Episode 121

Best of 2022: Dr. Wade Mullen on Spiritual Abuse, Red Flags to Spot in How Churches Respond to an Image Threatening Event and What Silent Bystanders Say to Survivors

Dr. Wade Mullen is the author of Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse – and Freeing Yourself From Its Power.

Dr. Mullen is a world renowned expert on abuse in the church. He served ten years in pastoral ministry and then five years as a seminary M.Div. program director and assistant professor before transitioning to full-time research and writing, consulting, speaking, and advocacy. Wade earned a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies and completed a dissertation titled “Impression Management Strategies Used by Evangelical Organizations in the Wake of an Image-threatening Event.” You can get that dissertation for free here.

  • He founded Pellucid Consulting in the Fall of 2021 to provide consulting and independent assessment services for institutions.
  • He started a Substack Newsletter called Pellucid in the Fall of 2021 where I write about the ways in which deception is used to abuse and cover up abuse and how leaders and institutions can act with integrity and speak truthfully. The content is free, but there are also paid options for those who want to support my work.
  • He speaks on occasion at events related to the subject of abuse and institutional response and participates as a guest on podcasts. You can listen to the podcasts here.
  • He continues to engage in research efforts to better understand abuse within Christian cultures and institutions. I’m currently working on preparing a manuscript for a second book.
  • He has also been serving when needed as an institutional response specialist with GRACE since 2020, assisting them primarily with institutional assessments.

Wade's work in the local church first introduced him to the needs of abuse victims and the potential for institutional betrayal and trauma when those who are supposed to protect the victim(s) choose to protect the abuser(s). He also learned the challenge of advocating from within and how to confront the system when necessary. 

His personal story is told in a profile piece by Sojourner’s Magazine and in a talk he gave at the Restore conference in Chicago.

Resources Dr. Mullen mentioned:

  1. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership by Craig E. Johnson
  2. Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled by Jennifer Freyd
  3. Narcissm and the Systems it Breeds video of Dr. Diane Langberg's presentation
  4. When Narcissism Comes to Church by Dr. Chuck DeGroat
  5. A Church Called TOV by Dr. Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer
  6. Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church by Dr. Diane Langberg
  7. Suffering and the Heart of God by Dr. Diane Langberg
  8. Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity by Marie-France Hirigoyen
  9. The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans
  10. Is Nothing Sacred? The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused and the Church He Nearly Destroyed by Marie M. Fortune
  11. Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda by Susan Thomson

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A World of Difference
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About your host

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Lori Adams-Brown

Lori Adams-Brown is a combination of business executive, international speaker and podcast host of a top 5% global podcast, whose over 20 years of leading global teams has made her a strong and inclusive leader of teams who exceed expectations. As a former international relief & development leader, she has led diverse global teams in multiple cultures where she learned to speak six languages. Lori improves systems, motivates teams with relationship building, and achieves global results. She is a culture connoisseur and a people first global manager. Her happy place is sipping a flat white coffee while having a deep conversation and enjoying either a beach or mountain vacation with the love of her life, Jason, and their 3 teenagers.