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  • (#1) Teen Rehab Camp Forces Slave Labor on Young Addicts

    "My younger brother was in [Teen Challenger] and they kicked him out for arguing with the leaders about religion and science and making people think too much and was preventing what the leaders were trying to do to the people there to make them 'productive members of society'.

    From what I can tell it was really a slave labor camp where they would work long hours all day and get almost no sleep and would be pretty much brainwashed into believing some really weird form of Christianity. Very close to Pentecostal. Most of the people there were court ordered and if they didn't finish or left they broke their probation and went to prison.

    They ate rotten or expired food and when any food was donated the counselors and leaders took what they wanted and left everything else for the 'students'. If you were obedient and bowed down like a dog they'd let you do the easy jobs like work in the kitchen or clean or whatever. If you were rebellious like my brother they would put you on hard labor. They would work for like 18 hours a day making these crosses out of wood from lumber companies where they would sell them cheap lumber they couldn't sell and sell the crosses outside supermarkets and malls.

    They made him work at a car wash one day for 12 hours straight in the middle of the summer in Mississippi. He has pretty bad scars from the sunburns. No sunscreen, no soothing lotion after, no tylenol. God will heal your pain and illness. A man cut his thumb off working in the wood shop making those crosses and they wouldn't let him have any medication. Just pray your pain away. A man died of complications related to liver cancer because they wouldn't let him go to his chemo treatments or take any of the drugs he was prescribed.

    The guy who was at the top drove a brand new Ford F150 and his wife drove a brand new Cadillac Escalade. His job at Teen Challenge was the only one he had and his wife didn't work. It is a corrupt organization that takes advantage of people that."
  • (#10) After the World Doesn't End, Redditor Gets an Education and Leaves

    "I was raised in the Family Radio Fellowship. It has/had ties to the Quiverfull movement and carries an apocalyptic message.

    For those of you lucky enough to not know, Family Radio was/is an evangelical Christian sect that has predicted the end of the world a couple of times.

    Family Radio didn't gain a lot of traction until about a month before its last prediction of May 21, 2011. However, I was born and raised in the movement, and was completely absorbed. Everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - in my life was to lead up to that day. It was considered a sin to consider living after the rapture, so we weren't allowed to make long term plans. As a young person, this usually meant dropping out of high school or not going to college. Yep. Kept us dumb enough to keep following them....

    I gave Family Radio (and their sister organization EBible Fellowship - which is still going strong) all of my money. I gave them my life. When the world didn't end, I got two jobs, put myself through community college, and am now almost done with university. I am pretty rare - most young people never got to earn an education. Many of the families sold their houses, as they planned to go on road trips to spread the Word. Plenty of families ended up with nothing, homeless and jobless. Some people were separated from their families. One woman joined the movement, and her husband realized how crazy it all was, he took their kid and vanished. I don't know if she ever found them after the prophecy failed....

    There is a lot of crazy shit. And a lot of sad stories. Sometimes, I still have nightmares about it. It was abuse, plain and simple - although I've worked hard to move past it and built a life.

    I just ask that you empathize with cult followers. I know, I know, how the f*ck can I ask you to do that? I feel like I have a unique viewpoint, because I know what it's like to be sucked into a cult and now I know what it's like to watch cult followers from the other side. There were assh*les in our movement, but we also had individuals who were genuinely lost and looking for a community - people who really thought they were doing good. Were they? Hell no. But they were brainwashed. It's just sad."
  • (#9) Redditor Asks to be Saved From Quiverfull Cult

    "I grew up involved with the Quiverfull movement, a type of Christian Fundamentalism that involves having a bunch of children, home education, extremely modest dress including headcoverings, the practise of 'courting' and 'bethrothals' (basically semi-arranged marriages taking place as soon as the girl was old enough to marry), and something called 'Christian patriarchy,' wherein the father is viewed as a sort of mini god.

    I grew up attending a small Christian school run by the local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church, where every student was Quiverfull. We were required to wear extremely modest clothing (ankle length skirts, hemlines that covered the base of our necks, etc. We had wardrobe checks multiple times each day.)

    Each morning we pledged allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Bible. It's been years, but I can still recite both pledges by heart. Then we recited the chapters of the Bible we were working on. Yes, I did say chapters. We memorized several books of the Bible (Jonah, all of Paul's epistles, most of Genesis, Daniel, a decent amount of Leviticus and I think the Gospel of Mark.)

    Our schoolwork was primarily books published by Abeka, BJU Press and ACE. Our textbooks claimed that:

    no transitional fossils had ever been found
    the Loch Ness Monster had been proven to be real and was a plesiosaur
    the Great Depression never happened but was just a myth made up by the socialists
    slavery was a win-win solution for all involved
    dinosaurs breathed fire
    the KKK were great dudes who got a bad rap
    the trail of tears was actually super great
    outer space wasn't real because if you blew on a pile of baby powder, a new planet wouldn't form (this was demonstrated)
    the Liberals don't believe in personal responsibility
    the world is about to be attacked by the floating Space Jerusalem

    We never covered much actual math, science, etc. Learning the truth about the government's plan to kill Holocaust the Christians [sic] was seen as much more important.

