Religious Trauma Syndrome – 9 Shocking Symptoms

Religious trauma1 is something encountered by many who escaped from disturbing religious encounters. Religious Trauma Syndrome2 (RTS) is a collection of symptoms. They emerge because of distressing religious encounters.

The indications of Religious Trauma Syndrome are like the manifestations of complex PTSD. The consideration of the church as a position of recuperating and change is evident. This condition isn’t present in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the book that clinicians use to make their analyses.

But, the term has been acquiring cash with psychotherapists and instructors. Also with people who work with individuals recovering from the impacts of religious trauma.3

A logical examination of the results of such religious judgment is at the beginning phase. Be that as it may, the potential for abuse is clear. Many experience PTSD-type indications4, including tension, self-uncertainty, and sensations of social inadequacy.

Religious trauma syndrome has recently gained a lot of outreach. People have been boldly coming up to share their past experiences with religious trauma. Many health facilities have established a new sector to accommodate victims of religious trauma syndrome.

1. Causes Of Religious Trauma Syndrome

What is Religious Trauma Syndrome ?

Establishments with man-centric experts in the family can be one of the reasons for religious trauma syndrome. If they are joined with severe philosophy, it adds to the cause. If these outlooks are taken care of at home or school, the indications can be avoided.

When strict religious beliefs are instilled, at a young age, it might constrain a kid in a lot of aspects.
It may damage their capacity of feeling things or participating in activities of choice.

Dictator establishments give lecture orders of control. This can slant an individual’s impression of information.

At last, physical and sexual abuse can assume a huge part in causing trauma after leaving a religious connection.

Physical discipline used as a control to bad behavior can lead to Religious Trauma Syndrome.

2. Symptoms Of Religious Trauma Syndrome

Religious Trauma Syndrome is in the beginning phases of examination and is acquiring a foothold as a genuine conclusion.

The following are a few signs experienced by individuals having religious trauma syndrome:

  • Confused contemplations and diminished capacity to think in an efficient way
  • Negative convictions about self, others, and the world
  • Instigating choices
  • Sensations of despondency, nervousness, distress, outrage, laziness
  • A feeling of being lost, aimless, and alone
  • An absence of delight or interest in things you used to appreciate
  • A deficiency of a local area (family, companions, heartfelt connections)
  • Feeling disengaged or a feeling that you don’t have a place
  • Feeling “obsolete” with social happenings

Also, many different indications of PTSD include:

  • Bad dreams
  • Flashbacks
  • Separation
  • Emotional trouble

Religious Trauma Syndrome is caused for various purposes by various individuals. Many individuals experience RTS from a tyrant religion or orthodox local area.

People experiencing RTS might be battling with:

  • High contrast thinking
  • Unreasonable convictions
  • Trouble confiding in oneself
  • Low confidence
  • Feeling obliged to a gathering of individuals.
  • Slanted perspectives on sex
  • Harmful discipline habits.

3. Recognizing Abuse And Religious Trauma

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Abuse can happen when a strict leader or situation endeavors to control or control others. It tends to be difficult to perceive, and many don’t understand that it is occurring.

If you start to feel like an individual where your religion itself is smashing your soul, you might be encountering religious trauma.
There are a few typical characteristics of a religious trauma abuser:

  • Having unnecessary pride
  • Being dominant and aggressive
  • Having an excessively greedy nature
  • Being a fraud or con
  • Demanding Honor or loyalty without a cause
  • Having a very rigid behavior and wanting to be right always
  • Having an enslaving authoritarian nature
  • Being very intimidating

If you think you are being subjected to such a person showing abnormal amounts of the aforementioned traits, you may be dealing with an abuser.

4. Religious Trauma And Abuse In Relationships

If you think that you are a victim of religious abuse in your relationship, think about how you feel.

You need to consider a few things about your partner if you are undergoing religious abuse in your relationship. Here are the following:

  • Have you felt silenced when attempting to challenge or differ about a religious thought? Do they call your considerations senseless, dumb, or wrong? Do you feel absurd for having an alternate thought?
  • Do you feel disgraced when you differ about certain religious thoughts? Is it alright for you to challenge their thoughts on religion?
  • Does your accomplice drive you to go to religious social events without wanting to?
  • Have you been rebuffed for not agreeing with specific standards illustrated by the religion? Discipline can be physical, or enthusiastic (like accepting the quiet treatment).
  • Do you see your accomplice using sacred writing or certain rules to legitimize their abusive behavior?
  • Does your accomplice segregate you from others outside of the confidence custom, without wanting to?

5.  Abuse In Churches, Temples, Cults, And Gatherings

It is common to see emotional, sexual, physical, and psychological abuse inside religious gatherings and cults. It isn’t ordinary and it isn’t OK.

Because of force elements in these religions, leaders can allow abuse on others and never be accounted for.

At the point when a leader holds the position to reveal to you that you can be:

  • Kicked out of your religious gathering
  • That God might be angry with you
  • That you may go to hell

there is a confounded force dynamic affecting everything.

This hushes victims of abuse and makes it harder to approach to report abuse. If this has happened to you, you don’t need to manage this by yourself. You can mend, and unwind the emotions that come from encountering maltreatment from a religious leader.

