abused, and discarded by self-righteous religious leaders -- can reconnect with God in a healing, transforming way.

After being victimized, most wounded people lead half-lives, consumed with anger, bitterness, shame, and pain. They question whether the best years of their lives have already passed, hoping they haven't but suspecting that they have. They are prone to depression and acting-out behavior, which includes over eating, over spending, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography and promiscuity.

Because such leaders call into question a person's relationship with God, this kind of abuse is particularly devastating emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Such malicious castigation, which is internalized by the abused person as true, crushes the spirit of the recipient, and they retreat from the life they were living to follow the script of their destruction -- becoming a self-imposed prophecy.

Recovering from Religious Abuse shows how the dynamics of abuse works but, more importantly, it details a method for the abused person to identify what has happened, while providing a way for them to recover fully. For those who have been victimized, the key is to recognize that God still loves them just as much as ever and that they can once again experience love, joy, kindness and serenity -- not just occasionally but routinely.

If this has been your experience and you want to reconnect with God in a positive, meaningful way, you can. In a very short time -- just ninety-one days -- you can become stronger than you ever imagined possible, divesting yourself of the crippling chains that have imprisoned you since your abusive experience.

Religious abuse occurs frequently and can happen to anyone -- regardless of gender, religious affiliation, or time of life. Most abuse is inadvertent -- not intended to inflict permanent damage to a person. This is not the type of abuse dealt with in Recovering from Religious Abuse. Throughout the book, the focus is squarely placed upon those who misuse their positions of authority. Such leaders not only believe they have the right to do so but they also believe they are entitled to treat others as they do.

The consequences of their abusiveness are frequently catastrophic -- nearly as devastating as a parent telling a child that he or she is unloved and unwanted, which is a negative imprint that can last a lifetime, diminishing the recipient's self-worth. If unchecked, it can lessen a person's lifelong accomplishments. The same is true for those who are victimized by religious abuse.

It's particularly destructive because it either directly or indirectly implies that the person's relationship with God is flawed, making the abused person feel alienated from God. It diminishes that person's value, making them feel unworthy of God's love and care. Being estranged from God is like being estranged from a parent: no good can come from it.

If this has been your experience, if your life has changed from what it once was -- from what you thought it would be, Recovering from Religious Abuse can help you. If your negative experience has filled you with self-pity, if you experience little fulfillment, if you are grinding out your days in mediocrity -- with little love, meaning, or joy in your life, Recovering from Religious Abuse can help you regain what you've lost.

This recovery program has been created for disenfranchised Christians, lapsed Catholics, and those in recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, ALANON, Overeaters Anonymous, and sex and love addiction. It's specifically for wounded, hurting people who want more from life; it's for those who want real fulfillment. The simple 11-Step program, upon which Recovering from Religious Abuse is based, can help you recover from any type of abuse -- including spousal abuse -- but it's primarily targeted for those who have experienced religious abuse.

It's rare for church leaders to give more than lip service to the issue of religious abuse, except for pedophile priests. Most routinely dismiss it as a minor problem. If you're one of the walking wounded, however, you've felt the pain, experienced the shame, and tasted the betrayal. You understand the significance of the problem. Once you've experienced it, you never forget what it feels like. The pain eventually diminishes, but the scars never heal -- not completely. They leave you unable to interact spontaneously, as you once did.

If this has been your experience, there's hope for you. You can have a quality of life you thought was lost forever. Take some time each day for the next three months -- just ninety-one days. Reconnect with God in a rich, healing way -- a way that will restore purpose and meaning to your life. If you do, you will smile at the future once again, knowing that God is leading you each step of the way.

This program is simple, but it's not easy. It's hard work, requiring soul-searching honesty. If you're diligent, however, you'll regain your vision and purpose. Although abusiveness may have robbed you of your joy, God wants to restore all that you have lost, enriching your life in the process. Remember, it wasn't God who abused you. He is the solution to your restoration -- not the cause of it, which is clearly spelled out in Recovering from Religious Abuse.