Spirituality is a source of comfort, guidance, meaning and purpose for many people. However, for many survivors of domestic violence, misguided religious messages can be used to justify abuse and coerce victims to submit and accept maltreatment, coercion, cruelty, neglect and/or violence.
Spiritual abuse is an insidious form of trauma and psychological manipulation that uses religious doctrine to control community members and keep them subjugated. When spiritually toxic environments intersect with domestic violence, often scripture is used to embolden abusers.
Often times, scripture that alludes to women being required by God to be submissive or “fulfill their wifely duties” is used to force victims – women especially – to submit to their abuser. Worse yet, many survivors who report their abuse to practicing family or community members, are often turned away and told to “pray, submit, and be a good wife.” This is a powerful form of victim blaming and makes leaving a domestically violent relationship that much more heartbreaking.