Therapists Justin and Joy get together for a conversation about spiritual abuse and how it can present in a church environment. Reflecting on their personal experiences, they explore the impact of spiritual abuse, describing how they learnt to recognise it and what it was like to walk away from congregations they cared about deeply. They also share some of the healing and growth that has taken place as their lives changed and they began to recover and rebuild in different areas of their lives.

Conversation starts at 14m 09s

Images used with permission


Joy Brooks

Justin Marsh


In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult

When Narcissism Comes to Church

Let us Prey

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse


“It’s no longer about wanting to prove that something happened, but it’s about wanting to bring something that feels so shameful into the light. And it’s about wanting to reach out a hand to anyone else who might have been in, or is in that situation and say, ‘You’re not on your own.’”

“The thing that makes spiritual abuse over just a simple power dynamic is that there’s an eternal aspect or an eternal dynamic to it, which is if you aren’t obedient, you might not get as good a place in heaven, or you might run the risk of not making it, or there’ll be some judgement attached to it. There’s a sense of you’re doing it not for the leader or for the church, but you’re working for God. So, it’s almost like the human leader is putting himself in the place of God and you can’t really argue with a deity, can you? You can’t really argue with God.”


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  1. Patricia Nov 26, 2020

    I’ve been reading a lot about spiritual bypassing and gaslighting and this podcast added beautifully to my journey. Thanks to putting into words so much of what I’ve been feeling. And thanks for encouraging me to continue my journey to full healing.

    • Thank you for taking the time to let us know. I’m so very glad our words were encouraging and am wishing much goodness to you on your continued journey.

  2. Bonnie Fearer Nov 28, 2020

    I rarely resonate 100% with anything, but this episode was SO SPOT ON. You spoke my story, and it was so healing to hear others give voice to something that is real, insidious –and underreported– in so many faith communities. Thank you for being brave, and for being generous with your own stories.

    • Thank you for your kind words, I really do appreciate them. It’s so encouraging for me to hear that our stories can help others in their healing process.

  3. Thank you both so much for sharing so generously and being so vulnerable. This resonated for me, both as a recovering evangelical but also having recently experienced abuse in a work situation which resulted in me choosing to leave a much loved work community. Thank you both for making me feel less alone, clearer in my appreciation for what I’ve been through, and hopeful for healing and ultimately being stronger through this experience.

    • Thank you for taking the time to encourage us with your lovely words. I’m so sorry to hear of your recent experiences and I really hope you can have the time and safe spaces you need to heal and recover.

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