How to help indoctrinated cult victims break free
Cults are fuelled by fear, shame and secrecy. Members are taught to set their sights on a future existence on a paradise earth or in heaven, and forced to give up all hopes of true joy or fulfilment in this life. They must resign themselves to boredom, drudgery and self-discipline, which is often accompanied by feelings of emptiness and dread. They are forced to fake a smile and to find the energy to put on a “positive face” in order to prove to outsiders that they are walking the “one, true path” to salvation.
The pressure to conform to external standards of behaviour when feeling dead inside can lead to inner conflict (known as “cognitive dissonance”), stress and depression. Terrorized by the threat of losing their loved ones and social community, being destroyed at Armageddon or losing their salvation, cult members often behave on “automatic pilot”. Like brainless robots, they go through the motions of life, trying desperately to ignore the questions and doubts that sometimes pop up into their minds. They make a massive effort to push them down again, to re-convince themselves that their life is not based on a lie, that all their hard work and sacrifice have not been a useless waste.
I’ve met some active cult members who have literally given up everything for their Group: a decent education, the prospect of having children or following their dreams, a career, retirement fund, or a relationship with their non-cult family members… the list goes on and on. They turned their backs on all this to serve their Organization full time.
Therefore, when they are faced with someone who challenges their beliefs, the need to justify and defend their life choices is overwhelming. That is why talking to indoctrinated robots can be like banging your head against a thick, heavy wall…
In addition, when we speak to people, they do not generally react to the words we say, but the emotion behind them. If we express ourselves in anger, frustration, bitterness or with words laced with ridicule and contempt, we alienate our listeners, causing them to shut their ears, turn away, or fight back defensively. Thus, it’s possible to push them even further from us, and make them more closed to our well-researched arguments.
That doesn’t mean however that there is nothing we can do to help cult victims from breaking free, or that we are powerless in our quest. There are tried and tested ways to achieve this, based on intelligent and compassionate efforts by families and friends who want to rescue their loved ones. If you are interested in learning more about this, I would highly recommend Steven Hassan‘s books, particularly “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs”.
Ex-cult members who are keen to expose the Group’s corruption and destructive impact on human lives need to think strategically, using all the means of communication, resources and platforms available. I know of one ex-Jehovah’s Witness family of seven members who all woke up because the father listened to a radio show on the way to work, which mentioned the Royal Australian Commission into child sexual abuse. He was so shocked to discover that his beloved Organization was harbouring and protecting paedophiles, that he started to do his own research, and was eventually able to convince his whole family to leave.
Reading something in a respected newspaper, watching a TV show or listening to a news report on the radio about their cult is one way that could get indoctrinated people thinking critically, but only if they are ready to. In the FB Group “Faith after Deception Fellowship”, someone recently asked the question: “Why didn’t we wake up sooner?” and the most common answer was: “I wasn’t emotionally or psychologically prepared to do so beforehand”.
So, the question is: how can we help Cult victims to open their hearts to the ugly truth about the truth of their Organization? Renowned cult expert, Steven Hassan offers a three pronged approach:
- Build trust with the person. If they don’t trust you or feel they can confide in you, they will never listen to you.
- Ask them searching questions that they can go away and investigate, rather than feeding them answers. If they refuse to respond to you, at least you have planted a small seed of doubt in their minds.
- Help them to get better acquainted with other cults. Many people are now becoming aware that they are in a toxic group after watching Leah Rimini’s brave exposé of Scientology. When indoctrinated people see how Mind Control is used in other Groups, they are faced with the uneasy reality that they are being manipulated in the same way.
If you think it would be appropriate, you could even ask the cult member to answer these 25 questions to find out if they are in a cult.
They also need to know that if they leave, they can count on you. The fear of loneliness and social isolation means that people inside cults remain there far too long, even after they’ve woken up. Ex-members and concerned family and friends need to provide strong and lasting friendships with those who are seeking to escape, to support them on their long and difficult journey out.
It's funny you know when I was at my most angry and confused after waking up I hardly ever saw another witness out and about. I'm so glad I didn't because I didn't have a clue how to handle it. Running into someone from the cong would trigger my own newspeak cult reponse and I would feel like I was going backwards.
Now I don't give a shit if I see someone I see them all the time. I just say hi and do not say anything about the borg unless they bring it up. I find a combination of indifference to their cult and being happy, confident and non-apologetic about your new life is very baffling to them.
I've read your posts and think your emphasis elsewhere on promoting your written work and Christianity is off-putting.
The last thing people in cults need is someone promoting alternative beliefs.
I found your post, and list of questions very informative... thank you. I am not interested in religion or Bible anymore, but do respect where you’re coming from.
Yes you are welcome here faith and deception. Just beware of the narcissists on here who are so much involved with themselves they are unable to see that it takes beliefs to have any kind of mental concepts at all!
Excellent op. Thanks for sharing!
Great information. Right on point. Thanks for sharing.
Those with religious beliefs: Not focused on themselves - therefore not liable to allegations of being narcissists.
Those who do not have religious beliefs: Focused on themselves and liable to attract allegations of being narcissists.
In terms of “type” of argument advanced by Ruby: Classic ad hominem (i.e., don’t bother to address the issue under consideration - attack the individuals who raise the issue) .
Where have we heard that approach before? Ah, yes: JW organization’s approach to “addressing” issues raised by apostates.
The Apple does not fall far from the tree.
This is a place where we work hard to distance ourselves from religious pie in the sky.
So no, you are not welcome here by everyone, just a few religiously inclined...... our religious simpletons who are happy to see you.
Faith and belief in a god that can drown a world because he threw a hissy fit and all those wicked people (children as well) like the unborn........ had to drown? If that's your god...... Most of us are not buying into that BS.
Are you promoting the God of abortionists? The God that commanded Israel in the OT to murder everyone......... including babies, wives and any non born in their hunt for virgins.
Lets get real sister Faith and Deception...... you contribute to the religious chaos because you deny humanity their place.
Your message is old and corrupted. Believe......but you can't trust this concept of god.
Most of us are long gone from the religious bull shit you presented.
What are we interested in? How to bring the WTBTS down. And every other representation from the Silent God that doesn't exist. That includes you.
I prefer to accept people on their own terms and hear what they have to say for themselves. After all we don,t want to live in a room of mirrors after closing all the doors and pulling down the shutters do we?