By Rick Thomas
Spiritual abuse is a broad category in that it can encompass many different kinds of relationships, contexts, and situations. Wherever there is a two-tiered system of leaders and followers, spiritual abuse can happen.
Any place where a person chooses to dominate, manipulate, or seek to control someone else is a context for spiritual abuse. I regularly see spiritual abuse in marriage counseling, where one spouse is creating havoc in the other spouse’s life.
I think most people would equate spiritual abuse as something that happens in a local church or within a denominational setting. When Peter wrote about spiritual abuse, he most certainly had the local church in mind.
Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:3 (ESV)
The word spiritual speaks to the type and the location of the abuse–it is spiritual in nature and it happens inside of a person. Spiritual abuse is different from physically beating someone or bringing other forms of physical harm to a person. Though physical harm will affect you spiritually, the idea behind spiritual abuse is its internal effect.
- It’s spiritual.
- It’s soul related.
- It affects a person’s inner being.
This article is about how a person can be abused spiritually within an organizational setting, even when there is no physical danger. These kinds of mental mind games happen more than you may realize.