Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse characterised by a systematic pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in a religious context and can have a deeply damaging impact on those who experience it.

This abuse may include: manipulation and exploitation, enforced accountability, censorship of decision making, requirements for secrecy and silence, coercion to conform, control through the use of sacred texts or teaching, requirement of obedience to the abuser, the suggestion that the abuser has a ‘divine’ position, isolation as a means of punishment, and superiority and elitism’  (Oakley, 2018)

Spiritual Abuse Resources

A Spiritual Abuse Training package  'Understanding spiritual abuse and developing healthy Christian cultures in the Methodist Church' is currently being developed, which draws on the material in the book below.

The materials will cover what spiritual abuse is, the impact on victims, the features of a good response and building healthy cultures.

The book 'Escaping the maze of spiritual abuse' by Dr Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys is highly recommended:




Replenished Life - Replenished Life are an independent charity which supports those who have experienced abuse and trauma within faith. Visit their website for survivor and supporter resources around the issue of spiritual abuse - coercive control in a religious setting.

Home - Replenished

Replenished Support Line: 07746 153 703
Email: simonandcaroline@replenished.life
Opening Hours:
Monday 9.00 to 17.00
Tuesday 9.00 to 17.00

The Methodist Church is strongly committed to supporting survivors of abuse of any kind and especially abuse that occurred within a church context. The Survivors’ Advisory group has worked to help the church reflect on what needs to change in its culture in order to make it a truly safe space. For more details see Survivor Resources