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Religious Trauma & Abuse

Sometimes abbreviated "RA" see this link for other more common uses for "RA".

This is specific to the effects of religious dogma, punishment, threats, religious rituals, etc. when they traumatize the person in question or are used in an abusive way in order to have power and control over a victim while shifting the blame over to a deity or religious doctrine to "blame" for the abuse.

Religious Trauma

Trauma being entirely subjective, there does not need to be anyone deliberately using religion to create trauma for there to be religious trauma. Sermons intended to warn can frighten. Symbols meant to inspire or console can terrify. Movies reenacting a sacrifice or martyrdom can torment the viewer. It's entirely subjective, and if someone lacks the framework or ideology to understand the philosophy intended, the message can be missed or misunderstood.

For us, even seeing the crucifix as someone with no religious belief or dogma for the symbology of it was sufficiently traumatizing to create negative associations with the Roman Catholic church and other religious establishments or homes displaying it. No matter how they view the symbol, we always see a man on a torture device being tormented and dying, and recoil from it. Other messages like sex being a sin, but being sexually abused made for religious cognitive dissonance, especially when the same messages came from the same people. --The Crisses

Religious Abuse

Abuse is deliberate, and involves someone actively exerting power & control over a victim.

A religious abuse perpetrator may attempt to convince the victim how much they care about the victim and how much they love them —BUT— are forced or ordained by a deity to punish or cleanse the victim in order to prevent some awful preordained fate from happening to the victim.

They may twist or use doctrine to exert power & control over their victim.

Sometimes religious abuse is interwoven with other forms of abuse. They may seek out specific scriptures to reinforce how "bad" their victim is, or how the victim needs to pay for their sins, to justify abusing the victim physically, sexually, emotionally.

This form of abuse is particularly insidious as the victim feels shamed for being "wrong" in the foundations of their very existence, or in the eyes of an unknowable deity, and confused about who the blame should go to for their trauma, pain, and suffering. Often the perpetrator is excused from responsibility by some unseen unknowable authority. Much of the time the victim ends up feeling enormously burdened with their wrongness in life when in actuality it's a cover up for an abuser who doesn't want to take the blame (in fact, the things they may be doing could easily constitute hypocrisy in their own religious doctrine!) for their own actions.

Less directly deliberate religious abuse can also take place through emphasizing doctrines such as being gay being sinful — it may prevent someone from coming out and cause them to hide or deny the truth about themselves, enter into a heterosexual-appearing marriage under false pretenses, and create trauma and suffering as well as deep conflict as to how they could be "made this way" by the same deity who supposedly says that people can't be "made this way" without being an anathema.

Religious traumas & abuses can drive down to the core of a person's existence. It can easily lead to suicidal depression as the existential conflicts are difficult to manage.

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