Tag Archives: cult victims

Common Misconceptions about Victims of Cult or Spiritual Abuse

28 Feb
A List of Common Misconceptions about Victims of Cult or Spiritual Abuse:
– They are crazy, exagerrating or alternately, the need psychological help or medication to get back to normal
However, “For those with pre-existing emotional problems cultic involvement may produce dissociation, inability to think or concentrate, psychosis, hallucinations, or extreme suggestibility. Yet the intense structure of cultic life frequently leads the emotionally unstable to view cults as havens. The strict regime and lifestyle provided by the cult can give them the external structure and controls that they lack within themselves. “*1 (Paul R. Martin)
– They did something to deserve what happened (Cult members are victims, who enter into groups under sophisticated tactics of coercion, deceit, and mind control. Cult members join after being preyed upon, and are not given information or facts needed to make a rational decision; even when leaving the group they may never fully understand what has happened.)
– They are on drugs (I hear this alot, and in many cases it seems to excuse the abuse or demonize the victim while elevating the cult leader to a mythic or heroic status. Those with a history of addiction are especially vulnerable but do not make up the majority of cult members. Drugs and alcohol can be used by the cult as a way to control it’s members, the victim is not always aware they are being given these substances or, may become hooked after being forced into taking them. )
– They will “snap out of it” or suddenly return to normal
– There is a certain type of person who becomes a victim to cult or spiritual abuse (this can’t happen to me, or would never happen to me)
-They came from a background or abuse or trauma
-They are wanting attention or love so they invent stories or attract trouble
-Brainwashing only involves torture, death threats and being locked in a dark room (Mind control techniques involve the use of emotion, and often distorting details of a member’s personal history or beliefs. The process may start out very subtle or just be a curiosity that then increases in intensity over time.
“The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis discusses the use of emotions, and detaching from rational thought, as one of the tactics the demons use when attacking people and leading them astray.)
-People with strong faith, strong stamina don’t get involved in cults or, alternately, Bible verses and preaching will cause the victim to snap out of it (Through the exercise of psychosocial forces more subtle than those described above, people can be deliberately manipulated, influenced, and controlled to a considerable degree, and induced to express beliefs and exhibit behaviors far different from what their lives up to then would have logically or reasonably predicted.**2 Louis Jolyon West & Paul R. Martin)
-Cults don’t talk about “god” or quote the Bible (Cults are adept at twisting information, even using religious texts and appearing to be part of a religion)
-Smart or educated people don’t get involved in cults/You should have known better
Cults or abusive religious groups target people of any age, any background, and any level of education. Cults use manipulative mind control and emotionally triggering techniques that can draw anyone into their organization, and make them vulnerable to indoctrination. People do not willingly join cults (in the same way people do not willingly enter into abusive relationships)– they are recruited or exploited, and often find themselves trapped so that it is extremely difficult to leave. Cult members are victims and need love, understanding and support so they can leave the cult and begin the healing needed to restore their lives.
**1 “Dispelling the Myths”, Dr. Paul R. Martin http://wellspringretreat.org/resources/index.php?item=1&page=22
“Exploding the Myths”, Ian Haworth, General Secretary, Cult Information Centre http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/article_cult-concerns.html
**2″Pseudo-Identity and the Treatment of Personality Change in Victims of Captivity and Cults”,
Dr. Louis Jolyon West & Dr. Paul R. Martin http://www.earthops.org/cult/dissociation1.html
The Yeast of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors“, Edward J.

When Life Changed

25 Feb

In Feb., the unthinkable happened–my beautiful, vivacious sister and best friend left her life behind to join a cult masquerading as a “christian” organization. In a matter of hours, her personality had completely changed. Her values and relationships no longer were about the things that once mattered in her life but now were in allegiance with the cult and joining it’s way of life. She did not even look like herself–her eyes were huge and her face was blank, everything she said was defending this cult. Every day since then has been a nightmare. I am afraid for my friend, who  desperately needs help. I pray for her safe return.

The day began like any other. She texted me around 9 am to say good morning and ask how the baby was. She sent me a beautiful Bible verse, and we joked around. I had a light work day so we planned to meet later. She had gifts for us. We were thinking about having dinner and looked forward to a fun weekend together.

