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re·li·gion - noun; the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. "ideas about the relationship between science and religion" - synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed; a particular system of faith and worship.


rit·u·al - noun 1. a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. "the ancient rituals of Christian worship" - adjective 1. of, relating to, or done as a religious or solemn rite. "ritual burial".  


a·buse - verb 1. use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse. "the judge abused his power by imposing the fines" synonyms: misuse, misapply, misemploy 2. treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. "riders who abuse their horses should be prosecuted" synonyms: mistreat, maltreat, ill-treat, treat badly - noun 1. the improper use of something. "alcohol abuse" synonyms: misuse, misapplication, misemployment 2. cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal. "a black eye and other signs of physical abuse" synonyms: mistreatment, maltreatment, ill-treatment


There is one thing which separates religious ritual abuse and abuse.  The actual ritual itself. Everything which is incorporated into the abuse under the umbrella of this definition, is based on a theology from Christianity to Islam to Judaism to Transcendental Meditation.  Spanking is a basic example.  While it is justified by a theology, scientifically, it is proven to cause skeletal damage to the developing body of a child.  Lengthy trance states repeatedly indoctrinated into small children can hinder their ability to develop critical thinking.  In extreme cases, child marriage and faith healing resulting in death are a part of these types of abuses.


The above definitions are basic applications.  These root definitions cannot be changed to suit whoever’s situation doesn't want to be classified beneath the definition of religious abuse.  This is a different circumstance than say, the victim of an alcoholic or generally abusive parent wherein there is no justification based on theology.


The basic definition of ritual abuse is an extreme, sadistic form of abuse of children and non-consenting adults using methodical, systematic forms of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse.  Ritual  includes brainwashing through requirements that certain rules/rituals be adhered to on a daily basis or incorporated into one's life.


Many groups include worship/ritual into their system. It is up to you and your understanding of yourself and the law in regards to child safety, to decide whether believing in their theology and ritual is or is not abusive to you and/or your family.