What Is Spiritual Abuse?
Spiritual Abuse is a type of abuse used within a religious context to manipulate an individual or group of people to do what the abuser wishes. In this case, we will show how predators often use spiritual abuse in their child sexual abuse grooming process.
Do All Clergy Acknowledge The Existence Of Spiritual Abuse By Colleagues And/Or Members Of Their Faith Communities?
Some clergy may say that what we have defined as spiritual abuse is actually sin which is resolved by repentance. Spiritual abuse is deliberate and clear manipulation. For example, if a man of God who is in leadership tells his congregation to mortgage their homes to help “build the kingdom”, and this request was not an act of obedience led by the direction of what they heard clearly from God as a direction, it is a choice that the leader made “in the name of God”, and is spiritual abuse. The leader is abusing their authority and powers to achieve personal-professional success. Keep reading – I want to show you how spiritual abuse is also used by predators seeking to sexually abuse children.
What Type Of Scriptures Do Ministry Leaders Use To Manipulate Or Gain A Child’s Trust?
In the blog, “Why Child Sexual Abuse Should Become A Felony,” we hear Jason Kidd’s account of his best friend of thirty years, who is also a minister who, groomed Jason Kidd’s teenaged daughter for sexual abuse. Of the six to seven hundred pages of text messages recovered, they discovered that he would always begin the conversation talking about God and “checking-in” on her virtue as a young woman of God. These scriptural references would stem from those likened to Proverbs 31 where a wife is talked about in detail.
In another example, I have other stories on my blog like a woman from Hawaii whose step father was the brother of a famous evangelist who traveled with Billy Graham. The perpetrator spoke godly until sexual abuse took place. Sometimes, what I call, “in the name of God” quotes would replace actual scripture. It may come out as, “God wants you to”, or “You would make God happy if you”.
Sometimes the words in scripture are used verbatim and other times the words perpetrators use are deliberately inaccurate, wrong interpretations. Also, when speaking about spiritual abuse, perpetrators are using what they believe in. I have not personally ran across any statistics or stories of perpetrators who use Satanism but they are Christian, quoting a Muslim if they are a Scientologist with the purpose of manipulating and confusing a child. It is usually someone well versed in their religious faith doctrine that will misuse it for self gain.
Either way, when God’s name is used to groom a child for sexual abuse it creates a false sense of responsibility and conviction with the child. They even if confused, are often trusting and believing the leader as giving truth. It causes religious indoctrination and brainwashing.
Scripture and spiritual abuse or manipulation is not new. It is used in many ways. I remember when I first learned that you should not pray with everyone, especially when dating someone. Often the motives of the person do not reveal themselves initially. They could be praying with you to gain your trust and break down your inhibitions so that you will cave in and sleep with them. This is a whole other topic that I will write about later to offer relationship tips to singles who are dating for marriage.
What Is Child Sexual Abuse Grooming?
As of now I, Ressurrection Graves a relationship mentor and coach, author and speaker who offers child sexual abuse education has created this term to bridge the gap between what the law identifies as child grooming and #CSAG or Child Sexual Abuse Grooming. Child Grooming is a legal term used in the child trafficking industry. Currently there are no provisions under the law which state that child grooming can be charged to someone who has directly committed grooming for sexual abuse.
The term Child Sexual Abuse Grooming could not be found when googled or researched and there is no law in place directly concerning grooming for child sexual abuse. CSAG which is also used as a hash tag #CSAG for our organization is when a child is groomed for sexual abuse. This process often takes months or even years and can also last for months or years depending on the perpetrator and their access to the child.
For this reason we came up with Make Child Sexual Abuse A Felony, a petition hosted on the website change.org so that the actions that molesters take before committing the sexual act, can also be punishable in a court of law because it is equally damaging to be psychologically prepped for abuse.
Oprah teamed up with Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Weiner to share the six stages of grooming on her website. There are different models, and stages that people have come up with. What I believe is important to share here, is that the grooming process is designed and only successful when the child is willing to engage, in secret the sexual relationship.
To use Eddie Long as an example, he may have waited until the boys were eighteen before he did or said anything that may have been inappropriate. The fact is, he groomed the children to trust and believe in him, not God. He took these boys on trips wined, and dined them offering them a life that they would have never known without his generosity. The problem was not the children accepting gifts, it was the parents not noticing ill-intention (if parents were present), and it was Eddie Long whose muscle t-shirts and awkward toupee did not seem to give himself away. Eddie Long never apologized, instead he called his daddy in the faith T.D. Jakes to come and speak over him as the “SpellBreaker” in the church which only reintroduced the predator to his prey.
