Spiritual Care

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is defined as any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs. Spiritual abuse can happen to anyone in any religious or cultural group. Spiritual, religious, or cultural abuse can look like:


Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to force you to:

  • have sex or unprotected sex
  • deny or force family planning
  • participate in polygamous marriage or genital mutilation
  • have sex or be married at a young age
  • be in an arranged or forced marriage

Asserting Authority

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to:

  • impose gender roles that are abusive or coercive
  • assert authority
  • reinforce male privilege
  • encourage you to submit
  • give commands
  • punish you

Prolonging Abusive Relationships

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to encourage you to:

  • forgive
  • keep the relationship together
  • sacrifice yourself for the relationship
  • excuse or minimize the abuse
  • remain silent 
  • accept suffering


Isolating you from your faith community by:

  • not allowing you to participate in services or events
  • silencing you when you are there
  • moving the family from congregation to congregation
  • forcing you to attend services of a different faith community

Using Children

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to:

  • arrange and force marriage for teens
  • value male over female children
  • use girls as commodities for bride prize or dowry
  • sell young girls as commodities
  • force you to raise children in another faith or no faith

Restricting Access to Health Care

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to force you to forgo:

  • regular check ups
  • family planning
  • medications
  • emergency medical care
  • medical care for your children

Blaming the Victim

Using scripture, traditions, or cultural norms to blame you and justify abuse because you are:

  • female
  • sinful
  • estranged from God
  • not created in God’s image
  • created to be man’s servant
  • unclean
  • polluted
  • defiled

Using Community Coercion

Working through clergy or lay leader or friends and family from your faith community to put pressure on you to stay in the relationship or to put up with the abuse. Coercion may take the form of letters or phone calls on the abuser’s behalf, comments in social settings, etc.

Information from the Spiritual Abuse Wheel by Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse.

Spiritual Care Program

Because spirituality plays an important role in many people’s lives, we have created a Spiritual Care program to provide spiritual support to those clients that wish to have this be part of our collaborative support. The role of the Palomar Spiritual Care Provider is to provide spiritual support to our clients. Services include emotional support and connections to additional faith-based community resources. 

Call us at 405-552-1010 or visit us at 1140 N Hudson Ave. to be connected to these services.