    For one year the girls also took Christian Charm. This was primarily about how God really, really cares about whether your chest is 10 inches largest than your waist or not. Girls were forbidden from standing with their feet parallel, 'like a man's', instead having to keep our feet at ridiculous and painful angles. We couldn't walk without being careful to 'glide gracefully' and avoid 'swishing' our knees. We were forbidden to not smile, but our smiles were never big enough, or they were too big.

    There wasn't much time for real schoolwork anyway, since we were all so busy being punished for having an ungodly facial expression, and forced to spend the rest of the school day standing on our tiptoes on one foot in the corner.

    In fourth grade my parents chose to pull me out and homeschool me. We joined a local homeschool group filled with Quiverfull homeschoolers. My parents had gone to a different church, one which was very Charismatic (we spoke in tongues, exorcised people, 'healed' with prayer) but not necessarily quite so extreme as the IFB school I had been sent to. However, as my father became more violent (he had a lot of mental issues and was an extreme hoarder), my mother (who was a borderline hoarder and very depressed, so much so that for the first ten years of my life she barely left her bed except to use the washroom) became more and more heavily sucked into this subculture.

    My parents had already gotten rid of most TV channels over concerns about evil spirits and only allowed us to read a few classic books, but after this my mom first stopped allowing us to read anything non-Christian, then banned novels altogether. We began being forbidden to see anyone who did not go to our church or homeschool group. Since my parents never really started teaching, and I had little access to books and at the time no internet, this left little to do all day aside from copy out Bible verses and stare out the window for hours. Time sort of stopped meaning anything.

    We became more into the Biblical patriarchy thing, where my father was seen as the head of our household and a sort of direct representative from God who women were to serve and obey in every way. You weren't supposed to express any kind of wishes or desire, but leave it up to your husband/father to make all decisions for you. (If you were his daughter, this included selecting your husband - girls were expected to be stay at home daughters, serving their fathers, until marriage). Biblical femininity was emphasized, which in this case basically meant long skirts and not having opinions or desires, except to serve whatever man God chose as the best 'helpmeet' possible.

    For a couple of years my mom, who was herself a nurse, stopped allowing us to take medicine, believing it to be witchcraft. She became more and more crazed about the idea of demons trying to attack her and our family.

    Unfortunately, I was born with a birthmark on my leg. She believed that this made me Satan. My father and mother both searched for ways to fix this. I've been exorcised, had oil poured over me, had everything I owned burned, etc. It apparently didn't work.

    After my father died we were at least spared his extreme violence, but my mother became only more unhinged and depressed. We shifted from being Quiverfull to being Charismatic - we'd been both for a while, but my dad's death pushed us all the way from one to another. She mostly gave up on her idea of me as Satan, but became absolutely obsessed with the idea of Satan attacking our family. This belief is reinforced by our church and all the Charismatic material she reads. She even abandoned our homeschool group, believing it to not be concerned enough about how demons are possessing everyone.

    Our church is obsessed with spiritual attacks, which are seen as stemming from absolutely everything. Anne of Green Gables? Witchcraft! Christian music? Actually sung by Satanists, filled with subliminal Satanic messages! Cabbage patch dolls? Demons who stay still when we look at them! (I'm 100% serious) The only way to ward this off is speaking in tongues, making prophecies, etc. A few people in my church believe they hear the voices of demons in their head, and said demons are chasing them. I've been there as we've all laid hands on people and prayed for them to be liberated from the demonic oppression in their lives.

    I still live with my mother and sister. I still go months without seeing anyone who isn't from my church. I still have no real education."
  • (#8) Young Girl is Abandoned at a Cult, Finds Phone and is Saved by Father

    "I've never been in a cult, but my mom was abandoned at a cult when she was 11 with her 16-year-old and 7-year-old sisters. My grandmother was mentally ill and somehow got connected with these people in Iowa...they were from the deep south. Anyway, my grandmother didn't stay. No one knows where she went during that time.

    My mom and her two sisters were left there for around 6 months, until my mom got to a phone and called her stepfather. He somehow arranged to pick them up with the local law enforcement. He wasn't allowed to just walk right up and get his kids, so he showed up in the middle of the night and mom and her sisters had to hide and sneak away with him. Law enforcement hung around and gave them an escort out of the state. I think that the worst part for my mom and her sisters was not only were they abandoned by their mother, but they were never allowed to confront her with it per her psychiatrist. She was a pretty sh*tty mother and an absent grandmother to us grandchildren.

    I can also add a few more details. Mom said that she and her younger sister did not experience any physical or sexual abuse, but she is not sure about her older sister because she was separated from them. They also worked in a cucumber field in the mornings. They told my mother that she had an aura around her at all times and she said she felt like she was being prepped for some sort of religious ritual.

