About Us

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.

Advisory Board

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: arthur@arthurbuchman.com 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: ron@ronburksphd.com Phone: (850) 431-3463

Rev. Dr. Neil Damgaard, ThM, DMin, is originally from the Washington D.C. area. A graduate of Virginia Tech (B.S. in industrial engineering and operations research), he worked for the U.S. Navy under contract as a management engineering consultant. After entering the ministry in 1976 he later graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a four-year Master's of Theology degree in historical theology, and served on staff at churches in Virginia and Texas and then as Senior Pastor of the Dartmouth Bible Church in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts from 1983 until 2019. With an interest in students and young adults and long experience with them, Pastor Neil also served as Protestant Chaplain with the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, 2007-2019. He also earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2008 from Dallas Theological Seminary. Neil holds an endless fascination with history, culture, architecture, music, and film. He has authored two books, A History of Dartmouth Bible Church, 1963-2013 (2013 with Westbow Press) and Defiance at Cairo (2020 with Book Baby). He is the editor of ICSA’s Wounded Faith: Understanding and Healing From Spiritual Abuse. Now retired, he lives in Roanoke, Virginia and has been married to Renée (a retired public school high school math teacher) since 1975. Together they have raised two daughters: Jocelyn, a mechanical engineer and intellectual property focal for Boeing Aircraft and a wife and mother of two, living in Denver. Susanna, a graduate of Messiah College and Yale University, is a registered nurse in Los Angeles, California.

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: info@dallascult.com 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.

Rev. Kenneth Garrett, MDiv., DMin, is senior pastor of Grace Church, Portland, OR. For 12 years Ken and his wife Sharon belonged to an abusive, controlling church in which their life-choices, beliefs, and behaviors were increasingly brought under the control of church leaders. Ken and Sharon left the church in 1996 with their three daughters. Ken attended seminary and has completed post-graduate research in spiritual abuse as it occurs in Christian churches. Ken and Sharon now enjoy many opportunities to counsel and care for survivors of abusive churches from the Portland-metro area and have established the Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education (SAFE), a regular gathering to promote friendship and education for survivors of spiritual abuse. Ken's is the author of In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing from Spiritual Abuse in the Christian Church, (Wipf and Stock Press, 2020), and is a contributing author of Wounded Faith: Understanding and Healing From Spiritual Abuse (International Cultic Studies Association, 2022).

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: info@hopevalleycounselling.com Phone: +44 1433 639032

Patrick J. Knapp, PhD, completed an MA (Philosophy of Religion) from Denver Seminary (Winter, 2000). His MA thesis was titled “The Place of Mind Control in the Cult Recovery Process.” His doctoral studies focused on marriage and family systems and attachment with his PhD (Pastoral Psychology) thesis at Graduate Theological Foundation “A Survey of Religious Abuse and Recovery.” He and his wife (Heidi I. Knapp) co-direct Becoming Free, LLC (www.BecomingFree.org). Their organization facilitates educational support for all those who have been religiously abused. As a life-recovery coach for over 35 years Pat has assisted people to process harmful spiritual experiences for improved insight and emotional healing. He and his wife (Heidi) provide HIPAA compliant video internet and in-person life coaching both for former members as well as friends and family affected by religious or spiritual abuse. In 2017 he contributed a chapter on support groups in Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working with Former Members and Families (Goldberg, L. et al, 2017). His first full book publication was Understanding Religious Abuse and Recovery: Discovering Essential Principles for Hope and Healing (Pickwick Publications, 2021). In this book he evaluates various perspectives of religious abuse recovery and introduces a new perspective (SECURE), a synthesis model that incorporates family systems and attachment theory as understood within a Christian worldview. His most recent publishing efforts are found in ICSA’s recently released book. Wounded Faith: Understanding and healing from spiritual abuse, chapter 4: Stages of Recovery and chapter 9: Marital Damage and Recovery Following Religious Abuse (co-authored with his spouse, Heidi I. Knapp)

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.