SpiritualAbuseResources.org (SAR) provides information and assistance to
- those who have been spiritually abused in religious or other settings, mainstream and nonmainstream
- clergy and other religious professionals
- mental health and other helping professionals
- families concerned about loved ones who have been spiritually abused
- anyone interested in the subject
SAR is a program of International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups, alternative movements, and other environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties, and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations. ICSA is unique in how it brings together former group members, families, helping professionals, and researchers.
SAR's unique niche within the ICSA community is to provide information and assistance to those who are most comfortable with the term spiritual abuse to describe the manipulative and exploitative relationships that may lead to:
- damaged self-esteem
- induced dependency
- impaired capacity to trust
- emotional reactions such as anger, anxiety, and depression
- a disturbance in one's faith in God.
SAR has a distinguished Advisory Board - listed below - that helps to maintain the quality of SAR's resource and to plan and participate in SAR conferences.
The Advisory Board of spiritualabuseresources.com (SAR) consists of distinguished individuals knowledgeable about the needs of spiritual abuse victims and their families. The Advisory Board’s roles are:
- Recommend additions, deletions, and changes on the SAR website
- Recommend organizations and websites that SAR should relate to
- Tell others about SAR
- Offer advice to churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations participating in the Spiritual Safe Haven Network
Arthur Buchman is an American-born psychologist and leadership coach in private practice living since 1990 near Copenhagen, Denmark, where he also works via Skype. Born in 1942, he holds a BA in Economics and an MA in Psychology. Arthur specializes in helping people recover from depression, phobias, trauma, relationship conflicts, and cult involvement. He has experience in two different cults, a yoga group and a pseudo-Christian occult music group. Arthur has developed The Life Cycle of Cult Involvement that he has presented at ICSA and other international conferences. He has been ICSA Today's News Correspondent for Scandinavia. Arthur is currently writing a book and presenting a workshop titled, "The Instant Optimist - a practical method for building and maintaining a dependable positive attitude." Arthur Buchman is one of the few mental health professionals in Europe who has expertise as an ex-cult member and is available to travel to help people and their families to recover from a cultic experience. Website: www.arthurbuchman.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +45 2825 4444.
Ron Burks, PhD, holds an MDiv and an MA in counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary and a PhD in Counselor Education from Ohio University. He worked for many years at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Albany, Ohio. He and his wife Vicki wrote Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement, published by Zondervan. His other publications include a chapter on a connection between cults and addiction in the medical reference, Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, published by Williams and Wilkins. He and Vicki now live near Tallahassee, Florida where both are licensed mental health counselors and operate an intensive outpatient substance abuse program at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Ron is a former president of the Wellspring board and is a clinical advisor to both Wellspring and Meadowhaven, a treatment center near Boston. Email: email@example.com Phone: (850) 431-3463
Doug Duncan, MS, LPC, was a member of an aberrant religious group for over twenty years. After defying the cult leader and marrying Wendy, they eventually left the cult and Doug began the task of rebuilding his life. He enrolled in a master’s program in counseling and earned a degree and license to practice therapy. After working on their cult recovery issues by reading all the available cult literature, attending conferences, and becoming involved with ICSA, Doug and Wendy started a ministry to increase the awareness and understanding of cults. They are frequent presenters at churches, civic groups, and conferences, as well as facilitators of a support group for former members of cults and high-demand groups. Additionally, Doug offers individual counseling to ex-members. Wendy Duncan, MA, LBSW, has a Master’s Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a licensed social worker in the state of Texas. She has spent most of her career in the mental health field.Wendy and her husband, Doug, are former members of a pseudo-Christian, Bible-based cult and several years after leaving, they became active in cult awareness activities. They are frequent presenters at ICSA conferences. Wendy co-facilitates a monthly support group for former members of cults in the Dallas metroplex. Wendy is also the author of I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult. Website: www.dallascult.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (214) 607-1065. Dallas, Texas
Rev. Robert C. Fellows, MTS, brings a unique perspective to the study of spiritual abuse informed by his widely varied background. He paid his way through Harvard Divinity School in the 1970's by working as a church youth director, performing magic shows, and teaching yoga under the direction of Swami Satchidanada at the Integral Yoga Institute. After earning a Master of Theological Studies, he ventured into the world of professional magic and mentalism (the illusion of mind reading). This led to a presentation he developed on "Mind Control and the Cults." The message is encapsulated in his book, Easily Fooled: New Insights and Techniques for Resisting Manipulation. Later, Fellows broadened his message to other topics and had a second career as a health and wellness educator. Finally, he was called to the ministry, and since 2009 has served as the pastor of Community Congregational Church (UCC) in Greenland, NH. He believes that healthy faith communities can learn about good boundaries from the study of spiritual abuse, and that boundary awareness can help us to identify manipulation and deception in groups rather than simply naming cults to avoid.
