STEP SIX CONTINUED: Take inventory of ourselves to discover any way in which we have hurt, disappointed, or abused anyone by our religious beliefs.
Instruction: Consider inflicted abuses.
The concept of religious abuse is not as common as drug, alcohol, physical, mental, or sexual abuse, but abuse can be found in far too many religious settings. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen as often, or maybe more often, but the concept is just beginning to be recognized. People are beginning to talk about it more and more, and programs are forming to help individuals cope with the abuses caused by a religious leader or a religious organization. One common form of religious abuse is the use of guilt to shame its members into giving lavish amounts of money to a religious organization. Some have been convinced that they should sell their homes and give the money to the religion they belong to. Some have left large amounts of money in their wills and trusts. We are not condemning the offering of the giving of money in general, but balance is missing. A lack of balance can mean that some people aren’t taking care of themselves or their families.
Another serious form of abuse is when a religious leader sexually abuses his or her position to have sexual relations with a member, or members, of their religious group. Some even justify this by claiming this is what their Supreme Being desires. No! This is what they desire! We hope that no one who is reading these lessons is sexually abusing someone else, but we do know that these things can and do sometimes happen. If that is the case, we urge you to seek professional help. Once again, the point is made that we often do what has been done to us (although this is often not the case with sexual abuse), and we find it difficult to break old habits of behavior. Step Six is designed to help us look at our own lives to be certain that we are not doing to others what has been done to us. It behooves us to break the cycle in order to find the healing and freedom we want for ourselves.
Today’s assignment is for those who are sexually abusing someone and also for those who have been sexually abused. Both parties need to seek professional help. Religious Recovery also welcomes you to their meetings, but we want to remind people in these circumstances that we are a non-professional, self-help organization and although there is a lot of help that we have to offer, we also recognize our limitations.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.