Has anyone started a support group for people leaving cults?

by Whynot 16 Replies latest jw friends

  • Whynot

    My husband and I have talked about starting a support group but we feel we don't have the proper qualifications. Has anyone started a support group for ex-jws? We even thought of hosting a social gathering or meet and greet. We would do this probably in a year from now or more.

    We keep hearing of DFd people getting hospitalized for anxiety, depression and attempted suicide. We know these people and want to reach out somehow.

    Any suggestions?

  • dubstepped

    As far as a formal support group with a specific process for helping people, I don't know of one. To me places like this, some Facebook groups, discussing sites about the various ex-jw media that's out there (youtube, podcasts, blogs, etc.), give people a place to find support. There are meetup groups in some cities where people go to the meetup website and then arrange to attend a group meeting. If a person needs serious help they should probably be in therapy of some kind. There are plenty of support groups for all of the issues mentioned, and they don't have to be specific to former JWs. There could be a former JW support group, but I'm not sure how it would be able to address all of the issues in the same group. I think there are usually specific groups for specific things in the world in general. Simply being an ex-JW may not be enough, you might have to have ones for each specific issue.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Diogenesister

    You most certainly do have the proper qualifications for a support group. You have experienced being in one^. A support group is simply that, people going through the same thing supporting each other.

  • Wild_Thing

    I have been wanting to start a support group in my area, too. I still want to.

    But my only concern is that I do not feel equipped to handle the emotional/psychological issues that often come along with leaving.

    If anybody else has started a successful face to face support group in their area, I would appreciate also hearing how you handled this issue. I think support groups are important and be a real success, if done right.

  • Still Totally ADD
    Still Totally ADD

    About six months ago Mrs. Totally and me saw the need to start a support group. We have about five of us, all with various cult backgrounds. We soon realized they all claim to be the true religion with a different name but all had the same M.O. as a cult. My advice is do a lot of research before starting one. Still Totally ADD

  • Diogenesister
    But my only concern is that I do not feel equipped to handle the emotional/psychological issues that often come along with leaving.

    Can I just say one of the major things you are already equipped and ready to do, that even people with bachelor degrees in psychology often are not, is validating the feelings of the cult survivor . So many people, experts in mental health included, don't "get" why exiting a high control religious group is so traumatic. Just being there, giving people the time and space to express how they feel is another thing support groups do.

    This forum is a support group, and a darn good one. However since as humans a lot of our communication is non verbal a face to face group definately would be more effective.

    I guess you perhaps feel at what point you need to be able to call in an expert is maybe a concern?

  • new boy
    new boy

    Staring a support group is quit easy.

  • new boy
    new boy

    I hosted the Ex Jehovah's Witness Meetup group in Portland Oregon for many years. Meetup.com is and excellent way to do this.

    No you don't need a PHD to want to help people who are guilt ridden or stuck between the JW world and the real world.

    Everyone needs support and your experience can help a lot of people.

    Meetup.com is an excellent way to organize this.

  • flipper

    Some of us who had been formally indoctrinated from birth in " group " situations in cults like the JW's might have an aversion to committing to a group situation that would require meetings, commitments and formalities. It's certainly not my favorite thing to do as I'm more of an individualist who enjoys one on one conversations in smaller informal gatherings.

    That being said- I think the Tahoe fest that about 25 to 40 of us do each year works because it is SO casual, there are no plans, no schedule, no formalities, just folks that are ex-JW's and some others getting together to support each other mentally, emotionally, or bolster each others spirit up through chatting informally about our past around a campfire, or not. There's no pressure on anybody to conform to any regiment, no expectations, just chillin' by the campfire eating, drinking, playing music, smoking, swimming, whatever each person wants to do. It's a relaxing time which I believe creates an environment for people opening up about their stresses- if that's what they want to do- but then again they don't have to open up if they don't want to- just hang out.

    Many have come these last 11 years from this board ( and a thanks to Simon for providing this board as a springboard for these people ) but also folks come from the Northern & Southern California, Oregon, Washington area that hear about the South Lake Tahoe gathering from Facebook and other outlets & word of mouth.

    We'll probably keep doing it in some form or fashion each year as long as people want to come and give & receive support and make friendships. There's nothing political or religious about the meetup, just laid back people getting together to share friendship. Peace out, Mr. Flipper

  • SAHS

    There is a fairly well-attended group referred to as the “Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses of Toronto” MeetUp group – https://www.meetup.com/oexjws/ – in the area of Toronto, Ontario (Canada). It is a completely relaxed atmosphere with no formal format. Spontaneity is its lifeblood. All are certainly welcome.

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