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Excellent post Dory.

Karen Campbell


Again an awesome article. I am going to link to it from my spiritual abuse have made so many great points.

Now, here is a question for you?

What if you are in a situation where you are tyring to leave an abusive church and do so honorably and they won't let you go? We know personally of such situations. In one instance, a family has been followed to 6 or 7 different churches by their elders trying to "warn" the church about this family, though they have been found to be members in good standing at their current church. We know another situation where a family was excommunicated AFTER they joined another church and the congregation was told to shun them. Then what? I hope to address some of this stuff soon.


Karen, What you describe are good examples of how viscious that attack against those leaving or complaining can be. I have seen a case in which the controlling person went to the victim's employer and potential employers and, as you say, 'warned' them with gossip and accusations against the man.

Often the controlling person is also able to convince others (who are not necessarily personality disordered) that these aggressive actions against people are right and good. Sometimes an entire session/church council is manipulated into carrying out the controller's aggressive adgenda, all the while thinking it was their own decision and necessary church discipline.

But when this group dynamic is going on, there is some possibility of making your case to those involved who are not personality disordered. They have the ability to empathize with you and at least consider your point of view. If you can get them alone and share what you are going through--what they are inflicting--you might be able to convince them to back off. I think it's still unlikely, though, that they would be willing to stand up to the aggressor and risk becoming a victim themselves.

I think it is also important to understand that much of this visciousness goes on behind closed doors. I was in a church for years in which this kind of thing was happening to people, but I didn't realize it. I knew people were leaving angry and upset--and I had been told the problems were due to their sins and dutifully made no contact with them--but I had no idea how badly they were being treated.

Jason Dollar

Thanks again for all 4 articles - so helpful.

Question: Would you say that most contollers tend be in smaller churches or larger churches and why?


Jason, I don't remember that question being answered in anything I have read. It certainly could be in either a large or a small church. I think anyone who meets this controlling profile would like to command an 'empire', but different people are more or less successful at achieving that. Probably some of the mega-church televangelists that have fallen into public sin and disgrace fall into this category. Yet one of the authors I have read says his personal experience with spiritual abuse was in a small para-church counseling group that became very cultish because of controlling leadership. But as far as statistics go, I can't remember reading anything that indicates it tends to be either small or large groups.


Dory and Jason:
Let me nose in on your conversation for a sec. I think this is neither a "small congregation" nor a "large congregation" issue. Before I gained first-hand experience with this, I would have only expected to find it in small churches where the personalities could be isolated and therefore wield greater control. However, the "abusers" from whom I escaped were/are in control of a large congregation, 6000 strong. They have a small radio broadcast, a large monetary base, ties to prominent "names", and thousands of witnesses/adherents to their control.

They have made headlines in my city with their stands and boycotts. Yet, though they have such wide exposure, the glass house has yet to fall. Interesting.

Again, Dory thank you, thank you for these posts. This is something I have been shouting for a long time on my site. Thank you!


Boy, you nailed it! We left a church after being on the receiving end of this very thing. We had been in leadership for 7 years, etc., members in good standing. We heard about one other person who had been on the receiving end before us. His wife said, "He will tell no one. He thinks it is not Christian."

After we left, ONE person called us. When I started to share with her -- a close friend of mine -- she said, "I will not hear bad things about XX." I cried on Sundays for a while, but I would never go back. Even the Pastor said, "well, she's like that with me, too." !!!


Dear BBoop,
This is the first time I have ever conversed on line. Is it alright that I do? Have you found a church where you can heal and grow?
Something I read in one of the books Dory mentions was of particular interest to me. It said that it's OK to get lost in a church where you can heal. We were able to do that after our abuse-sit back, say we had no intentions of membership, speak when we felt we could, visit and have visits when we were able, but concentrate on understanding what happened to us and, by God's grace, feel its hold on us lessen. The people in that church have no idea how they ministered to us just by lovingly letting us be.


The author writes "But when this group dynamic is going on, there is some possibility of making your case to those involved who are not personality disordered. They have the ability to empathize with you and at least consider your point of view. If you can get them alone and share what you are going through--what they are inflicting--you might be able to convince them to back off."
But I have no opportunity to do this because leadership has instructed me not to discuss the attacker (who is attacking the leadership) with anyone. The attacker goes around giving his side of it to everyone, and I can't give our side of it to anyone.

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