Trigger Warning: In this faith-focused podcast episode, Anne and guest, Anna M. Jonathan, refer to their Christian beliefs and satanic ritual child sex abuse.
We recognize that many victims of spiritual abuse find religion and spirituality to be traumatizing, while others find religion and spirituality comforting and healing. Please know that you are welcome and loved in this community no matter where you are on the spectrum of spirituality.
How Does Spiritual Abuse Affect Victims?
Spiritual abuse takes many forms. From abusive men using scripture to coerce wives into sex, to clergy counseling victims to “forgive and forget” abuse and infidelity, victims of religious abuse may find that religion and spirituality are traumatizing. Women in our community who have experienced spiritual abuse share that they are triggered when they:
- Enter a place of worship
- Hear certain verses of scripture
- Are approached by clergy or other male leadership or members of faith communities
- Hear or sing spiritual songs or hymns
In the case of Anna M. Jonathan, a member of the BTR.ORG community, the severe spiritual abuse that she endured in the form of satanic ritual child sex abuse did not deter her from engaging in healthy religious and spiritual practices later in life.
Can Victims of Spiritual Abuse Find Healing?
Many victims of spiritual abuse do find healing – some through disengaging from religious practices, and others through finding a new relationship with their Higher Power.
Victims experience trauma when they are made to feel powerless in a scary or painful situation. When this happens over and over, as in instances of psychological and emotional abuse, infidelity, and sexual coercion, victims may experience a unique level of trauma that makes healing feel impossible.
However, as victims take courageous actions to protect themselves from harm, educate themselves about abuse, and seek community and validation, healing becomes possible.
BTR.ORG Is Here For You
Spiritual abuse is one of the most insidious forms of control over another person – taking advantage of, or completely ruining – another human being’s relationship with their Higher Power can’t be described in any other way but purely cruel.
At BTR.ORG, we want you to know that we trust you however you need to heal from spiritual abuse. Whether that’s by re-engaging with religious and spiritual practices in a new way, or stepping away, we understand and we support you.
Our BTR.ORG Group Sessions are a safe space for you to process the grief that often accompanies spiritual abuse. Please attend a session today.
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. Anna is back on the podcast today. We’re talking about a really sensitive subject with child sexual abuse and also satanic ritual abuse. If you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, start there first and then join us here. A trigger warning: she does talk about the abuse that she suffered as a child. It’s not graphic, but she does share a specific event that occurred.
This is probably one of the most emotional episodes that I’ve ever done. I edited out a lot of it, but before we start, I just wanna share with you my belief in God – that I believe in God, and that my savior, Jesus Christ, has delivered me and delivered my children, and that it was a miracle. I just know it wasn’t me. As I prayed and listened to the spirit and followed what it told me to do, that Jesus Christ, my Savior delivered me. I’m so thankful that there is a loving, caring, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother and a Savior who care about me, and they care about you. And just like we cannot trust our abusers, we can trust them. Okay, now let’s get to this episode.
“Where is My Savior Here?”
Having experienced abuse from your father and then abuse from your husband, but not recognizing that you were being abused, you’re being severely abused, but you’re not recognizing that you’re being severely abused- emotional, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. You’re going through all of this in the overarching context of spiritual abuse where they’re pulling in things from mainstream religion, like our faith, and they’re using it to abuse you. And not only that, but taking it a step further and mimicking those things and putting them in the context of Satan.
So I have some questions about that. In that occult, when they are saying, ‘Satan is more powerful’, talk about how you came to realize that Jesus Christ for you really is more powerful than Satan when you had been taught differently. And also when earthly experience kind of confirmed it. You’re living in this abuse, you’re trying to obey the commandments, but it was confirmed that Satan was more powerful because despite your obedience, despite your scripture study and your prayer and everything, you’re still being oppressed by abuse and not even knowing it. So in that situation, it would be easy to think, Well, where is my Savior here? So can you talk about that struggle to understand, because your mortal experiences were filled with Satan’s powerful, even overwhelming, tangible evil, how you came to your testimony of Christ?
Supportive, Safe Clergy
Anna M. Jonathan (06:39):
When we first moved to the new state, we lived in one place for 14 years, and we had five incredible bishops. And it was mostly because the first bishop we had was young, was new, a newly created ward, and he was very dedicated.
For listeners who aren’t familiar with our faith, when we say the word “ward,” what we mean is congregation and the congregations are made of all volunteers. And the bishop is “called”, which means he’s assigned for a period of three to five years, sometimes seven, to manage the ward, to manage the congregation, and then they’re released and someone else is called. So just wanted to give background so people could understand what you were saying. So thank you. Keep going.
