Read a memoir from someone who left a spiritually abusive or a high control group. Compare what the author went through with what you experienced. Think about how you would advise that person. If you can relate to the wrong they experienced, and advise them, would you give yourself similar advice? If it is not okay there, why would it be okay here?
Research How other Groups Interpret Sacred Texts
You already know how your group interprets a passage or sacred text. Why not find out how other people think about it and then decide what makes sense to you? Look up the historical context. Look up the words in their original languages. It may be that both sides make some sense or none at all. But in the process you become an informed, mindful participant in the process of constructing your own faith (or non-faith).
Do Art to Express What You Feel
After focusing nearly exclusively on religion and religious activities, it is empowering to discover a new hobby. You likely have been discouraged from spending time on “non-spiritual” matters. But developing your skills and interests is a way to honor the gift of life.
Dance, sing, act, write, paint, or make furniture. Get fit, hike, or prepare for a 10k fun run. Feel free to experiment and to dabble. Could it be that developing your skills and interests is a way to honor God?
Write a Letter to Get Closure
If you have been cut off or have chosen to leave a situation of spiritual abuse, often there was no opportunity to state your side of things. It can be very healing to write a letter to the people who have hurt you. It provides an opportunity to clarify your choice, express you love, and state the hurtfulness of what has been done to you. The important thing is to write freely and not edit your thoughts. For now it is about the catharsis, the letting go of the negative feelings. Writing a letter of closure is to give you a voice. Share this with a trusted friend or counselor.
Argue Against Teaching that Harmed You
For this activity you will need written material from the group. If no written material exists, use some form of media. The activity is to review the material and argue with it. Do not edit your response. Write the first things that come to mind.Here are some ideas:
Anything you disagree with write, “I disagree.” If it makes you mad, write, “This makes me mad.”
Identify attempts to shame the reader, identify whenever fear is used, or identify statements that manipulate the emotions.
Identify statements that isolate the reader from others, whether the others are in the group or outside the group. Write, “Isolation.”
Identify the references to men or boys and compare them to references to women. This can help you identify hidden agendas and the way men are set up for power and women are groomed for submission. Write “misogynistic” next to ideas that lead to distrust or harm of women.
Identify statements that do not match with science.
Identify when sacred texts are taken out of context
"Changing one’s theology is not always bad, especially when it is to correct an injustice. In past times, slavery was justified, as was the stoning to death of others, and the sale of one’s daughters. Many people now consider these practices abhorrent, even though the passages used to support these practices are still in the text."