Two-thirds of respondents to an online survey say that they have been spiritually abused, a study has revealed.
Academics from Bournemouth University, who carried out the survey on behalf of the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), a safeguarding charity, received 1591 responses from Christians, 1002 of whom said that they had personally experienced spiritual abuse.
Caution has been expressed about the figures in the survey, whose results form part of the report Understanding Spiritual Abuse in Christian Communities, published on Sunday. A co-author, Justin Humphreys, executive director of safeguarding at CCPAS, said: “Yes, the results are significant, as [being spiritually abused] was not a prerequisite for participation. Having said this, in some ways it is not surprising, as many will have taken this as an opportunity to share their story in anonymous form, possibly for the first time.”
The study also acknowledges that definitions of spiritual abuse are not clear cut, and suggests this lack of clarity may be a significant barrier to responding appropriately to its victims within the Church.
“Existing work around this experience (which is characterised by a systematic pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour in a religious context) is still in its infancy, to the extent that there is not currently universal agreement about this as a term,” it says. (Read more from “2/3 of Christians Say They’ve Been Spiritually Abused” HERE)