Religious Trauma: Emily’s Story of Overcoming Lies and Pain Pt. 1
Play • 50 min

Have you ever heard the term religious trauma? Perhaps you’ve even experienced it yourself?

In this episode of Inner Archeology, we talk about Emily’s story of dealing with religious trauma, what that entailed and why it’s something she often thinks about when discussing other topics.


Key Points In Episode:

  • Have you gone through something hard but have kept it to yourself? Just know that opening up to people creates a space for people to have conversations you wouldn’t otherwise have!
  • Keep in mind that talking about religious trauma doesn’t mean you’re “anti-religion”. True: sometimes, talking about religious trauma goes hand-in-hand with deconversion but that’s not always the case.
  • When thinking about religious trauma there are four factors that can help determine its severity:
    1. how involved was your family with religion?
    2. how exposed were you to other communities and spaces?
    3. to what extent did you believe what was being told to you?
    4. did you experience sexual abuse within church settings?
  • Sure, admitting something like the religious trauma you may have faced is a piece of cake, right? Wrong! Emily, for instance, didn’t really admit to herself that she had gone through religious trauma until her mother passed away from breast cancer 5 years ago.
  • Emily grew up in a very religious family that attended Baptist-rooted sermons and seemed to be about what she calls “fire and brimstone”, the fear of the wrath of God and hell. This constant fear for her soul led to Emily getting PTSD as a child.
  • Know someone who has gone through something difficult, religious trauma perhaps? Being curious and having genuine conversations is an excellent way to address hard topics.
  • Hearing this may give you chills: Emily lived in a constant state of fear of divine wrath but it wasn’t something her family said that hurt her the most, but rather something the community around her said.
  • Emily developed the idea of self-abandonment because she was told over and over again that her natural self was sinful and wrong, and that she needed to kill her sinful self and allow Jesus to live within her.
  • She experienced a complete disassociation from her intuition and internal guidance system – plus, she developed a profound sense of distrust toward herself and stopped being able to function properly. Stop and think for a moment, and ask yourself ‘what if that was me, what would I have done?’.
  • Emily got fed up with the spiritual and psychological abuse she was subject to once she got married – and she walked away from it all at age 22, after having dealt with all kinds of situations, including not being given access to food… Yes, food!
  • If you’re dealing with trauma and feel stuck, chances are that what’s blocking you is the anger and resentment space you may be in.
  • Think about it: a past trauma you may have experienced is something you can trace back many things to. For Emily, that’s definitely the case with religious trauma.


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Inner Archeology Email

Sarah Turner on Instagram

Emily Pennystone on Instagram

@Inner.Archeology on Instagram (video version)

Kevin James Thornton on TikTok

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