“I Kept Working Through the Different Experiences I Had Had”
Anna M. Jonathan (07:33):
That’s great. And they’re lay people. He was so unfamiliar with the abuse that I was talking about of parents sexually abusing their children and their grandchildren. It just was so foreign to him. But he was willing to listen to the spirit, and he did go to the temple often, and he told me, “I have to fast and pray and go to the temple a lot because I just don’t get this at all.” But he was so supportive. So in turn, he mentored the other four bishops when bishops were released, and we moved into other wards in that same stake. And so we were extremely blessed in that way. So when I moved to another part of the state, it was a different story.
And so this first bishop that I worked with, the question came up, how do I see Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. And for the very first time, I voiced how I saw them, and I said, “I see them both naked waiting for me on the other side in heaven to have sex with me. That’s how I see them.” And when I finally expressed that and would be very honest with my feelings, we started to work at really understanding the true nature of Jesus Christ and of my Father in Heaven and who they were. And my bishop started to help me separate how they were really different from Satan. That they weren’t <laugh>, they weren’t the same at all. And that took several years. That took years and years.
“Who is More Powerful?”
And finally as I kept working through the different experiences that I had had, which also at times included some very sacred experiences. When those sacred experiences, I remembered them, it was like, “Wow, that’s a lot different than what I had remembered.” I started to understand how Jesus Christ saw me and how my Heavenly Father saw me, and it started to change my perception of how I saw them. And it finally came right before we moved from this area, and we’d lived there for about 14 years. I could see myself standing with my Savior and with my Father in Heaven, fully robed, and I was in a beautiful white dress. I felt very confident standing with them, realizing that there was a horrific difference between them and between Satan.
I knew that they were both real, but still that thought in my mind always lingered there for a long time: But who is more powerful? Jesus Christ can be clothed now and I can be clothed in front of him. But is Satan really more powerful than Jesus Christ? And it has just been the daily scripture reading, the following the Spirit.
My life has been in segments. Each experience was just tucked away deep inside of my soul. And finally when I was able to get in therapy and work them through and start connecting them and saying, “Oh, this is why this happened”, I could finally see Jesus Christ woven throughout my whole life. Even through the most horrific experiences of Satan, I could see that he was always there. I was always being strengthened by the Savior, but I had to acknowledge it. It’s been hard. It’s been hard to acknowledge that, and to also hold on to that faith. I’ve been trying really hard at times to get rid of the fear and allow the faith in Jesus Christ to be more powerful than the fear. And that’s really when I made a big change, is when I would let go of the fear and just strive to have faith. And it’s hard.
TRIGGER WARNING: Child Sexual Abuse
Did you ever consider going a non-religious route in this struggle, is Christ or Satan more powerful? Did you ever consider thinking, “Well, maybe this whole thing is just a bunch of hogwash. There is no Jesus, there is no Satan; this is just a way to control and oppress people. I am out.” Did you ever consider that route, or was that not ever a part of your thought process?
Anna M. Jonathan (12:28):
I understand what you’re saying, but as I think I’ve said before, I knew that they were both real. I knew from experience that Jesus was real, and I knew from experience that Satan was real. And so no, it was never an idea of it is just all a bunch of baloney. No. One or the other had to be more powerful.
Well, let me share this one, and it might help because I feel like I’m talking around so much an experience. When I was four years old, I had a green western dress that I just loved because it twirled, and my father and I were at his workplace, and he worked on machinery. We were all by ourselves, secluded area. There was nobody else around. And he wanted me to perform oral sex on him. And in primary, I had learned that Heavenly Father wanted us to do good things.
“He Started Me on Fire, But Then He Saved Me”
And I knew that doing that to him was not a good thing. And so at four years old, I told him no, and I started walking for the door. He had a cigarette lighter that he used in his work, and he started the back of my dress on fire, and I was almost to the door- it was just so close next to him, so there was no place to run. And he knew that the fire wouldn’t explode because I wouldn’t run anywhere. He had a bucket of water right next to him that he used in his work, and I started just screaming, and he put the fire out immediately. Well, he took me in his arms and I just sobbed and sobbed. And he just said, “Do not ever tell me no again.”
And so that was impressive. People wonder, ‘Well, why did you keep doing this stuff?’ Or ‘Why as an adult did you stay and do things that he told you to do and stuff?’ Well, that was when I was four years old. There’s other things that happened when I was 12 that even intensified that Don’t ever tell me no. And so I remember after that happened, he told lies about how my dress got burned, and I knew he was a liar. He was my dad, but at that time, my mind was so confused. He had started me on fire, but then he saved me, and how do you rectify that in your little kid’s mind?
