FAQs – Why is it important to know/share my story?

The following is a comment I made on Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: Which came first, the thug or the theology?

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Lydia @ September 20, 2014 at 8:16 am

That’s very wise advice for survivors in telling our stories! And the more of us who share our stories, the greater “cloud of witnesses” we create to the abusive environment in a church or ministry or elsewhere. In the past five years or so, think of how many spiritual abuse situations have reached a threshold of details from testimonies that make the allegations about the abusive people and specific patterns involved harder to dismiss. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Institute in Basic Life Principles. Mars Hill Church.

One of the most freeing things I ever did in working through situations of abuse that I survived was to go through the 20-question survey that Barbara Orlowski used for her doctoral research on abuse and recovery. It helped me recall many details that helped give me much more perspective on what happened as I reflected on them. (And because I’d spent over 15 years in several different “malignant ministries” by then, I had to go through some sections of questions multiple times. Wow, did I start to see patterns then!) From this research, Barb wrote the book *Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness*. Here’s the link to the page where you can download the survey.

A while back, I also posted an article called, Is It Time To Tell My Story? It’s a combination of questions and tips for both working through our own accounts of what happened to us, plus doing research reporting or archiving if we happen to be called to that as well. That might be useful, too, if we’re feeling the nudge to share what happened to us.

A note about researching/archiving: This is something I’ve done for half a dozen case studies or websites on abuse situations. That’s in part why I mentioned “documentation” and the need for “sourcing” where we got our information so it can be “verified” and gone back to. Sources I’ve used include the details from people’s stories, organizational histories, online blog and website links, timelines, by-laws, court papers, contracts, minutes of meetings, non-profit reports, etc. Often, it seems, when there is a controlling person or group in an organization, their abuse isn’t just in how they treat people, but how they misuse resources of the organization for their own benefit. (For instance, I think we’re seeing internal financial and organizational issues as key factors that keep bringing Mars Hill Church into the news.) So this kind of research can turn out to strengthen a case about control tactics.

Anyway, I know that kind of detailed or research work isn’t what very many people do. But it does seem like a lot of abuse situations have a group of at least a few people who work together to compile that kind of information and/or create websites. And these sites seem to become a focal point for support and community, along with resources that help in recovery.

Final thought: I’ve been actively reading, commenting, and researching in spiritual abuse survivor communities since 2008. It’s amazing and encouraging to see the advances made in getting our stories out there, and letting the truth of what happened shine light on abuse and call for justice and change so that what happened to us doesn’t happen to others. I’m thank for this thread, as another part of of that calling out of darkness.