Saturday, October 11, 2008

Survival Skills - For Those Still There

Even after seeing the truth, some people still find themselves in an abusive, controlling church. For some, it's because their spouse doesn't want to leave. For some, it's because they are employed at the church or their spouse is employed there. And for some, they are afraid to leave because they have been told bad things will happen to them. But no matter what the reason is, everyone needs to make sure they are protecting themselves and guarding their hearts.

Everyone suffers in these types of situations, and my heart really goes out to staff members of controlling churches, because no one knows the mistreatment they endure. I came across a web site several months ago called Shattered Trust, a site for wounded staff associates. John Setser, the author of the site, has also written a book entitled, "Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust." In his book, John addresses people who are still in these types of situations and gives a list of survival skills. His focus is on staff associates, but anyone can learn and benefit from his information. Here's the list......

1. Do not accept abusive treatment as normal. Resist cruelty, coercion, threats, inequity, constraint, and competition.

2. Recognize wounding agents for who they are. They are self-centered bullies who use physical, verbal, sexual, or psychological strategies to get what they want.

3. Be alert to being "set up." Do not let senior pastors indoctrinate or psychologically coerce you into compliance.

4. Seek out a lateral support system. If you are being mistreated, chances are you are not alone. Ignore the "don't talk" rule and share your experiences with others.

5. Watch your heart. Do not give into self-pity, rage, or a judgmental attitude.

6. Don't stay too long. It is never God's will for you to remain in a wounding church. Exit as soon as possible and tell people why you are leaving.

I hope you find these survival skills to be helpful if you are still in a controlling situation, but even more I hope, when you are able, you will leave. Staying too long will only bring hurt to you and your family. Don't be afraid to tell people the truth as to why you are leaving. When we first left we wouldn't talk about it. We just told people we felt like we were "doing what was best for our family," but I realized that the reason so many of us were in these hurtful situations is because we never talked. When someone is mistreating people and there is wounding potential for others in the future, the truth should be told.


Barb said...

I had not been to your site since you linked to me. You have done an amazing job at finding articles that will help many people. I've read through all your posts today and am amazed, like others, at how much is parallel to our experience. I'm linking to your site tonight. Thanks for all your hard work.

Set Free said...

Thanks Barb!
I love your blog too. Your post called "Person Formerly Known As Your Leader," really hit home for me. I could have written it myself. You're right when you say it's amazing how similar our situations are. I have read other blogs too and it sounds like we all came from the same church. I hope that when more people read our stories, they will see the truth and get out of these hurtful situations!

Anonymous said...

Great Post !!!
My heart also goes out to those who are still in situations like this. Thank you so much for your willingness to help and all the time and effort you invest. It is a great blessing to a multitude.

Anonymous said...

Great advice for those still there! I know many several families who are there and they feel trapped. I know your post has to be very encouraging to them. Keep up the good work!

Susan said...

Set free, I am glad you are willing to share this information with friends we know and love.
We were just in a small group meeting at our home and my husband happened to mention something that struck a cord with me. He said that in the last number of months, he'd had a real focus on Jesus. That focus is giving him a peace in these uncertain times.
We have known Jesus for many years, but we spent recent years with a focus on faith, etc. With our heart's focus back on the Lord and His love for us, we have an increase in faith and peace at the same time. Knowing Jesus loves us and experiencing Him is a wonderful thing.
If friends "leave", they will find He will not desert them!

Aida said...

Set Free, this is a great article. I think we sometimes forget that staff members are also victims in abusive churches.

Thanks for all you've shared. I've been busy lately and haven't had time to check in lately but I hope to be more regular. You're doing a great job in informing and encouraging others.

Aida said...

BTW, I posted a link to your blog on my sidebar under "Spiritual abuse resources."

Set Free said...

Thanks Aida!
I check in on your blog on a regular basis and I see your comments on other blogs. You are always so kind and I appreciate all you are doing to help others as well. God bless you!

Aida said...

Thanks for your kind words, set free.