“It Was So Incredibly Traumatic”
And I remember saying a prayer as a four year old after that, and telling Heavenly Father (because in primary we had learned that we lived with him before we came here), “I don’t wanna be here anymore. I wanna come home. I wanna be with you.” And I remember the Savior coming to me himself, and I came to about his knees, and I can remember feeling his robe and feeling his arms down around me. And I knew that he came to let me know that I was okay, that he was there, and that I would be okay.
I tucked those experiences away because I couldn’t tell anybody what my daddy had done because he would hurt me more, how much more can you get hurt as a child than being on fire? And so I know there’s a lot worse that can happen, but for me at that time, it was so incredibly traumatic.
“…The Answers Came Eventually.”
As an adult, when I was thinking about this experience and these experiences, I thought two things: Why did the Savior not pick me up; why didn’t he hold me up? Was I not good enough for him? And, and it took me a long time and a lot of fasting and prayer and asking Heavenly Father, and I had to get into a spot where I could really understand the answer. But the answers came eventually, and the first thing was, if he had picked me up in this mortal world, he would’ve had to put his arm under my bottom to hold me; that’s just how we hold kids. And that would’ve caused a lot of confusion in my four-year-old mind because I was being sexually abused all the time. And so that would confuse me. And the other thing was, is if he had picked me up and held me, I would’ve thought he was taking me home and I couldn’t go home yet.
“I Realized I Gained a Confidence About me As a 4-Year-Old”
I had a lot of things I needed to still do here in mortality. And so as an adult, I realized that I gained a confidence about me as the four-year-old, because I was pretty brave to tell my dad no. That was pretty gutsy of a little four-year-old girl. But that experience helped me. It gave me some confidence and courage. They helped me get through the things that were going to happen in the next couple of years, even after that happened.
And if that helps any, there’s another thing that when I was 18, I was in what I call a torture chamber, and it was hideous, but that got so overwhelming that I did have a near death experience, and I got to choose if I wanted to come back to Earth.
And I begged to come back because I needed to still have my children, and I had promised others that I would be here for them. And yeah, it’s been a rough ride. That experience was not a happy one for me when I first remembered it years later. But as I have understood it more and more, it becomes my catalyst of why I’m here. That there are a lot of people that need encouragement to know that yes, our Heavenly Parents, and I’m talking Mother is so involved in our lives. It’s amazing. And Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven and Mother in Heaven are real. They are true, and they know exactly what’s going on, and they are here and they are helping. They know our struggles, but they also know that we’re going to win. We’re going to be okay, and our children are too. But boy, that’s a hard one. It’s a really hard one.
“Good Will Triumph Over Evil”
Good will triumph over evil,
Anna M. Jonathan (19:42):
Our Savior is more powerful than Satan. Even if our earthly experiences feel like hell, that’s one thing that I have often said (and thank you so much for sharing such sacred experiences. I really appreciate it), is that hell is now. It’s never going to get worse than this.
Anna M. Jonathan (20:08):
I love that, Ann. That is so awesome. You are right. And yes, hell can get hellish. It can get worse and worse it seems, but you’re right. And even now, especially in these last days, Satan is rampant, but that’s why we are here. That’s why you’re here and doing this incredible work. That’s why we’re here to touch lives and say, “Sisters, keep going forward.” You’re doing an incredible work and don’t give up. Get discouraged, and throw your hands up at times, but keep reaching out to us who are here to say, “Keep going. It’s worth it. However it works out is gonna be okay.”
I just want you and all the other incredible sisters to know that they are here for a reason now, and you are good enough and you are going to make it. And when you’re in the middle of it, just keep getting up every day and just keep moving forward. Just keep moving forward, even though you don’t know where you’re at half the time, just keep moving forward and it will work out. It doesn’t work out the way we think it’s going to a lot of times, but it will work out.
Support the BTR.ORG Podcast
Anna and I spent some time together crying after this. I actually stopped recording because it just really intense emotionally. So as I’ve been doing this for so long, talking about pornography, it seems so weird to some people: “Why is she so obsessed with pornography?” It’s because it’s evil. It’s because it is the epitome of evil and wickedness. It’s harmful to our souls, and it’s harmful to anybody who uses it. The darkness that surrounds it is so dark and so harmful. And sisters, I just want you to be able to feel the fruits of your own righteousness, of your own good choices. When you’re married to someone who uses pornography and they’re continually emotionally and psychologically abusing you, it’s very difficult to feel the fruits of your own good choices. That is why God wants us to separate from wickedness in whatever way. It’s going to be safe for us. We cannot force someone to repent. If they want to repent, they will, but we can get to emotional and psychological safety.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week, stay safe out there.