“Abuse is the misuse of power. Whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or spiritual it is always about the wrongful use of power and authority. Power is used by an individual to control, manipulate and/or use another. The result for the victim is damage. It may be physical harm, emotional harm, sexual harm, spiritual harm or a combination of those. Abuse is always about those with power or authority using their power or authority wrongfully in order to compensate for their fears, hurts and insecurities.
Although abuse is always wrong, in some cases it is more gravely wrong – especially in those cases where a sacred trust is betrayed, such as between a parent and a child or a spiritual leader and a disciple. It is not only wrong because of the misuse of authority and immediate harm to the victim, but it is deeply wrong because basically it is betrayal. It is betrayal of the child, or the follower, who by the very nature of the relationship is usually very trusting and somewhat dependent on the one with power. In such cases the long-term effects of betrayal can, in fact, be ruinous to the overall mental and spiritual health of victims for the rest of their lives if healing is not found. Subsequent relationships with friends, loved ones and potential friends and loved ones can often fail ever to reach the true potential of love and trust. This betrayal and hurt can rob the victim of the freedom of trusting and choosing to be vulnerable again.”
Quoted from Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual Abuse by Marc A. Dupont