#154 – Episode 154 – Religious Abuse, Addiction and the LGBTQ+ Community with Dr. Jamie Marich


In this continuing series on the relationship between religious abuse and addiction. Veronica talks to Dr. Jamie Marich about how the LGBTQ+ community has been affected by religious abuse.

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What This Episode Is About

No one can dispute the fact that the LGBTQ+ community has been abused by the religious community.

And the problem is not unique to a specific religion, or even religion at all.

The same themes of spiritual wounding seem to show up all over the place from Evangelical Christians to 12-step communities to yoga and meditation communities, and beyond.

Dr. Jamie Marich joins me for her second visit to the podcast to share their insights and experiences with how the LGBTQ+ community has been affected by religious abuse.

Jamie is a wealth of knowledge and one of the world’s leading experts in trauma, EMDR therapy, addiction, and mindfulness and she has written extensively about the relationship between religious abuse and addiction, and how that affects the LGBTQ+ community.

I think that if you’ve experienced a religious upbringing and you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, or know someone who has been affected by spiritual trauma, you’ll find this conversation with Dr. Jamie Marich very interesting.


Whenever there’s a spiritual concept and a power differential, you have the potential for spiritual trauma to happen.

Where LGBTQ+ folks are especially vulnerable is with the problem of othering.

“When we see people who challenge the norm of what church is supposed to look like, what the family of God is supposed to look like, they become easy targets to bully.” – Dr. Jamie Marich

That othering shows up in the wounding they carry around.

In Jamie’s experience, a lot of the wounding for bisexual or pansexual folks is that they don’t exist.​​ It runs so deeply that the statistics show that their struggle with depression, substance abuse, and suicidal attempts is higher than people who identify as gay or lesbian.

For transgender people, a lot of the wounding can come from the messaging that “God made you this way so you just have to accept it”, with the focus being on natal sex and no acknowledgment that God made other things about you true too. There’s an added layer of “otherness” that’s often applied when religious people interact with trans people and that usually results in them having some of the most horrible experiences with religious abuse.

For members of the LGBTQ+ community who were raised in a very devout home, it’s not uncommon to have grown up constantly hearing some version of the rhetoric that you’re a sinner or an abomination and you’re going to Hell. And whether formally or not, it’s usually accompanied with trying to “pray the gay away”.

These experiences, whether overt or implicit, are incredibly damaging.

We’re all born with a need for attachment and a need for authenticity. Unfortunately, we often have to sacrifice our authenticity to maintain our attachment to our family of origin.

“I knew what I was but I very much felt like it was something I had to hide or I was going to lose everybody I’d ever loved and everything I’d ever known.” – Dr. Jamie Marich

Growing up very conservative, Jamie knew who she was as a teenager but spent many years trying to play the conservative “good girl” role that was expected of her. They interpreted their addiction as a “falling away from God” and turned to the church in their recovery.

Years later they reached a turning point after hearing a keynote from addiction speaker, Robert Ackerman about the importance of authenticity and why you can’t thrive with parts of yourself hidden. It was that experience that led to her fully coming out in every area of her life.

“Substance abuse grows in the tension between authenticity and attachment.” – Veronica Valli

Resolving that internal conflict is a process.

At almost 19 years sober, Jamie has learned an important less: the more authenticity I can claim, the healthier I am.

Know that you don’t have to be alone in this. Find safe spaces to support you in your sobriety journey, whether that’s a local 12-step LGBTQ+ group or another recovery resource like She Recovers.

At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself, especially if your sobriety is on the line.

It may take baby steps to get there but once you start to taste the freedom of authenticity, you’re going to want more.


About Dr. Jamie Marich

Dr. Jamie Marich (she/they) travels internationally speaking on topics related to EMDR therapy, trauma, addiction, expressive arts and mindfulness while maintaining a private practice and online education operations, the Institute for Creative Mindfulness, in her home base of Warren, OH. Jamie is the author of numerous books, including the popular EMDR Made Simple, Trauma Made Simple, and Process Not Perfection. She is the co-author of EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, and Healing Addiction with EMDR Therapy: A Trauma-Focused Guide (out later this year from Springer Publishing Company). North Atlantic Books published a revised and expanded edition of Trauma and the 12 Steps in the Summer of 2020, and they are also publishing The Healing Power of Jiu-Jitsu: A Guide to Transforming Trauma and Facilitating Recovery and Dissociation Made Simple (both due out in 2022). Jamie is a woman living unapologetically in long-term recovery from addiction and with a Dissociative Disorder, and this forms the basis of her award-winning passion for advocacy in the mental health field.

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