Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating Healthy Christian Cultures

Paperback – £10.99 - Out 20 Jun 2019

by Dr Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys, Foreward by Mark Stibbe

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‘Every time he wanted me to do something, he would quote scripture... I couldn’t argue with scripture, it was like arguing with God.’

The term ‘spiritual abuse’ is widely used across the Christian community. But what is it? 

Sometimes spiritual abuse involves leaders misusing their position, but ministers can also be the victims. Common factors include control through misuse of scripture, claims to divine authority, pressure to conform, and enforced accountability. Individuals may be isolated, and compelled to secrecy and silence. 

Drawing on a combination of extensive research, individual testimonies, and years of hands-on experience, Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys describe clearly the nature of spiritual abuse, and the best ways of countering it. Recovery is possible.

But – how do we prevent spiritual abuse in the first place? What can leaders do to create safer places? Is there a link between theological ideas and harmful behaviours? How can leaders create opportunities for spiritual and emotional flourishing?

 

 

'Writing a book that is honest and clear about spiritual abuse while also being open and responsible about its complexity is a great gift to the Church, and beyond. Lisa and Justin have succeeded in doing this; that they do so with winsomeness and humility simply adds further to this gift.’

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham


‘Spiritual abuse disguises itself masterfully, and preys not only upon the vulnerable, but also the most passionate in the faith. Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys have created a vital resource in this unique, timely, accessible book. It exposes the culture created by bullying leaders with clarity and compassion, and calls us towards health and freedom. Highly recommended.’

Jeff Lucas, author, speaker and broadcaster

‘Writing a book that is honest and clear about spiritual abuse while also being open and responsible about its complexity is a great gift to the Church, and beyond. Lisa and Justin have succeeded in doing this; that they do so with winsomeness and humility simply adds further to this gift.’
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

‘Spiritual abuse disguises itself masterfully, and preys not only upon the vulnerable, but also the most passionate in the faith. Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys have created a vital resource in this unique, timely, accessible book. It exposes the culture created by bullying leaders with clarity and compassion, and calls us towards health and freedom. Highly recommended.’
Jeff Lucas, author, speaker and broadcaster

'Lisa and Justin bravely tackle this rarely discussed form of abuse with great care. If you are a survivor of spiritual abuse, you will recognize your pain in these pages and find help toward healing. If you are a leader, or anyone who wants to walk alongside those who are wounded in this way, here is an invaluable, practical resource for learning how to prevent, identify and respond to spiritual abuse and restore a safe Christian culture.’
Dr Wess Stafford, President Emeritus, Compassion International

‘Spiritual abuse is a difficult subject – a minefield of contentious contexts, opposing viewpoints and personal perspectives. For this reason and more, spiritual abuse needs to be exposed and explored. In this book, Lisa and Justin are honest yet balanced, and it’s clear that they are both motivated by a desire to help strengthen rather than condemn churches and other spiritual environments; to help them be safe and healthy places for people to experience God’s love.’
Arianna Walker, CEO, Mercy UK, author and speaker

‘This book shouts loud about an often-silenced subject – anyone with a passion for Jesus and justice should take the words of this timely text seriously. Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse digs deep into not only the significance of spiritual abuse and the harm it can cause, but also the ways in which individuals and churches should respond. It ultimately guides us through anecdote, research and advice grounded in many years of experience to a place of healing and hope.’
Michele Hawthorne, speaker, activist and founder, Press Red

Dr Lisa Oakley

Lisa is Chair of the Task and Finish Group on Spiritual Abuse in the Church of England and of the National Working Group for Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief. Lisa led the learning review group for the past case review in the United Reformed Church in 2018. Lisa has been in Higher Education for over 25 years and is currently Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Chester. Lisa has been researching the topic of spiritual abuse since 2003 and has written and spoken on this topic nationally and internationally. She has published peer-reviewed articles and gained her doctorate for her research into spiritual abuse in the Christian context in the UK in 2009 from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Justin Humphreys

With a background in social work and church leadership, Justin holds a Master of Science in Child Protection and Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science with honours in Social Work Studies. He has undertaken a range of activities alongside leadership of thirtyone:eight including conducting numerous peer-reviewed research studies into safeguarding issues affecting the Christian community in the UK. He is the current Chair of the Christian Forum for Safeguarding, has recently collaborated with MPs to establish the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)for Safeguarding in Faith Settings and is a member of the expert advisory group on the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the aid sector to the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID).

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