At 2:45 pm, she texted me to say she was meeting at a boarded up church at in a bad part of St. Paul. She expressed fear of Bill in that past but that was overcome with prayer at the House, where she was told that something was wrong with her–and that her fears were a sign of demons working in her life not based on real concerns. Over a course of weeks, she visited the House where she underwent extensive psychological pressure and prayer in which she revealed her financial situation, sensitive details of her life and her beliefs. This information was then used to control and brainwash her.

I could see my beloved friend was going down hill after going to the House–she was tearful and having vivid flashbacks of horrible past memories (and told she was a sinner and did something to cause these things to happen–a lie) , she gave all her money to the point she could not buy food or gas, she was getting lost in familiar places, she was tearful, she was having nightmares and became sleep deprived, and she was questioning everything about her life to the point she could not make a simple decision on her own. I was terrified but could not  stop her from going to the House–she was convinced her life depended on being part of this ministry, and that they were doing “god’s” will.

She never made it to dinner, and over a course of hours I lost contact with her. By 9 pm, I was seriously worried. I could feel–as only a sister can–that something was wrong. It was not like her to go this long without talking to me, and she was so excited to see me…and then nothing. I called the House, spoke to John, and could tell he was lying about her whereabouts when I asked. I texted everybody I knew, explained what was happening and raced down to the church.

NO godly minister meets with a vulnerable woman alone in a boarded up church, and especially late into the night. When I got to the church, I pounded on the door, honked my horn and yelled into the mailbox slot–no response. Out of the darkness, a suspicious Black man came walking up with a pizza, said he was a friend of Bill, and began questioning. I was immediately suspicious when he asked if I was married–I grew up in the city and know where these type of questions lead. I frantically called her, and told her she better come out, everyone knows where she is, and if I don’t see her I am calling 911. Soon after, Bill drove up  in his Black Mercedes.  Bill was smirking at me and seemed to want to provoke a reaction. I was scared, upset and yelled at Bill and told him he “is not right” and “no minister meets with a woman alone at night”. She was making excuses for Bill and seemed totally unconcerned with her bizarre behavior.

By the end of the night, I called the police to do a safety check. Bill was attempting to speak for her, and had his hand on her arm like he was controlling her. She was totally focused on defending Bill and nothing she said made sense. It was like my friend had turned into a stranger–and I was forced to leave her behind. At midnight, she disconnected her phone number and since then cut off contact with her friends and home church. I am very afraid for her safety and well-being.

BFF if you are reading this– I love you. Please come home. No matter what happened, it will be okay. I am your sister and will always be here for you.

Her last words to me–
 Im here with him (Bill). He ran to get something and will be right back. God is working and its strange i dont feel threatened by this weirdly uncomfortable yet comfortable man? …Its weird. He is very intense use to be a bad man and he understands my past and doesn’t judge and is truly wacked like the rest of us! I am asking for prayer for us both, U can come here in the daylight or I can meet you two later, up to you. The guy lives outta his trunk like we do! Super scattered and been abused and said I didn’t need to be baptized in the spirit or slain the spirit or deliverance God has called each of us and sometimes we have to lose everything to gain new life
Most cults can recruit and control a person in a matter of three or four days…

..a potential recruit broken down (is) physically and mentally and made highly vulnerable to suggestion. This pressure usually continues to a breaking point referred to as ‘snapping’ by Conway and Siegelman (Conway & Siegelman, Snapping. New York: Delta Books, l979). After snapping, the subject is left in a state of hyper suggestibility where the critical ability is severely impaired. Simultaneously there is usually a sudden personality change, a change for the worse.

It is this change of personality and the relative inability of the subject to critically evaluate, that provokes family and friends of the average victim to react. Unless they are given some guidance in how to cope, the cult member will rapidly become more and more alienated from them….”Cult Concerns and their Harmful Methods in the UK: http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/article_cult-concerns.html

UPDATE: Molly has decided to remain with the religious group. After just a few days, she announced she is going to marry Bill. I have since lost all contact with her. And will continue to pray for her.