1) Are you trying to work against the Church?
There is a frequent misconception that those who have been traumatized in relation to church are against the Church. Granted, there are some who become so because the wounds cut too deeply for many. But perhaps this common misperception comes because the traumatized intensely struggle with something that once came easily. But when something happens that causes deep emotional and spiritual harm, suddenly church becomes an unsafe place. Now instead of being a place of comfort, fulfillment, and safety–as it once was–church becomes a very difficult place to be. And because they struggle, people are often mistaken that they are now against the Church. So instead of receiving much needed (but, granted, sometimes hard to give) love, support, and understanding, instead many shy away from those who have been deeply hurt. So, in response to this question: Are we working against the Church? Please know that we are not. We are trying to bring healing and understanding for those who often feel that the Church is working against them. This might be hard to consider but that is precisely why we need more education and sensitivity on this matter. Members need to come together in this. We need to understand what is happening when severe damage is done to church members so that they can find healing–and not just find healing for them–but ALL who are affected by church trauma. Because in truth, church trauma damages all it touches: the individual, the family, and yes, even wards.
2) What is church trauma?
There is another name for it: post-traumatic church syndrome. It has been defined in the following ways: 1) A condition of serious spiritual injury that occurs as a result of religion/faith; 2) The vile, noxious, and icky aftermath of intense spiritual injury. Church trauma can come in so many forms. We’ve enumerated many of them in the meme below. But we must not be simple-minded or rigid in our thinking and understanding of church trauma. We must not think that one is weaker or more problematic just because something causes one trauma and not another. There are many factors that play into what causes trauma. We will be working to bring greater clarity to this subject. But as you will likely hear us say again, we must understand that trauma is not offense. We hear much about offense in our church. We have been taught well that we choose to be offended. But offense is not the only level of hurt. There is also trauma. And one does not choose to be traumatized. One does not choose to be shot or robbed or assaulted. And just like a slap must be treated differently than a deep wound, so too must trauma be treated differently than offense.
Here is a presentation on church trauma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQO_1SPy3XI&t=1092s
3) What is your purpose in speaking up about church trauma?
See Our Mission.
See also The Deep and Unspoken Church Ache.
4) How does one remain faithful post trauma?
This is of great concern and one of our great missions. There needs to be help in this area. It is so hard for the traumatized to find their footing and purpose in the aftermath of church trauma. Please know there is a way. Please stay connected to people who understand what you are going through and are working toward this cause. Please know you are not alone. Please stay tuned to our website. We are deeply invested in helping and supporting you. We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also a newly formed Church Trauma Facebook group. We’d love to have you! https://www.facebook.com/groups/217527118826062/
5) How can I support family members/friends who have been hurt by church trauma?
Great question! Glad you asked! Your support is vital to their church survival! The traumatized learn who their true friends are in this struggle because it can be so very hard to be patient, understanding, and even accepting of this arduous journey they (and you) have been thrown on. We will be working to help you with this; we will try to give you insight and tools to use; we will try to offer you hope and encouragement. You need it as much as those who are hurting. So please stay tuned. We will be speaking to you. You can also connect with us at email@example.com.
6) Will you give me a specific example of church trauma?
Yes! It’s sometimes easy for us to forget how hard church trauma is to grasp and how easy it is to disregard for many. It is so unspoken and is a new and hard-to-accept concept for so many. Thus, many specific examples can be found under the “Trauma Stories” tab.