The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is conducting its 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA 2017 Annual International Conference in Bordeaux, France from July 5-7, 2018 (preconference workshops on Wednesday July 4). Dylesia was selected as a speaker! She will co-facilitate a presentation entitled Spiritual Abuse: Blaming the Victim. Read the abstract below.
In the context of spiritual abuse, the phrase victim blaming refers to actions or words that hold spiritually abused persons partially or completely responsible for the maltreatment they endure. Victim blamers may use language to insinuate that weakness in the victim – not impairment in the abuser – led to spiritual abuse. Unfortunately, because victims of spiritual abuse often blame themselves for their involvement with spiritually abusive individuals and/or in spiritually abusive organizations, victim blaming only exacerbates already present anxiety, confusion, depression, and worthlessness. This presentation will educate attendees about spiritual abuse victim blaming, also addressing some of its underlying causes and its impact on victims. Implications for clergy members and mental health providers as well as exit challenges faced by victims that should be considered by those in connection with them will also be presented. Recognizing victim blaming as a global challenge faced by those who have been spiritually abused, the presenters seek to educate attendees about the importance of empathetic, attentive, and advocacy-oriented support.
Dylesia will also present a poster on How the Evolution of Child Sociology Impacts Child Involvement in Spiritual Practice. Read the abstract below.
Though sometimes supported by followers, the evangelical customs upheld by many religions are capable of leading parents, guardians, and other parishioners to abuse children by training them for proselytization or holding them to unreasonable expectations, such as living without fault (Cooper, 2012). These behaviors – sometimes severely and repetitiously patterned in religious settings – represent psychological maltreatment as they have the capacity to convey to children that they are inadequate, contemptible, or only suitable to be exploited (Cooper, 2012). Though sometimes well-intentioned, the approaches used to indoctrinate children support outmoded concepts of child sociology, which has evolved from viewing children as property, to viewing them as inexperienced, assailable, and powerless, and currently to viewing them as people who have privileges and rights (Segura-April, 2016). This evolution has impacted how child participation is viewed, leading many professionals to consider models such as Roger Hart’s Ladder of Participation when assessing if child-involved pursuits are exploitative, frivolous, or appropriate (Hart, 1992; Segura-April, 2016). In this presentation, the facilitator will define and provide examples of childhood spiritual abuse, share concepts about theology in children and data about peer influence that support the potential for spiritual abuse, and guide attendees through the process of assessing spiritual abuse in children.
Cooper, C. (2012). Confronting religiously motivated psychological maltreatment of children: A framework for policy reform. Virginia Journal of Social Policy & The Law 20(1), 11; 24-25.
Hart, R.A. (1992). Children’s participation: From tokenism to citizenship. Florence: UNICEF.
Segura-April. (2016). Appropriate child participation and the risks of spiritual abuse. Transformation, 33(3), 177-178.