Religious trauma is tricky because it often occurs in subtle ways but has really damaging effects. And it's also really tricky because it happens in the very communities that people are meant to be the safest in. And that's where Dr. Quincee Gideon comes in! Quincee is a clinical psychologist who practices in Los Angeles and specializes in religious trauma and cult recovery. And she knows her stuff! Through her work, she helps people to create a new story for their lives and start thriving again.
What is Religious Trauma?
Quincee mentioned that in order to understand religious trauma, we first need to understand what trauma is. She defines trauma as an experience that was too much, too fast, or too often. And when this happens, our nervous system becomes overwhelmed, which puts us into survival mode. Simply put, religious trauma occurs when a person experiences trauma in a religious setting.
And for those that experience religious trauma, the world can start to feel really isolating. Because the one space in the world that was supposed to be the safest ended up hurting them the most. Quincee says that religious trauma survivors often feel as though they have nowhere to go after experiencing trauma and struggle to feel safe in many situations. And sometimes, these individuals don't even know that they're in an unhealthy religious setting. So let's talk about some indicators of religious trauma.
Here are some signs you might have experienced religious trauma:
Delayed emotional development
Extremely low self-esteem
Intense feelings of guilt
Quincee's Personal Experience With Religious Trauma
Quincee tells us that she grew up in a very conservative part of the Southern Baptist church. Her family moved around a lot throughout her childhood, and the church was how they found community. One of these churches, during Quincee's high school years, marked the beginning of a long history of religious trauma. She said that before this, she had received some traumatic messaging from the church, regarding her place in the world and how she was supposed to treat men.
The church supported Quincee's traumatic marriage, and she also witnessed various forms of abuse in the church. She says that church members were policed, and women were often 'character assassinated', meaning that their reputations were tarnished to help the church maintain its power. Quincee says that often, there's an event that makes you question everything that the group has ever told you. And this questioning process was the beginning of Quincee's healing process.
Where To Start If You Think You're Experiencing Religious Trauma
If you think you're experiencing religious trauma, Quincee says that it's important to start with a safety assessment. If you're suspecting that your safety is in danger, finding a professional to help you navigate religious trauma is crucial. Having a professional in your corner will not only help you heal but help you understand the process as well.
Quincee says that there are two things religious trauma survivors need, which are education and support. Quincee offers both in her religious trauma and cult recovery membership (which you can find linked below). Reaching out for help from a therapist or friend that isn't associated with the group or church can be really helpful as well.
Don't forget to listen to this week's full episode for all of the helpful information that Quincee has to offer! Until next time, friend, keep taking healthy action.
How To Connect With Quincee:
Free resources, membership, & all the things: Head here!
On Instagram: @drquincee