SPRING MINISTRIES’ VISION
Spring Ministries challenges oppression and injustice in the fields of sexual abuse and mental health by:
PREVALENCE OF SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse is far more widespread than society admits. Extensive research over the last 30 years consistently indicates that around 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are abused in childhood. Furthermore, 27% of women will be sexually assaulted in adulthood. The figures are higher in certain populations, such as psychiatric patients, addicts and the prison population.
IMPACT OF SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse leads a devastating legacy but because one of its central impacts is shame, people often do their best to hide both the cause and its effects. The most common impacts are:
ORGANISED OR RITUAL ABUSE
Spring Ministries’ specific expertise is the extreme end of the spectrum of sexual abuse, including ‘organised’ or ‘network’ abuse and ritual or satanic ritual abuse.
People with this background rarely present with a coherent narrative of their life
which includes such abuse. Instead they may present as high-
Alternatively survivors of extreme abuse may present with complex pastoral needs
which do not respond to ongoing support or prayer ministry — they may be ‘triggered’
by much of what takes place within a church setting, especially physical contact
with people, being the focus of attention, sacraments such as baptism and communion,
and symbols of the cross or references to blood. In many cases this is interpreted
as being a sign of some form of demonic oppression, and prayer ministry or deliverance
is attempted, only for the symptoms to deteriorate. Often the cause is in fact long
term, extreme, sadistic abuse during childhood which may in some cases have involved
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge around organised or ritual abuse can often lead to inappropriate support or help being offered. There is a forced dichotomy —this is either a spiritual issue or a psychological one. The reality is that it is both, and just as mental health professionals such as counsellors need to bear in mind the spiritual impact on survivors of such abuse, so too do churches need to have an awareness of the psychological impact. Trauma causes actual changes in the hardwiring of the brain which can take many years to repair. Support within a church context for the recovery process, including prayer as well as pastoral and practical support, can make all the difference to whether or not a trauma survivor becomes who God intended them to be.
Dissociation is a natural, God-
Dissociation produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity and means that they can struggle to identify with or even remember the abuse that they suffered. of being able to process it and work it through to healing, they may suffer amnesia for the events, and experience post traumatic stress and many other destabilising and devastating physical and emotional symptoms.
Dissociation is not a choice — it is an automatic process which kicks in outside of conscious awareness. In no way is it a sign of weakness, failure or poor choices.
DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER
Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a fairly common consequence of chronic childhood maltreatment, principally sexual or physical abuse which begins before the age of 3 and continues for many years. Research places its prevalence at between 1% and 3% of the general population — that is, between 650,000 and 1.85 million people in the UK. It develops as a survival strategy for overwhelming, repeated trauma in the context of a disturbed relationship between the child and his/her main caregiver (usually a parent).
DID is not about ‘multiple personalities’ — it is about surviving otherwise unendurable
trauma by segregating parts of the mind during abuse in order to survive both psychologically
and physically. The cost of such a creative coping mechanism, however, is long-
WHAT HELPS -
With the correct treatment, the prognosis for DID is good; in fact it is better than most other major mental health conditions.
What is helpful according to research is long-
What is not helpful is pressure to “get better” without dealing with the original, dissociated trauma; blaming or scapegoating the survivor; disbelief; a focus on the demonic; a premature emphasis on forgiveness; or any form of pressure, implied or otherwise, for a “quick fix”.
The most helpful support that can be offered to a trauma survivor is long-
HOW WE CAN HELP
We provide training and support to church leadership and pastoral teams on helping people recover from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
We run a training day from our base in Huntingdon called ‘Helping to Heal -
Please note that we do not advise on current child protection issues.
ABOUT SPRING MINISTRIES
As well as its own activities, Spring Ministries runs alongside two others projects
under the umbrella organisation START (Survivors Trauma and Abuse Recovery Trust,
registered charity number 1143737, www.start-
Carolyn is a freelance writer and trainer and has been published in a range of publications. She was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder several years ago, but prior to this she worked for many years within Children’s Social Care with abused children.
Rob has been married to Carolyn since 2001. He runs the PODS helpline and is training as a counsellor. His background is in secondary education, adult training and Children’s Social Care.