Breaking Free of the Cult
One of the most important but also one of the most difficult steps that a survivor of generational cult abuse can make is the decision to leave the group that they were raised in.
Those who are naive, or don’t understand the nature of being raised in a group may wonder, “Why would it be hard to leave abusers? Wouldn’t a person WANT to get away?” The reality is a little more complicated, and my hope is that this article will help both survivors, therapists, and support people as well as those who wish to understand ritual abuse have a better idea of the issues that survivors getting out face, as well as some helpful ideas on safety.
BARRIERS TO GETTING OUT:
I want to address these first. This is not to be discouraging, but to help identify the issues involved. If a person understands the obstacles to leaving, they can then begin developing a plan to overcome these problems.
Paramount is PERSONAL SAFETY. Threats against those who try to leave are real, and the person has been conditioned by witnessing the punishment of those who have tried to leave (see my article on how the cult programs people for more info); or even punishment for questioning the group or its leader. The psychological intimidation of a lifetime is real, and the person must be assured of physical safety before they will consider leaving a group that could literally brutally punish them (or worse) for attempting to leave.
It is very, very difficult to consider leaving, or worse yet, to discuss leaving in therapy, then have reporter alters “telling on” the person to the group leaders. This happened to me in San Diego, and the results were devastating. My inside parts who wanted to get out, who were working hard in therapy, were being physically brutalized at night to punish them for talking and remembering. This created a great deal of what therapists call “intrasystem conflict” , to put it mildly. Some parts became hostile at other parts who wanted to leave, and they began punishing them as well. In addition, suicide commands were put in by the head trainer.
The reality is that if a person truly wants to break free, they may become “expendable” in the eyes of the cult, or considered a security risk, and will often be told to suicide. In breaking free, a survivor and their support system needs to be aware of these realities. To not be aware that this is/could be happening will cause therapy to be sabotaged.
Even if the person finds physical safety, other issues need to be addressed as well.
One is ISOLATION. Often in transgenerational groups, the survivor’s entire family of origin, as well as their closest friends, and spouse will be part of the group (the Illuminati arrange almost 100% of their marriages, I have never personally known of a person in the group whose spouse was not also involved, as well as the children.) These members of the immediate family will be the ones most likely to reaccess the survivor. I will give a personal example, again.
When I lived in San Diego, I was in therapy for DID. All that I remembered at the time was a period of three years of ritual abuse with my father and his mother. I thought my mother “rescued” me from him when she divorced him. But my therapy was at a standstill. The more I remembered, the WORSE I became, and decompensated. I would go to therapy, talk, try to help my inside people, then would feel immense panic and fear, as well as suicidal urges afterwards.
It wasn’t until later that I learned that my mother was my cult trainer the first five years of my life; that my husband was taking me back to cult meetings where I was severely punished and programmed to NOT tell in therapy. Once I had physical safety, and broke off contact with cult members, I immediately began stabilizing psychologically. But the price was high. My husband divorced me when I told him I remembered; I told him his cult name, mine and the children’s, thinking he, too would want to get out. Instead, I lost custody of my two children in a long and expensive court battle with a justice system whose attitude was that ritual abuse was a delusion. (Fortunately, 1 1/2 years ago, my ex decided to leave the group, in part because of seeing me alive and well and working full time; and I now have full custody of my children, who are doing well in therapy).
I am sharing this to help people be aware that the price of leaving a transgenerational group may include (although each situation is different):
giving up contact with members of family of origin
giving up contact with close friends (the survivor has often been surrounded by cult members in their social group, including at church; my five closest friends were all members of the Illuminati and I had no idea). Often “cult twins” are best friends in day time life
learning that a spouse and children are all members
The enormous psychological pain of giving up these relationships will often make it difficult for the survivor, but if they continue in them, the chances of being reaccessed are great. MOST REACCESSING OF THE SURVIVOR COMES FROM MEMBERS OF THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY. This is one of the hardest tasks for the survivor to attempt as he or she learns good boundaries. What those boundaries need to be will differ from person to person, and their individual situation.
Another real, and powerful pull back to the cult, will come from the perception that NEEDS inside the person are being met by the group. The person will likely be dissociative, if they have been raised in a transgenerational group, and they will often have alters inside who have never known or experienced the abuse, who will be considered “high alters” inside.These part’s reality is that they were praised and told that they were special, often unaware or not caring that other alters inside endured the abuse. These higher alters may identify strongly with their perps and are often the alters that want recontact with the group and help drive internal recontact programming.
Frequently, when a person leaves a cult group, there is a real period of grieving. Social relations have been changed. Alters with special needs will feel that their needs are no longer being met, whether for belonging, for sexual activity, for power, or other personal agendas. The survivor needs to recognize this reality. A person will often unconsciously recontact a group if they believe that deep needs are being met by this group. Teaching themselves to meet their needs in a healthy and appropriate way will take time and patience, working with a qualified safe therapist who understands ritual abuse.
There may be PROGRAMMING to recontact the group. The survivor will need to identify if this is present, and take steps with the help of their therapist and support system to deactivate it.
IDEAS ON BREAKING FREE
While breaking free can be difficult, as I have discussed above, it is possible to escape a cult group and maintain personal safety. I will share from both my personal experience and that of other survivors things which have proven helpful in breaking free.
