Outside the glasshouse

I have spent more time outside of the cult than in it. However, I attest that the damage of being raised in a cult is long-lasting.

Shunning

If you grew up in a cult as I did, you are more likely to have experienced some form of shunning. Shunning can come in the form of a feeling of distance from loved ones and family members to outright no contact with anyone in the community. Shunning is, of course, conditional upon the outcast correcting the offending behaviour. 

Stones in the glasshouse

My offending behaviour is not joining or accepting baptism even though I was raised in the cult. This was intentional on my part. I was smart enough to have positioned myself to have a relationship, albeit a superficial one, with close family members because of the nebulous nature of my status within the cult.

More stones in the glasshouse

Not everyone in the cult views me as “favourably-disposed” within the organization. The more hardcore orthodox family members have followed the teachings or interpreted said instructions more deliberately and treated me as if I had been baptized. Therefore I am shunned by them.

Consequences

One example of the brutality of shunning is that I was asked not to attend my Grandmother’s funeral. So I didn’t. It was not because I didn’t want to, but it was made clear that there wasn’t any room for my family or me at the ceremony.

Long term effects

Once you leave your cult community, you are basically on your own. If you were born and raised in a cult, you have no family and friends once you leave. Once you are free from the cult, the new people you meet are most likely to be afraid of you because you once were in a cult. You may be afraid to tell people that you used to be in a cult too. From my own personal experience, it is tough to make new friends the moment you leave.

What people believe

Everyone I have met outside fears that I will return to the cult. It appears very hard for me not to have any family. Having no family is brutal. Things are even harder when you lose new friends and loved ones in a divorce. I am still feeling the pain.

Cults actively try and recruit ex-members

Cults know perfectly well how hard it is to be on your own. They look for any and every opportunity to bring you back into the community. Possibilities like a divorce, illness, death or any challenging moment in a person’s life are all fair game. They are trained to use these moments to convince you that what is happening to you is because you turned your back on god. Some fall for it hook, line and sinker.

What happens if you decide to return 

You are viewed as weak, dangerous, and made to feel this way for the duration of your next stay within the cult. Many feel obligated to speak of their sins to others in perpetuity, speaking of their shame and remorse. They wear it like sandwich cards.

What I needed but didn’t get

I’ve had some tough times. I live some tough times where it would be really nice to have someone like a parent listen to me. But I don’t. Instead, I have people trying to get a foot in the door to suck me back into a cult. I don’t want to hear about god. I just want to get some advice and be told that everything will be ok.