This is a site that may be of use to you.
Has anyone started a support group for people leaving cults?
Flipper, I have wanted to come to your Lake Tahoe fests for years! But you are quite a ways from the Mid-West and take more financial planning to get there. I hope you keep having them. They sound like a blast, and I have I can make it in the next year or so.
Meetups go a long way with healing. It is really the best meeting others with the same shared past. Many I've met still seek counseling for issues and advice, and it is best to see a counselor with experience in high control or cult religions. Most likely the counselor that specializes already has dealt with exJW's, and their issues are not unlike any other high control religion, orthodox Jews etc.
Anyone with serious issues needs to see a qualified physician or therapist. The success of meetups entirely depends on the people in the area, and their desire to meetup. Your mileage will vary.
We had a very vibrant group here about 10 years ago. Most have moved on, the conversation changes once you have sorted things out to a degree. I just spent an evening with Aude Sapere last week, she is one of the very first exJW's I met in person. We still have issues to sort, and appreciate the understanding ear of a fellow survivor.
With that being said, there was a very large turnout for Cedar's book signing, most I think were not on DB's, but but definitely informed with websites and youtube. I had a beach party one time and people came that I didn't know or engaged with on here, but they read the invitation and came. I also met many newly exited ones in Tahoe. They watched Eric's JW Struggle on youtube and just came not knowing anybody. Pretty amazing stories all of them.
My point, give it a shot! Post something in meetup and on boards. JWN used to be THE place for all things exJW, and I don't know if there are other places that people go to for information. Again, it just depends on the desire of those to want to meet. I wanted to meet people so I did, and it is great. Good luck!
Yes, contact other relevant support groups to draw upon their wisdom and experience. In a way you are right to reflect upon "qualifications" - insofar as people have often been significantly traumatized by their JW-related experiences, some to the point of expressing suicidality. It would be helpful for any support group to have a "policy" on how to respond to people who present with suicidal tendencies and quite frankly, unintentional damage can be done if suicidal people are exposed to unhelpful advice or treatment. You may know someone qualified in your community who could help you develop guidelines on helpful responses, including contact numbers of community mental health services or helplines. I am not meaning to suggest that any support group needs to be "qualified" on mental health issues - just that there needs to be a healthy awareness of alternative or parallel services for those who are distressed or exhibiting suicidal tendencies and perhaps "expecting" the support group to help them when that is better placed in the first instance in the hands of suitably qualified individuals and/or services.
I just read all the comments. I'm thinking of having a more laid back meet-up like the beach or happy hour maybe. I know a few people with experience handling support groups so I need to talk to them. I have much homework to do. Maybe even having some kind of fun activity at the park to start off and see how much interest there is.
I appreciate everyone's input and suggestions.
"I'm thinking of having a more laid back meet-up like the beach or happy hour maybe."
Yes that is what "meetup.com" is all about of course people should seek professional help when needed but this is just a good way to meet casually and perhaps meet new friends.
Since everyone need friends and most people who leaves the Jehovah's Witnesses losses all of theirs.....why not?