1. Safe outside accountability:
If the person attempting to break free can live with someone who is NOT a member of the group, who is a safe person, that will increase their own personal safety exponentially. Cult members from groups such as the Illuminati will hesitate to harrass or try to access someone while they are with a safe person, one who is not dissociative. One of the most dangerous set ups is when a survivor is living alone, or in isolation, or if they talk long walks at night or in areas where there are no people around. Abductions, kidnappings, or reaccessing may occur in these situations. The more safe outside accountability the survivor sets up, the less chance that this will occur. This could mean a safe roomate who is not dissociative; staying with members of a church, finding a safe house, or even a women’s shelter (although there are reports that some shelters and safe houses are being infiltrated by cult members; the survivor needs to be cautious in where they go and whom they trust). One grievous problem today is the relative lack of safe houses for people trying to break free of the cult.
One precaution: often survivors will quickly make friends with other survivors, since they feel isolated and alone without the cult group. The survivor may want to exercise caution about rushing into friendships, since many survivors, especially at the beginning of their therapeutic process, may still be in contact with a cult group. Each person will need to make decisions on an individual basis in this area to maintain safety.
2. A good therapist:
There are excellent therapists who specialize in working with ritual abuse. While qualifications among therapists will vary, a survivor can try locating one by contacting reputable people in the field for referrals, by contacting the ISSD (link is on the welcome page for my articles), or by referral from people the survivor trusts. Not all therapists who advertise that they work with DID are safe, but if the survivor checks out references and asks careful questions, their chances of finding a good therapist will be higher. I have personally had therapists who worked with DID who ranged from : a pastor in San Diego who told me he could “integrate me” in 3 months if I had enough faith (this did NOT happen and was completely unrealistic); a therapist who was the referral for a national christian counseling group for DID who told me that her brother had tortured her as a child, and that I was not DID because she, the therapist, often “lost time” and went through personality changes and SHE wasn’t DID (I stopped seeing her after two visits); a therapist associated with a ritual abuse and trauma program who was very knowledgeable, compassionate, and helpful. The last one, needless to say, was the only helpful one in my healing process! A good therapist will be knowledgeable about DID and ritual abuse; will BELIEVE the survivor and not discount memories shared; will help the survivor with achieving inter-system communication; and will have good boundaries. A therapist like this is well worth the time and effort it will take to locate, and can help the survivor immensely in the process of breaking free of cult control.
3. Stopping telephone access:
The telephone is one of the first avenues used to access someone trying to leave the cult. Hang up calls; calls with tones played, or with a tape or hidden message, will be used. Also, survivors often have recontact programming to phone their trainer or family members. One way to deal with this: take the telephone and lock it in the trunk of the car. This way, if a part of the survivor tries to get up in the middle of the night and make a phone call, they will have to find the car keys; unlock the trunk, plug the phone in,and make the call. Hopefully, the survivor will have time to “switch out” another part who will stop the call, especially as they work in therapy to block cult access.
Use of caller i.d.; answering services, or an answering machine (calls can be checked with a therapist or support person present in case an access message is left) can also help prevent phone access. Eventually, the survivor will find the parts inside with a vested interest in recontact, and can negotiate with them not to call or recontact. An unlisted phone number may help for a short period of time. Phone numbers can also be blocked to prevent calls from certain numbers, such as those of known perps.
4. Alarm systems:
Some survivors will have alarm systems to prevent unauthorized entry into their home. Again, this is best combined with a safe living situation, as described above. These alarm systems can also be coded by an outside safe person so that the survivor themself cannot decode it if internal parts try to leave in the middle of the night.
5. Share info with safe outsiders:
This could be a lock box with names of perps, and information, which the safe person will distribute if the survivor is harmed or access is attempted. The survivor can then mail a letter to this effect to known perps, to help prevent accessing or abducting of the survivor.
6. Go public
Some survivors have chosen to go public to maintain safety. The thought is that if they are harmed, they have shared enough info that an investigation will be done into the causes, and the cult group will risk further exposure, which they hate. Sharing information with law enforcement, with legal advisors, therapists, social workers, and child protective services can all also help maintain safety, IF the law enforcement officers, etc. are not members of the group. The problem here is that at times, cult members will infiltrate legal and law enforcement organizations, even CPS, to prevent cult members from escaping. The survivor will need to go to reputable, known safe people, if they choose to go this route.
7. Work on undoing recontact programming
This will take time, with a qualified therapist. It means looking at the trauma that placed the programming in, a difficult task psychologically. It will also mean addressing the powerful needs addressed above as well, and grieving when contact with cult members is stopped.
8. Prayer support
As a Christian, I believe that this can be a survivor’s strongest protection. A strong, supportive faith system, and prayers for safety can protect the survivor during the spiritually and emotionally trying times while breaking free of the cult.
These are just a few ideas on breaking free. Many, many survivors have broken free, and have used their creativity and strength, as well as the help of noncult members who wish to help, to maintain safety. My hope is that this article will be a beginning place for both survivors and their support people and therapists to look at maintaining safety. I welcome any comments or andecotes on ideas that other survivors and support people have found for maintaining safety.
copyright 2000 svali