There's no guarantee that we will never be hurt by another person or group, but having strong boundaries will go a long way in protecting us. Boundaries help us define what we expect and what we will accept. If we define our boundaries now, we can assert them and be less vulnerable to another spiritually abusive person or group. Boundaries will help us to resist the techniques used in spiritual abuse. For example, a person's boundaries might include the following:
To resist isolation: I will not allow anyone or any religion to isolate me from the people I love; No one will tell me to cut off relationships with my family or friends. I will choose relationships on the basis of compatibility and character.
To resist intimidation: I will not allow anyone to control my beliefs; No one will tell me what I can believe or not believe. No one will restrict what I can read or view. I will judge the people in my life on the basis of their character, and not some caricature defined by others.
To resist sexual abuse: I am in charge of my sexuality; No one can define my sexuality for me. Mutual consent will be my guide. I will make my own reproductive health decisions.
To resist the use of familial relationships: I will raise my children as I see fit; no one is allowed to do things that harm my children. I will not expose them to adult concepts that create fear or shame. I will make sure they are raised with age-appropriate expectations. I will shield them from scary theology.
To resist coercion and threats: I will make difficult decisions after prayer or meditation, and not because others say I should do this or that. I will ask God for guidance and I will follow my own conscience. I will choose integrity over obedience.
To resist financial exploitation: I will care for my family’s needs first. If I donate money it will be for causes that are meaningful to me. I will give because I want to and not because it is expected or because someone says it is required. I will not ignore my future needs like retirement or education.
To resist the abuse caused by male privilege: I will treat people equally. I will raise my girls to be strong and capable, and my boys to be sensitive and gentle. I will not perpetuate gender stereotypes or tolerate homophobia. I will create a safe zone for others.
Boundaries give us warning signals. When things are not right, our boundaries will help us to end harmful relationships. With practice we can do so early in the process. We can tell ourselves and others, I will not tolerate this. They will either change or not, and if they will not, we can exit. When we choose to exit, it is self-respecting and self-protecting.
Boundaries teach others what we accept and expect. They are a protection and when they are violated our internal alarm warns us that something harmful is about to occur.
My blogs take on all topics related to recovery, including commentary on the intersection of spiritual abuse and current events.
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