October is my month of talking about Spiritual Healing. This is part of my Year of Healing, in which I tackle different topics of healing each month. During October, I will introduce you to the topics of unhealthy spirituality, spiritual abuse and what it can look like, and recovering from spiritual trauma using blog posts, poems, and a podcast.
On October 30th, 2012, my dear friend and Kindred Spirit lost her life in a Christian community that had turned into a cult. She was psychologically and spiritually abused by her husband, Tyler (the cult leader), and was not supported in any real way when she showed signs of mental distress. She ultimately (most likely) took her own life, completely dragged down by years of spiritual and emotional abuse at this point, and separated from her family and friends on the outside. In short, her death was at its core a murder, whether you parse the details of it or not, and it was utterly tragic.
In this podcast, I interview Boze Herrington, a member of the cult who endured a shunning and then left the cult about 6 months before Bethany died. He tells the story of what happened on the inside, while I give some insight from an outsider’s perspective. We talk about the signs of an unhealthy spiritual community, the damage it can do to people, and how to heal afterwards once something so harmful has happened.
This was a particularly difficult podcast to record, since it is a deeply emotional subject for both of us and it requires a lot of honesty in order to be helpful for others. So thank you in advance for being willing to hear this story, listen to the tragedy, and learn from it. Both Boze and I have constantly spoken out about this story because we believe it’s important to share.
Spiritual abuse does not just happen in extreme cults. It’s happening everywhere in this day and age, and unhealthy spiritual leaders and communities are everywhere. Always be aware that while a community may talk a lot about God, or love, or whatever it is they’re passionate about–actions speak louder than words.
If you feel something is really off–if you feel controlled, manipulated, or devalued–you’re probably right. Trust your gut and please take care of yourself. Toxic spirituality can end in deep damage or even death.
Podcast: The Story of Surviving a Cult – Recognizing Spiritual Abuse & Healing
*Trigger warning* This podcast deals with spiritual abuse, such as shunning and traumatic occurrences inside a spiritual community.