Faith and abuse

Our Monday night online peer support group is for survivors whose faith plays a significant role in their survivor journey. It might be because we were abused in a faith setting. Or perhaps it was familial or domestic abuse, and the response of our faith community when we disclosed was unhelpful or re-abusive. We try to create a safer space where we can explore the impact abuse, and the responses of faith communities, have on our faith; and the impact our faith has on our healing journey.

Some of us still have a strong faith, some of us have lost our faith, and some are holding on with our fingertips. Whatever state our spiritual life is in, we find it helpful to explore spiritual themes that can be challenging for survivors, like forgiveness, healing ministry and justice. We also share spiritual practices and beliefs that we find helpful; perhaps surprisingly, while abuse by faith leaders can lead to a spiritual shattering, spiritual development is one of the features of post-traumatic growth.

Some of us have gone through the process of reporting faith-based abuse to church authorities, and the group has been an important place to weep and rage together, and encourage and support each other. This led to us writing an open letter to churches, which invited church members to:

Listen to survivors, our uncomfortable truths; create a safe space where healing can start through having a voice.

The letter contains suggestions for how to respond well to survivors in a faith context, whether you are a faith leader or a member of the faith community. We invite you to download, read and respond.

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