“One of the hardest things to do with a cult is to remove yourself from them” (Cultwatch.com, n.d., paragraph 1), says Cultwatch. The website has written a “how-to” guide for those who realize they are in a cult or at the very least an unhealthy group dynamic.
Cultwatch offers sound advice to anyone seeking guidance on how to end involvement with a cult. Knowing there are resources waiting to be utilized and people willing to help those trapped within the confines of a cult-society can be the impetus needed for a person to change or seek outside assistance. Cultwatch suggests that a person who is trapped develop a carefully thought-out list of people he can trust and rely on for help; begin with those closest to the victim and expanding from there.
The most difficult part about separating from a cult is often making other members aware of the decision to leave. Cultwatch advises those attempting to break away from their cult with tips to make the process easier: walking away and leaving the cult to figure it out; singling out one member and telling him or her about their decision; have someone from the circle of support inform the cult.
Cultwatch acknowledges that cults aren’t simply going to allow a member to walk away and that further contact will need to be prepared for in advance.
“You don’t have to take their phone calls, or invite them into your house,” explains Cultwatch. “In fact, we’d suggest you don’t do either. If there is some good reason for you to do so, have someone with you (even for a phone call) for support” (Cultwatch.com, n.d., Further contact with the group). The site further advises the leaving member to change phone numbers, email addresses and social media accounts. It also suggests applying a filter or screening process to anything technology-based that the cult may use to reach out in order to avoid contact.
Once the person has left the cult, it is essential for him to document all contact that he has with members from then on. He should save all text and email communications received from cult members in case they are needed legally in the future. Cultwatch supplies pointers on recording phone conversations and makes a point of reminding readers that cult members will not call on the “leaver” at a convenient time. Showing up late at night or calling very early in the morning is by design and can be used to break down the resistance of the one who left.
Law enforcement should be brought in during cases of abuse. Cultwatch recommends first consulting a lawyer as to how to report the abuse to the police. Once again, documenting everything is essential. They urge readers to go immediately to the police in extreme cases of assault as time is of the essence in reporting the offense.
One area not usually considered when leaving a cult is employment. Is the boss a member of the cult? Should other employment be secured before leaving? Would the person leaving want to maintain employment in a company full of cult members? Cultwatch raises these questions, urging documentation of everything and leaving the individual to make his own decisions.
Life after a cult can be rough. Wounds will need time to heal; stress can remain for years. Cultwatch recommends professional counseling with a licensed therapist and offers advice on how to move forward while dealing with the understandable anger and bitterness that remain after such an ordeal.
It is possible to escape from a cult. It is possible to live life independently and fully. It is possible to overcome anger, bitterness, and resentment.
For more information on this topic please visit the Cultwatch website.
Cultwatch.com. (n.d.). How to leave and recover from a religious cult. Retrieved from http://www.cultwatch.com/how-to-leave-recover.html