Checkout out these pointers, if you are unaware of your place of worship, has abusive dynamics:

  • Do the leaders hold all the positions? Do they try not to appropriate capacity to different individuals from the gathering?
  • Does your place of worship debilitate free reasoning, basic reasoning, or suppositions about their messages?
  • Does your place of worship infer that you are less significant or deserving of adoration as a result of things you can’t change? (for example sex personality, sexuality, nationality, age, and so forth)
  • Do they put down different religions and conviction frameworks to maintain their own?

6. Transition From One’s Faith

Choosing to leave your faith can be a troublesome interaction for many. While it can feel liberating, it can leave you feeling confounded, discouraged, liable, and furious.
At the point when you’ve been a part of a religious gathering for the majority of your life, leaving isn’t only a day-to-day existence change.
It is a choice that shakes the establishment of what your identity is and who you’ve generally trusted you should be.
You may lose companions, family, and others. From many points of view, it can want to begin once again. Individuals progressing out of their faith feel overpowered and uncertain of what is right. Treatment can help unravel a part of these confusing sentiments.
At this point, your character may be changing, and you don’t know how that fits into your faith perspective.
As you develop, change, and go to a more grounded comprehension of what your identity is, it tends to be difficult to impart this to yourself.
Treatment can assist you with refining your dynamic cycle, help you own your personality, and adapt to the sentiments that surface.

7. How To Help Someone Suffering From Religious Trauma?

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Somebody who is going through religious trauma might be going through an enormous measure of pressure. As an observer, relative, or companion, you can move toward the circumstance with sympathy.
It is imperative to regard the limits of somebody battling with this issue, yet you can in any case be there to help:

7.1. Show Restraint

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Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

The injury that religious abuse may have on an individual is huge. Hence, they will not recuperate for the time being. You might be anxious to catch wind of their circumstance so you can offer more help.
But, you need to let the person open up when they are prepared. Keep a positive and strong disposition. Understanding that progress will have its own pros and cons.

7.2. Regard Limits

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

There might be sure subtleties that a friend or family member feels humiliated or embarrassed to concede. Permit the person to draw their own lines to guarantee their own solace and security at this point.

7.3. Oversee Triggers

Religious Trauma Syndrome
Photo by Iluha Zavaley on Unsplash

Like PTSD, somebody battling with Religious Trauma Syndrome may get triggered by specific pictures or sounds. Religious images or sacred writings may cause an unfavorable response from specific people.
Be conscious of the things that may be causing them stress. Converse with them about how you can help them work through triggers should they emerge later on.

8. Conclusion

Religious Trauma Syndrome symptoms5 can be long-lasting and can cause significant damage to one’s mental health. But the good news is, people, do overcome the symptoms and learn to live life in a more optimistic way than before.

Talking to someone you trust or a professional seems to be the best treatment option for such kinds of individuals. Keep in mind that you are not alone. It is important to note that RTS is not recognized as an official psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but it is a concept that some mental health professionals and individuals find helpful in understanding the impact of certain religious experiences.

It’s important to recognize that not all religious experiences are harmful, and many people find comfort, meaning, and a sense of community through their faith. RTS is primarily associated with extreme or harmful religious environments that can negatively impact an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. If you or someone you know is experiencing distress related to their religious or spiritual experiences, seeking professional help from a qualified mental health provider can be beneficial in navigating these challenges.


1. Can anyone experience RTS, or is it limited to specific religions?

A. RTS can potentially affect individuals from various religious backgrounds or belief systems. It is not limited to specific religions and can occur in both highly controlling religious groups and more mainstream religious communities.

2. Is RTS the same as losing one’s faith or experiencing doubt?

A. While RTS can be triggered by questioning or losing one’s faith, it goes beyond simple doubt or skepticism. RTS refers to the significant emotional and psychological distress resulting from harmful religious experiences or indoctrination.

3. Can RTS occur when leaving a religious group?

A. Yes, leaving a restrictive religious environment can be a challenging and traumatic experience for some individuals. The process of leaving a religious group or community can lead to feelings of isolation, rejection, and uncertainty about one’s identity and beliefs.

Read more

  1. Downie, Alison. “Christian shame and religious trauma.” Religions 13.10 (2022): 925. ↩︎
  2. Behdost, Parisa, et al. “The effectiveness of spiritual-religious psychotherapy on love trauma syndrome and acceptance in female students with love failure.” Health, Spirituality and Medical Ethics 6.2 (2019): 45-51. ↩︎
  3. Johnston, Cheryl Lynn. The predictive relationship of religious trauma and spiritual abuse on meaning-making, trust, and depression. Northcentral University, 2021. ↩︎
  4. Hamani, Clement. “Deep Brain Stimulation for PTSD.” Biological Psychiatry 89.9 (2021): S76-S77. ↩︎
  5. Behdost, Parisa, et al. “The effectiveness of spiritual-religious psychotherapy on love trauma syndrome and acceptance in female students with love failure.” Health, Spirituality and Medical Ethics 6.2 (2019): 45-51. ↩︎

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Ayushi Mahajan

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