AN author from St Bees has penned a book delving into what she describes as the 'spiritual and political abuse' of women within Catholicism.

Debra Maria Flint has written ‘No Place for a Woman: The Spiritual and Political Power Abuse of Women within Catholicism’ which was published in the US by Lantern Publishing and Media on March 19 and will be published world-wide on April 25.

When explaining what 'spiritual abuse' is, Ms Flint uses the definition of another writer, Lisa Oakley, who states that: "Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is characterised by a systematic pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in a religious context.

"This abuse may include: manipulation and exploitation, enforced accountability, censorship of decision-making, the requirement of secrecy and silence, coercion to conform, control through the use of sacred texts or teaching, the requirement of obedience to the abuser, the suggestion that the abuser has a 'divine' position, isolation as a means of punishment, and superiority and elitism."

Within the book, Ms Flint explores the 'spiritual and political power abuse of women' throughout the history of the Catholic Church and examines the experience of women within the church today.

Ms Flint claims that she is herself a 'victim of spiritual abuse' within the Church. This occurred at a time when she was gravely ill, she said. She tried to make a complaint about her experience and wrote several letters to Church authorities and to the Pope himself.

She said: "I could find no way to have my concerns examined by an impartial person within the Church.

"After my recovery, I decided to research into the history of the abuse of women within Catholicism."

Ms Flint left the Catholic church following her experience and is now an ordained deacon with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church.