    Unfortunately both of my aunts that were with my mom have passed away in the last 6 years. Neither really talked about it around me, although they both acknowledged it. My mom is very vocal about it. This would have taken place in 1967-1968 in Iowa."
  • (#14) Survivalist Compound Convinces Member of An Impending Apocalypse

    "I'm gonna fess up to 'Cult Lite,' in my case, Survivalism. Survivalism is essentially a religion, that believes that if you are good and prepared, and hoard your guns 'n' ammo, and are ready to skin your neighbor alive to survive etc yadda yadda, then when the Apocalypse comes, you, even though you may be a mediocre or even awful person in real life, will end up on the top of the heap.

    In my own case, when the economy collapsed, and I'd been reading about peak oil and such matters for a couple of years, I fell for it. I lived on a 'survivalist compound' for a few years. The guy who had the place was as much of a hoarder as a 'survivalist,' but, in fact, many of these types are hoarders and not terrifically good at life.

    Once, I'd cleared out a lot of trash and in general decreased the trashiness of this 5-acre place, the guy who owned it started, as I privately put it, to hoard people.

    First, he moved one useless, obnoxious guy in, then in decreasing time-intervals, started moving more people in. The first obnoxious guy was OK I guess, except the time he threatened to stab me with a knife. Oh, and it was my fault he threatened to stab me with a knife, because I'd sneezed - one of those sudden ones that there's little preparation for. It was my fault because Mr. Head Survivalist had known the guy longer than he'd known me.

    Well, next came the weaselly guy, and the snoopy guy with the psycho wife, and toddler. Keep in mind, this place is essentially a junkyard, with 30-odd junk vehicles, rusty iron everywhere, and at the time of this writing there are two toddlers there. And they've waved enough red flags in front of the authorities that they're under the eyes of a few gov't agencies...

    How could this have harmed me? What do I consider an 'escape?' Well, I had a place to live there, with quite a bit of stuff, I didn't have to pay rent, and as far as the basics go, I had all the elements of basic happiness. But, the rest being shirkers, I was put under a heavier and heavier workload. It got to the point where being homeless in one of the nice towns about 30 miles away was looking really good. I came upon a chance to get out, and did.

    Mr. Head Survivalist told me that he, and the rest of his 'pets' can't believe I left. Free rent, plenty of good garden food (the food there was quite good), how could I possibly want to leave?

    I'm glad I left. I no longer think the Apocalypse is nigh. Those people are going to be the most dangerous thing around if things really do get bad, they'll be shooting each other over old, corpsy-tasting cans of SPAM.

    The head guy loooooooooves to talk about shooting cops. Loves to tell everyone and their dog all about how he's a survivalist and had all this stuff, which means if times get like he wishes for, there will be an army of freeloaders headed his way. Head guy says he'll die surrounded by used bullet casings, after his final glorious shootout, which he'll not survive.

    As cults go, it's not an extreme one, but I do feel I fell for a cult, was in it for a while, and then got sense and got out."
  • (#13) Church of Satan is Too Emo for One Member

    I briefly joined the Church of Satan as a teenager/early 20-something. The doctrine of the CoS is designed to draw in people who feel disenfranchised, ostracized, or otherwise 'shoved aside,' and leave them feeling like they're as good as everybody else - but only if they follow LaVey's philosophy. It's every bit the collection of immature freaks and misfits that it sounds like it should be.

    I met a 30-something EMT, a man who at least claimed to be a police officer, and another who claimed to be a lawyer (Lawyer in the Church of Satan... it's almost TOO perfect). They sounded like what I'd now refer to as 'emos,' a term I wasn't familiar with in the 90's/early 2000's. There was a lot of whining about how society didn't understand/ hated/ was afraid of them. There was a lot of furious gesturing towards the doors leading out of the room in which we met, as though people were waiting outside to stone us. Ironically, one time, there were a few protesters outside, at which point everybody threw up their hands as though they'd had to deal with this all the time for years.

    The food was terrific. Junk food orgy. I think there was an episode of Robot Chicken, a while back, which parodied the CoS meetings: a bunch of very fat Satanists chanted "OmmmNommmNommm" as they gorged on delicious, processed fat and sugar. I sometimes wonder if the people who wrote that episode knew just how close to the reality they were. College is ultimately what got me out of this; I actually felt like I had a future for a while, and hanging out with a bunch of people twice my age who acted like they were about half my age suddenly became pretty exhausting.

    That, and my particular grotto had a loud and obnoxious male member, somewhere in his thirties, who was borderline obese and (not unusually, for this lot) loudly emphasized perceived and/or imagined social oddities as making him somehow superior to the 'less unusual,' the inversion of what everybody felt 'on the outside.' In his case, said oddities included his supposed bisexuality. One too many hover hands from him."

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About This Tool

There are many well-known harms of cults. The most terrifying thing is spiritual destruction, if someone is willing to be controlled by the cult, it will become even more difficult to escape from the cult. However, many people have taken correct and positive measures to fight for a normal life. Many cult organizations will imprison their believers, and even require believers to live together and completely cut off from the world. However, this does not mean that there is no way to escape the organization.

Many people escaped from the cult with the help of the police and friends and returned to normal lives. The random tool shares 14 true storied of former followers who escaped cults.

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