In the whole-person approach we utilize for healing at The Center, we incorporate the spiritual side of each person. Often those who have undergone a pattern of emotional abuse have withdrawn from any spiritual connections. This is especially true if the emotional abuse took place in a home that was also "religious."
Unfortunately, religious faith has been used as an abusive weapon in relationships, from parent to child and from spouse to spouse. In such homes, God is presented in the context of an all-powerful, punitive, vindictive being, taking on a supersized persona of the abusive personality.
When authority in the family is used to subjugate, the ultimate authority - God - may be negatively viewed. This negative view continues on into adulthood, leaving the abused person fearful of or hostile toward God. Distance is desired, barriers are erected, and spiritual isolation occurs.This is all the more devastating because God, the source of true love and enduring comfort, is not considered a viable avenue for healing and restoration. Guilt and shame may still dictate that the person go through his or her pattern of religious ritual, bu the life-sustaining connection to God is never consummated.
As a part of our whole-person recovery, we encourage clients to discover afresh who God is, separate from the misconceptions created in their abusive parent and becomes their heavenly Father, the one who loves them eagerly and unconditionally. Such clients come to understand their true identity as the bride of Christ - beloved, cared for, and died for.
The above is excerpted from Chapter 3 in Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr. Gregory Jantz.