(see main menu for chapter structure below)
by Peter Black
In Australia and many other similar countries around the World such as the US, U K, Canada and New Zealand just to name a few, we value highly our individual right to make choices. These start in childhood when we may decide which sports we would like to play and later in secondary school, we may also decide which subjects we wish to concentrate on. We do this in order to prepare for employment or for a place at college or university. As adults, we choose where we want to live, where we would like to go for holidays and when an election is called which political party will attract our vote. We call such rights which we enjoy, freedom and we say that we live in a “free Country”.
In some countries though, such freedom of choice and individual decision making is not permitted. Many aspects of daily life are monitored and controlled by repressive and authoritarian Governments.
Unfortunately even in nations like ours, organizations and groups exist which reduce or eliminate the freedom of their members in order to control them.
If such groups have a religious or political basis we call them cults and they still flourish even in these “enlightened times”. Australiaallows freedom of religion and cults or sects which abuse this right have existed for many years and will continue to crop up from time to time.
Because cults bring about fear and low self-esteem in their members not to mention how they damage the ability of people who later leave to trust, they cause enormous disruption to lives.
Cults may exist supposedly under the banner of any of the major religions of the World however it is the effect of the so-called Christian or bible-based groups which will be examined here. It is my intention to help the reader to identify harmful cults in order to avoid becoming mixed-up in one to begin with.
Also it is a goal of this book to lend as much assistance as possible to people who are intending to leave such a cult or who are trying to rebuild their lives after having done so. Chapter 9, Helping the Helper, assists anyone who is trying to help a relative or friend to rebuild their life after breaking away from such a controlling group.
This material isn’t meant to be a brag-fest about how I have rebuilt my life after my own time in a cult however I will use large amounts of my story along with research to assist other cult survivors as much as possible.
It should be a reason to celebrate when you or someone you know breaks away from a cult but sometimes a person in that position can not handle the sudden freedom. This can lead to returning to the sect from which he or she came, getting mixed-up in another cult, going onto alcohol or drugs in an effort to cope with life and tragically, or even to suicide. Therefore it is important to get it right as lives may depend on it.
I spent 31 years in a formerly large cult with members in most countries of the World. It was called the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) or often just called Worldwide by former members. This group was started by its founder Herbert W Armstrong on the US West Coast in the State of Oregon.
After leaving the sect, I faced the demanding and hugely difficult challenge of trying to rebuild my life. I did some things right and some things wrong while trying to do so. The worst mistake I made was firstly not to recognize just how much damage had been done to my ability to think normally by the controlling sect.
Secondly, I didn’t seek help from anyone to put my life back together for many years and I hope to help readers of this material to avoid making those same errors.