© sbs.com.au
In churches, community halls and even living rooms, Satan and his army of fallen angels - or demons - are on the warpath. Or so exorcists would have us believe.

They say it's a supernatural battle between God and the Devil... all taking place within the body of a human.

"It's very real and people do get demonized and sometimes fully possessed," Pastor Maurice Chapman told The Feed. "They can't sleep at night. They have nightmares. Many feel actual physical attacks. There are scratches."

Pastor Chapman specialises in one-on one exorcisms. On the day he was interviewed, he was dealing with a particularly stubborn demon in Dermott, who had been undergoing deliverance for a week.

"I had depression and a bit of anxiety, but I had a lot of tiredness and memory loss and stuff and I said well you know, I'll give it a go and see what the Lord has to offer for me.


In the process, Dermott will go back through his life and try and identify things to confess, and receive forgiveness.

"Once that happens, we can tell those demons to take a big hike and go to wherever the lord wants to send them to," said Pastor Chapman, laughing. "Preferably to the pit."

Yul, 28, lives on the outskirts of Melbourne and is considered one of Pastor Chapman's success stories. He underwent deliverance three months ago to exorcise "the spirit of masturbation".

After following the sermons of the deliverance ministers, he started being plagued by guilt and decided to participate in an exorcism.

"You can get to a point where you hear voices. And this is very common. You hear voices that you need to kill yourself," said Yul.

He considered going to a psychologist, but since going through deliverance, the voices have stopped.

Academic Sarah Ferber is a skeptic, and points out a crucial difference between exorcism and therapy. She points to the case of Joan Vollmer, a Victorian woman who died as the result of strangulation during exorcism in 1994.

"An exorcist's first concern is to serve God," she told The Feed, "and only secondarily does it relate to the mental or emotional health of the person who they are interacting with."

Linda Chaniotis, from Adelaide, considers herself an exorcism survivor. Her parents were part of a fringe Pentecostal ministry that would meet in private homes.

"She was a very good baby, placid," her father Damien told The Feed. "At about the age of two she just changed overnight."

Linda recalls going through multiple exorcisms from the age of ten.

"They would have a bucket in front of me and they would tell me to cough, spit, vomit and I'd be very distressed," she said. "It made me feel like I had a contagious disease."

Linda was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy at the age of thirty, a condition which caused some of her 'demonic' symptoms as a child. She no longer has a relationship with her parents.

"I don't know how you can have a relationship with somebody who believes that you're cursed," she said. "I need to see myself as a person who is intrinsically good."