from Spiritual Abuse


Why was this web site established?


My name is Henry Sheppard and I have constructed the Recovering from Spiritual Abuse web site for three reasons:

ONE:   Therapy
This is a therapeutic exercise. After suffering years of spiritual abuse*, this exercise has played a major role in my personal recovery program.
    *According to David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen, the authors of The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse — Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church (1991, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota) spiritual abuse is said to occur “when someone is treated in a way that damages them spiritually”.

For example:
When an Assemblies of God (AOG) “youth pastor” in Adelaide, South Australia, took a fatherless teenage girl into a darkened room and beat her with a cricket bat, that was Physical Abuse.
When he admitted that he was sexually aroused by the experience, that was Sexual Abuse.
But when he and his father (the then AOG National Superintendent) tried to use their positions as ministers of religion to shame her and her family into remaining silent about his behaviour, that was Spiritual Abuse.
Part of Johnson and VanVonderen’s advice for dealing with spiritual abuse is for the victims to “keep telling the truth”. Which leads to the second reason for the existence of this page.

TWO:   Encouraging Others
I have taken a number of steps to confront the people responsible for spiritual abuse in my life over the last few years. These small exercises have had the (unintended) impact of encouraging other victims, who have learned — through reading my story — that their own experiences were not “all in their mind”. So I am continuing to tell my story for the benefit of other victims.

THREE:   A Contact Point
Some people have been encouraged by simply reading my story. We may be able to achieve more by providing a contact point for fellow victims. So, if anybody wants to, they can make e-mail contact with us via a “Visitors Book” included on this web site.

Now that we have completed the introduction, you can begin exploring the site.

1. My introduction to Spiritual Abuse:
— The (Australian) AOG Insurance Agency Scandal

2. Exploring Spiritual Abuse.

3. Order your own copy of "The Evidence" (5th edition).

4. Make your mark in The Visitors Book.

5. Read some (helpful) Comments by Visitors.

6. You might like to visit some Related Internet Sites.

7. If you are associated with the Australian AOG, you might like to read the sentence that Fred Evans has requested I remove from the site. (The sentence is true, but he finds it embarrassing that people know about it.)

8. Why not just forgive them and forget about it?

9. A response to the AOG Response.

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Last update: 16 October 1999