Dear Lee Week 64 – Friday
This is my blog today for Freeminds. Thaoulgt I would post it here for you too.
That “C” word – CULT
In one way this amazes me. That people are so afraid of labelling the Watchtower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses as a cult. But then again I know how difficult it is for anyone to label themselves as a victim. I saw that clearly while working with survivors of sexual abuse and abused wives. We don’t want to acknowledge that it was as bad as it was. We don’t want to feel as helpless as we do while we are in the situation. We don’t like to acknowledge that we were helpless in that situation. There was nothing we could do to change anything because we had already tried everything we could think of to make things better.
Putting a name on something; calling it what it is changes one thing – how we see the problem. It doesn’t change anything about the other side of the problem. It doesn’t change the control they want to take from us. It doesn’t change the power they have over the lives of other people in the same situation.
It changes how we see the problem. It helps us acknowledge the level of abuse we were under. It helps us see the problem from a different perspective. And hopefully it allows us to see that there was nothing we could do to change them. We have to focus on changing ourselves.
Me. I have power over me. I can choose to allow others to control me, manipulate me, or abuse me. Or I can choose to stop it. But I can’t stop it if I don’t see it for what it is. Cults abuse people in some of the most severe ways possible. What they do to our bodies is nothing compared to what they do to our minds and yes our soul - that inner part of us that knows something is terribly wrong. We have no power to fix it until we see it as a problem.
When I was married the first time to the Witness, I told him if he ever hit me I would be gone. In my mind abuse was physical. It required that he hit me. But what I didn’t see was that abuse also included things people say to threaten us into submission. I didn’t see that being treated as stupid or lesser than him was also abuse. I didn’t see him sitting in front of me waving the Bible so he could get his sexual needs taken care of was sexual abuse. I didn’t have the words to describe what was happening to me or the words to label it for what it was – spiritual and sexual abuse.
But once I did see that I knew I had to get out. Whether the abuser is one person, a parent or a spouse or a boss (I’ve had a few of those too), or whether it is a religion or organization like the Watchtower Society what they do to us is still abuse. Once we can put the label on it, call it what it is then we can take back our power and choose something else. We can then choose to leave and find something different or even better.
But we do have to be careful. Anyone who has been abused in one way or another and who hasn’t dealt with that abuse is at a higher risk than the rest of the population of betting into another abusive relationship. So we might bounce from an abusive cult to an abusive spouse or boss and keep bouncing from one abuse to another until we learn to call it what it is and get help.
Getting help might be as simple as finding other people to talk to who have been through the same thing or it might be self-help or even getting therapy. But we do have to deal with it. Only then can we really be free.