When Religion Hurts You
Healing from Religious Trauma and the Impact of High-Control Religion
Where to Purchase
Spiritual abuse is something that happens far more often than most people realize.
In When Religion Hurts You, Dr. Laura Anderson takes an honest look at a side of religion that few like to talk about. Drawing from her own life and therapy practice, she helps readers understand what religious trauma is and isn't, and how high-control churches can be harmful and abusive, often resulting in trauma. She shows how elements of fundamentalist church life--such as fear of hell, purity culture, corporal punishment, and authoritarian leaders--can cause psychological, relational, physical, and spiritual damage.
As she explores the growing phenomenon of religious trauma, Dr. Anderson helps readers embark on a journey of living as healing individuals and finding a new foundation to stand on. Recognizing that healing is a lifelong rather than a linear process, she offers markers of healing for those coming out of painful religious experiences and hope for finding wholeness after religious trauma.
1. My Story
2. What Is Religious Trauma?
3. Religious Abuse and Adverse Religious Experiences
4. Nervous System 101
5. Rebuilding Your Identity after the Old One No Longer Fits
6. Engaging in a Relationship with Your Body
7. Stabilizing the Nervous System
8. Boundaries Built on a Foundation of Self-Trust and Self-Compassion
9. Grieving the Life You Once Had
10. Developing a Robust Spectrum of Emotions
11. Reclaiming Sexuality and Pleasure
12. Establishing Healthy Connections and Relationships with Others
13. Integrating the Living Legacy of Trauma
Appendix: Religious Power and Control Wheel
"A brilliant blend of anecdotal and academic, this book offers a compassionate road map for those recovering from religious trauma. Dr. Anderson offers guidance on how to put lives back together and provides a thorough resource for mental health professionals to help them counsel others in the process. Poignant and personal, this book is a must-have for anyone in the muddy aftermath of their exit from high-control or extreme religious groups."
Sarah Edmondson, author of Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life
"Dr. Laura Anderson has written a must-read for those who want to deconstruct the complexity of religious trauma through a lens that is not only scientific but also compassionate. This book is for every person who has experienced shame, guilt, self-doubt, and self-hate within religious contexts."
Yolanda Renteria, licensed professional counselor
"When Religion Hurts You is the most comprehensive, reflective, and helpful book about recovering from religious trauma and church abuse that I've ever read. Using research, personal experience, and her training as a therapist, Dr. Laura Anderson offers a powerful and poignant methodology toward healing. I needed to read When Religion Hurts You. Anderson's wisdom is practical and full of empathy, personal and so very hopeful."
Matthew Paul Turner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of What Is God Like?
"Both compassionate and wise, When Religion Hurts You is the informative guide needed when making sense of and healing from the disorienting and painful experience of religious trauma. I plan to read and reread it, and I believe it will be a book people can come back to repeatedly on their path to individual and community healing."
Hillary L. McBride, PhD, psychologist, author, speaker, podcaster
"I remember when I first started drawing cartoons and writing posts about religious trauma long ago, so many people claimed it was rare and I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Now we know differently, and more people are talking about it. I'm so thankful such a compassionate and wise professional like Dr. Laura has provided a valuable resource that will help people not only to understand what religious trauma is but also to find a holistic path of healing beyond it."
David Hayward, a.k.a. NakedPastor
"When Religion Hurts You is a valuable addition to the robust literature on helping people recover from trauma due to either being born into a religious group that isn't healthy or being deceptively recruited into a religious cult. I am pleased to endorse this book and its recommendations."
Steven Hassan, PhD, MEd, LMHC, NCC, founder and director, Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc.