Spiritual Abuse and Cult Recovery

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and‎ Jeff VanVonderen

In a breakthrough book first published in 1991, the authors address the dynamics in churches that can ensnare people in legalism, guilt, and begrudging service, keeping them from the grace and joy of God’s kingdom.Written for both those who feel abused and those who may be causing it, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse shows how people get hooked into abusive systems, the impact of controlling leadership on a congregation, and how the abused believer can find rest and recovery.



cult recovery spiritual abuse

Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working With Former Members and Families edited by Lorna Goldberg, William Goldberg, Rosanne Henry, Michael Langone

This landmark, 500-page book, with chapters from leading clinicians and researchers, describes the current state of the art in helping people adversely affected by a cultic dynamic, whether in a cult, mainstream religious denomination, psychotherapy, family, or other interpersonal relationship. The regular price is $79 plus postage. Discounts are available – see options below.

People are different, and different people will respond to the same environment in different ways. That is why the first clinical rule in working with former cult members and families is to remain flexible and not rigidly adhere to a clinical ideology. The chapters in this book reflect this attitude of openness, while describing how different experts approach the kinds of problems that might confront therapists working with former cult members and those with affected loved ones.

Note: This book isn’t available on Amazon but you can find it and other helpful resources at the International Cultic Studies Association.

spiritual abuse recovery from cultsRecovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse by Michael D. Langone

Drawing upon the clinical expertise of professionals and the personal experiences of those formerly involved in high-intensity mind-control groups, this book is a comprehensive guide to the cult experience.

Michael Langone and his colleagues provide practical guidelines for helping former cult members manage the problems they encounter when leaving cults.




If you’re reading CCMC for the first time, please know that you’ve found a safe, respectful, compassionate place. This book can help you protect-or regain-your sanity, freedom, and health. It can also help you protect others from the use of mind-control techniques. In this 25th anniversary volume you’ll find: • New stories of people who fell under the sway of cults and other forms of undue influence but who were able to break free. • New information on the many sophisticated ways social media are now used for mind control. • Updates on the many types of organizations that use mind control • Information on the neuroscience behind mind control. • A look at what legislators, courts, mental health professionals, and ordinary citizens can do to resist mind control and make our world a safer place.


soul repair spiritual abuse

Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life by Jeff VanVonderen,‎ Dale Ryan, and‎ Juanita Ryan

Do you fear that God is angry with you? Do you wonder if God is really for you? if God really loves you? Deep down many of us believe that we are not good enough, and never will be good enough, to have a meaningful relationship with God. This is because we have been spiritually trained in ways that have left us with distorted and inadequate spiritualities of four different kinds: abusive, anorexic, addictive & codependent.

And we are left with a toxic combination of fear and shame. We may try to get it right. We may try to control ourselves and others. We may try to please God and to earn God’s love. After a while we find ourselves exhausted and discouraged, and we may feel even more alienated from God. Jeff VanVonderen, Dale Ryan and Juanita Ryan understand this problem because they have been there both personally and professionally. And they are prepared to help you rebuild your spiritual life. If you find yourself living out a burdensome and unfulfilling spirituality, this book is for you. If you are longing to have a relationship with God that works, this book can show you the way.

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment by Janet Heimlich

This revealing, disturbing, and thoroughly researched book exposes a dark side of faith that most Americans do not know exists or have ignored for a long time—religious child maltreatment. After speaking with dozens of victims, perpetrators, and experts, and reviewing a myriad of court cases and studies, the author explains how religious child maltreatment happens. She then takes an in-depth look at the many forms of child maltreatment found in religious contexts, including biblically-prescribed corporal punishment and beliefs about the necessity of “breaking the wills” of children; scaring kids into faith and other types of emotional maltreatment such as spurning, isolating, and withholding love; pedophilic abuse by religious authorities and the failure of religious organizations to support the victims and punish the perpetrators; and religiously-motivated medical neglect in cases of serious health problems.

When God Becomes a Drug: Book 1; Understanding Religious addiction & religious abuse by Leo Booth

Religious addiction, like alcohol addiction, is a dysfunction that can be treated. In this book, Father Leo adapts the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to the particular problems of this dysfunctional behavior, and offers a step-by-step program of exercises and affirmations that help turn religious addiction into a healthy relationship with God.




Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religionby Marlene Winell 

This book by psychologist Marlene Winell provides valuable insights into the dangers of religious indoctrination and outlines what therapists and victims can do to reclaim a healthier human spirit…. Both former believers searching for a new beginning and those just starting to subject their faith to the requirements of simple common sense, if not analytical reason, may find valuable assistance in these pages. -Steve Allen, author and entertainer




spiritual abuse recovering from religious abuse

Jack Watts’ startling personal story of being victimized by religious abuse and then sinking into alcoholism and self-destructive behaviors will resonate strongly with the many thousands of those who have been disenfranchised or even crushed by institutionalized religion. Recovering from Religious Abuse will help these walking wounded discover how to come to terms with their past as they heal from the inside out.





spiritual abuse healing the soul after religious abuseHealing the Soul after Religious Abuse: The Dark Heaven of Recovery (Religion, Health, and Healing) by Mikele Rauch  

Recent scandals of clergy sexual abuse have brought attention to the victims and their responses to and recovery from their abuse. But few have considered the effect of the abuse on a victim’s soul and religious outlook and beliefs. Healing the Soul after Religious Abuse, offers a unique perspective of recovery and restoration of the soul after religious abuse. The author argues that religious abuse often stops not only psychological growth, but also inward development. The effect is not simply emotional, because the devastation reaches to the core of the spirit. Often there is no place for a God of love or a love of what once was divine. Through a series of personal interviews with persons from the five major religions, Rauch considers various ways that religion can do harm.

The stories told in this book include the road to restoration in the wake of institutional abuse and how inner experience is sometimes confused with religious training; the sacred task of spiritual leadership and how to restore trust when there has been a violation; an exploration of sacrifice and a clarification of the notion of shame; a look at the impact of religious bigotry in the areas of race, sexuality, and tolerance; an overview of sexuality and the place it holds in both celibate and family life; the pernicious issue of clergy sexual abuse and the signs of spiritual trauma in response to such violation; a roadmap for restoration and a challenge to religious institutions; and, lastly, ways to reclaim the sacred and rewire the spirit. Through interviews, research, and personal stories, the author tells a story of recovery of the most delicate kind, offering pathways through the dark night of religious violation to a restoration of the soul and its immense possibilities.

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