Maureen Griffo, MA, MEd, an ex-member of The Church of Bible Understanding as well as several fringe churches, is a board member of reFOCUS and also was one of four collaborators who established the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation. Ms. Griffo had moderated an online chat/support group for former members for many years. Currently she is spearheading the ICSA New York City Educational Initiative. She has a Master's in Sociology with a focus on cultic practices as well as a Master's in Education with a focus on special education. She works with children with severe emotional and developmental disabilities in New York City.
Stephen Martin, MDiv, is a co-founder of Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, established in 1986, and has served as a workshop leader there to help restore the lives of former members. An outgrowth of this work has been spiritual abuse education in the public arena, especially churches, in which Stephen has conducted more than 45 programs. He is author of the book The Heresy of Mind Control, which integrates the psychology of cults with Biblical insight as an educational and therapeutic tool, and he has co-authored two articles in ICSA publications. He is also a part-time pastor. Websites: Wellspring: http://wellspringretreat.org Steve’s book: http://recognizeheresy.com
Gillie Jenkinson, PhD, is an accredited counsellor and psychotherapist in UK and is experienced in delivering counselling face-to-face as well as on the telephone and Skype. She served two internships at Wellspring Retreat Center, Ohio, and has many years’ experience working with trauma, including survivors of spiritual and cult abuse, and sexual abuse. She has developed an approach to counselling former members - "Time Away for Post-Cult Counselling." Gillie was a member of an abusive Bible-based cult in the 1970’s. She is a regular presenter at conferences and a published author, including a co-authoring a chapter entitled "Pathological Spirituality" for a medical text book entitled Spirituality and Psychiatry, published by RCPsych Publications in UK - 2009. She is the Mental Health Editor for ICSA Today. Gillie’s doctoral research dissertation is entitled: ‘Freeing the authentic-self: Phases of Recovery and Growth from an Abusive Cult Experience’. Website: www.hopevalleycounselling.com Email: email@example.com Phone: +44 1433 639032
Judy Pardon, MEd, has been a teacher and a counselor. Since 1992, she has been Associate Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research (NEIRR) and MeadowHaven, where she has worked with former cult members, including some who have experienced profound trauma. She has also spoken widely on the subject and conducted training programs for human-service personnel. In 2014 Ms. Pardon received, with her husband Robert, ICSA's Herbert L. Rosedale Award.
Robert Pardon, MDiv, ThM, is the Executive Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research (NEIRR) and MeadowHaven. During the past 10 years he has specialized in Bible-based communal groups and aberrational Christian groups. He also consults with law enforcement regarding destructive groups, and gives expert witness testimony. Both he and his wife, Judy, speak nationally and internationally on cults. Much of his work involves counseling, leading support groups, working with those born or raised in groups, and helping former members rebuild their lives. To facilitate the recovery process, MeadowHaven, a long-term rehabilitation facility, was opened in 2002. MeadowHaven can accommodate individuals or families who require long-term (up to a year) care to recover from trauma and cultic abuse. In 2014, Rev. Pardon received, with his wife, Judy, ICSA’s Herbert L. Rosedale Award.
Larry Pile was a staff member and Director of Cult Education and Research for Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, initially of Albany, Ohio, and later of Athens, Ohio, from May 1988 to 2005. He is currently semi-retired, and conducts workshops for Wellspring as needed on a voluntary basis. His duties have included preparing and conducting workshops on a wide variety of spiritual and practical issues and topics designed to help people who have suffered abuse as members of high-control, destructive organizations and relationships, including spiritually abusive churches. The type of abuse suffered was always emotional and spiritual, often physical, sexual, and financial. The goal of the workshops is to help victims/survivors come to an understanding of what happened to them, how it happened to them, and how to move on with their lives. Larry has written for Wellspring’s newsletter and journal (now no longer published), as well as other periodicals. He has written an on-line book about Great Commission Association of Churches (Marching to Zion – accessible through www.gcmwarning.com) and a commentary on the biblical book of Galatians (Free at Last! The Message of Galatians for Survivors of Cults and Spiritual Abuse), geared toward survivors of abusive churches and other totalistic organizations and relationships. (The latter is soon to be published.)