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He was never accountable, instead he called in a half-baked Rabbi whose son even spoke out in the media when he crowned Eddie Long “King”. Eddie Long paid for their silence which can be an equally disturbing idea. Then he went an opened a new church!
To those hearing the story in the media with an untrained eye and an unrealistic belief in the media’s ability to capture the truth, it may look like this is about money. Instead what I saw on the interviews were traumatized young men.
More than ever it is time to learn my Ten Ways To Safeguard Your Child From Sexual Abuse.
How Can You Tell If A Child Is Being Groomed Spiritually?
Dr. Michael Weiner’s Six Stages are:
- Targeting The Victim
- Gaining The Victim’s Trust
- Filling A Need
- Isolating The Child
- Sexualizing The Relationship
- Maintaining Control
Here are a few ways that I have come up with to help you identify if someone who you know is being abused spiritually:
- Pay attention to the subject matter of conversation that adults are having with your child. Is it self-seeking? Are they using words that are aimed to win them over?
- Does the person pay your child(ren) “special attention”? In many instances, this may not be a red flag however predators are unable to leave children alone, especially when they have found a specific child to pursue.
Think for a moment. When a man is speaking to guy friends on the phone, you can usually tell. When he speaks to a woman that he is interested in or involved with, his tone is softer, higher and he usually tries to convey his messages differently than when talking amongst men.
Not that it is comfortable to make any kind of comparisons however, keep in mind that you will notice a different kind of attention or conversation given to a child that a predator is seeking to pursue. It may not be softer or higher in pitch but your gut will reveal to you anything that is cause for alarm.
- Is the predator trying to fill a void? Are they asking your child inappropriate questions that will put them alone with your child? Are they asking when you’ll be gone so that they can ask you to babysit?
The person may insist on babysitting even if you have other means. If you cannot do something for the child they may jump to be involved and it will be awkward or seem out of position (if you notice) especially if this person is an acquaintance, someone you’re dating, a coach or other individual who is not a stranger.
This particular example is not exclusive to spiritual abuse. They key word for today is manipulation. Watch how others around you may try to manipulate you, or even your children in small ways. There are plenty of people who are not SEXUAL predators that manipulate others. However there are many predators out there and the one thing that they all have in common is manipulation.
- As a ministry leader, do you notice that they manipulate others in their conversations and in deed. Are you questioning their relationship with other children?
I have researched articles that discuss “spiritual abuse recovery” and “child sexual abuse.” My particular focus is to concentrate on how spiritual abuse is used to groom children for sexual abuse. Although I am a Christian and may make mention of Christian type themes or titles, spiritual abuse or religious abuse is real in all religions.
As a matter of professional speaking, I offer this teaching. I share the doctrinal beliefs of various religions including christianity based on research. We identify how spiritual abuse is used in various religions particularly to groom children for sexual abuse.
For ministry leaders, and we have already used Eddie Long as an example, their is a lot of trust put into leadership. For years, people have allowed there children to hang out with people because they know them through the church. They are able to be alone with the ministry leadership because they are men and women of God. We must take the same precautions for our children as if we thought they to be in harm’s way. We do not have to assume that all people are bad but we do need to care if our children are spending alone time with adults who we know little about. Their faith in God may be used to harm your child.
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Remember, you should be your child’s best friend (assuming that you are not the perpetrator). They must be able to communicate with you, and trust you with anything. You may not know right away but they may share with you in time so that you can stop it before abuse worsens. Better yet, by choosing to be your child’s best friend, you will learn things about how they respond in doubt, fear, expectation, manipulation, and confusion. By developing a close relationship with your child, you may stop the abuse before it starts by recognizing that your child is being groomed for sexual abuse.
I am available for your questions in the comments section. Please feel free to ask a question or two, or leave your thoughts about the article and/or subject.
Ressurrection Graves is an author, speaker and relationship mentor. She is available for speaking engagements on topics surrounding healing, prevention and awareness of child sexual abuse. For singles, she offers Seven Steps To Dating For Marriage. Check out the Rules Of Engagement for some biblical thoughts about healthy dating relationships. Contact Ressurrection at: 202.717.7377 or ressurrection dot wordpress at yahoo dot com.