How familiar are you with the topic of Spiritual Abuse, Emotional Abandonment and Child Abuse? I often have heard that child abuse is Spiritual Abuse and while managing to *see how having an adult caregiver is cold and distant can impact a child’s relationship with God I wasn’t able to see beyond that.

Here is what I’ve come to learn: Emotional Abandonment or Neglect IS spiritually abusive because the child cannot grasp the concept of a Higher Power as being actively involved in their lives; One who genuinely cares since the caregiver rarely interacted with them in a caring way. Resulting- they either believe there is no Higher Power or don’t trust the Higher Power to support and help them.

Sometimes children are angry with or hate the family concept of a Higher Power for allowing the parent to abuse them. These children blame the Higher Power for failure to protect instead of blaming or feeling angry with the caregiver. Sometimes it is *easier to blame God rather than admitting that one’s own parents acted willfully abusive towards them.

Some parents demand that the children do or only believe exactly what the parents do and that anything else is unacceptable. The children may never go through that developmental process in which they learn to feel good about doing things their way. The ability to reason and utilize rational thinking may be impeded.

If this squelching of the children’s freedom to become unique individual selves is carried to the extreme, the children lose touch with any sense of what their own way is. They often lose their sense of who they are, what their own identity is. This gets carried into adulthood and often these ones feel disconnected and have no relationship with themselves, to their community and the world at large. They may feel life is pointless or has no meaning. Or they become controlling, demanding, abusive, or critical of others.

Some parents become addicted to religion in that it gets to the pint where the religious devotion takes away from other priorities including their own children, who need their, time, attention, direction and love. Therefore, these addicted parents end up abusing their own children through neglect.

Also, some religiously addicted parents use the concept of God to frighten and threaten the children. The children’s fear of God’s punishment forces them to do what the parents want them to do. The parents overcontrol the children and the children learn to be afraid of God. The children obey out of fear and coercion, not because they love their parents or love God and want to make them happy.

Other religious addicts avoid any real problem solving with their children by quoting scripture. Instead of providing structure for their children in the form of rules and information that their children can understand, scripture is quoted. Often without explaining in a way that means something at the children’s current level. Therefore, the children do not understand. This causes anxiety and the children feel emotionally neglected and lost. They often end up thinking there is something wrong with them.

Other parents demonstrate irresponsibility to children by turning everything over to God without doing any of the footwork. This means parents say or their body language says something like ‘I am walking away from the responsibility to fix this problem or mend this wound. He’ll fix this in the end.’ This is extremely damaging because the children get the message that they themselves are ‘not worth the effort.’

Also, children need to see what human responsibility looks like, what problem solving looks like, what working on a relationship looks like, and what accountability looks like. Children learn nothing about how to approach life’s problems with the above attitude. By ‘leaving this with God’ these types of parents are also using God as a scape goat for their own problems. it becomes an avoidance tactic that absolves the parents’ of the responsibility to work things out, to be accountable, to parent healthily.

This attitude provides children zero guidance and direction and instead, teaches how to live without accountability and remorse. Sometimes no conscience is developed in these children. They grow up experiencing extreme emotional anguish and frustration. They can grow up feeling anger and resentful towards God or a Higher Power.

There is also the damage that ensues when a child is abused by a religious person who is in any position of authority. This topic will be discussed at another time. So how can a child develop a healthy relationship with God or a Higher Power when the above happens?

Again, the above is another form of Abuse to a the child’s psyche, another emotional injury and impacts the child’s well-being. It is Abuse by Abandonment. Emotional Blackmail in some instances, therefore, Spiritual Abuse. There is hope though! Working with a certified Trauma Recovery Coach will support you through this minefield of pain and get to the other side of your healing journey. I’m here when you’re ready.

Lisa Hilton, CTRC-A, founder of Hilton Coaching & Consulting. I am a trauma coach; I educate, consult, and am a published author. I work with adult survivors of Childhood Trauma and those suffering from Complex PTSD so they can Transform their Travesty into Triumph, one step at a time.

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