Support for Victims of Spiritual Abuse
The longing of the soul to return home – how deep it is. This search for happiness, for peace, lies at the heart of being human. This longing took me on a journey all over the world, including thirteen years in a community of spiritual seekers with a charismatic leader who seemed able to deliver that pearl of great price – divine love, bliss, understanding, freedom! Seemed is the keyword here. He also seemed worthy of trust. How the soul grieves when trust proves itself misplaced.
Spiritual transgression is the abuse of a person’s spirituality, the abuse of a person’s heart, the source of the delicate longing for the Divine. Spiritual abuse often occurs very subtly. There are spiritual leaders who mean well, but unfortunately continue to perpetuate the abuse that they themselves have received.
I have my own story to tell of the complex dynamics that occur within the relationship of a student and his spiritual mentor. I was part of a new religious movement for 14 years and a close attendant to the leader. It took me 14 years to get over the abuse I received. Whether the violation takes place in a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or unaffiliated setting makes no difference. The dynamics are the same – an abuse of power by an inspiring, charismatic leader – manipulation, control over people’s lives. When the leader has a narcissistic streak, which is often the case, then abuse is never far away. It is unfortunate that spiritual abuse is an every day reality for many people in almost every religious affiliation. In the last twenty or thirty years, the example of fallen gurus or priests are too numerous to cite.
Victims of spiritual abuse often feel ashamed, manipulated, intimidated and humiliated. The effects of spiritual abuse can be harrowing, as are other relational abuses. It leads to a lack of self-respect, grief, low self- esteem, anxiety, depression, despair, even suicidal thoughts, as well as cynicism, rage and a damaged relationship with the Divine. Victims will have placed a high degree of trust in their spiritual leaders. And when that trust is violated, the wound is deep.
The long-term damage of spiritual abuse should not be minimised. Coming to terms with what has happened can take years. Once trust in life and in the divine is re-established you can be sure you are well on your way, and you can be very proud of yourself for the journey you are in the process of completing.
“Harry became a wonderful mentor to me and helped me navigate some fairly turbulent inner territory. When it comes to the spiritual path, there is not much Harry hasn’t seen or done, he really knows his stuff and is full of wisdom and support to help you find your way. With Harry’s help, I have learned how to find peace, even when everything around me is the opposite and most importantly I have learnt the art of discrimination, which enables me to practically understand who I really am, which is whole and complete!” Amelia Griffiths
“I am somebody who seems outwardly very confident and I have also been very successful [and] have a full and active social life and a budding creative life. However due to having been involved in the past on a spiritual path with a spiritual teacher for many years that unfortunately turned out to be “corrupt” I have been plagued with depression and stress symptoms that caused my GP to suggest that I need anti-depressants. I was seriously considering it until I found out about Harry’s work and thought I might as well try a session (not being sure it could even help me as I felt like a hopeless case). After just one session with Harry (by Skype) I felt like my whole life experience changed. Now, several weeks later, I feel like I am reframing my past experience and I am able to reframe my current experience also. My life is radiating light and positivity again. I see things very differently for the better. The much better. I thoroughly recommend Harry for counselling and Somatic therapy. He is kind, thoughtful, sensitive, caring and deeply trustworthy. He has been through a big spiritual challenge in his life too which I think makes him the best person to help others in a similar position.” Irene Henderson