The first sign you may have of a friend or relative entering a cult is that their personality alters and you begin to realise that they are not acting as they would normally but it is just like someone has ‘reprogrammed’ their actions and responses.
The first reaction to this can often be to tell them not to be so silly and pull themselves together. Unfortunately though, they are not thinking for themselves and such advice will normally fall on ‘deaf ears’. When this happens, we can respond by feeling that if that’s the way they act we want nothing more to do with them; however for many reasons that is not the best thing to do. The initial shock can often bring extreme reactions such as:
1. Intense anger and resentment that leads always to arguments and not constructive conversations.
2. Destroying everything you find that comes from the cult group.
3. Demand your friend or relative chooses between you and the cult group.
If you have already acted in this way please do not feel all is lost but please be aware that people do not usually come out of the cults via the ‘sponge method’. The sponge method is where you put pressure on from the outside and hope all that is within will come out. Very often however, putting pressure on from the outside only forces your friend or relative further into the cult and what they feel is safety.
What has the Cult Group said would happen?
Normally they will have told them that you will react violently, as mentioned above and do everything you can to take them away from the ‘truth’ or enlightenment of the group. If and when they see you reacting like that, it will only confirm that they are in a true group and you are ‘of the devil’.
What will your friend or relative be thinking?
They will feel that they have found ‘the way’ they have been looking for. They will still be feeling ‘special’ that they have found something you do not have and may even have been giving the impression that they are ‘chosen’. They will be increasingly coming under the control of the group and so might well take decisions out of character that will appear illogical to you. Their life will increasingly be taken up with the things of the group and that might mean that they ignore practical issues of every day life and become very unreliable.
What should I do?
It may be very hard but, don’t react in any of the usual ‘human’ ways, in fact do the exact opposite. In practical terms first a few don’ts that we have not already mentioned.
Don’t feel there is a simple solution and rush headlong into implementing a plan before you have taken time to find out about the beliefs and activities of the group in question.
Don’t use accusative phrases such as, “You are in a cult” or “You’ve been brainwashed”. These will not help the situation and will probably build a brick wall between you and your friend or relative that will make it harder to reach them.
Don’t feel that it is your fault your friend or relative has got involved in the group or that you have to struggle through by yourself. There are many others who have been through similar situation and have come out on the other side.
Don’t belittle or make fun of the beliefs that friend or relative now have, even if they do seem ‘stupid’ to you. At present the group has exercised its control over the friend or relative and your ‘anti’ stance will only drive them further into the arms of the group.
Don’t condemn or speak against the group or the people within the group, especially the leadership.
Now let’s look at some positive things that you can do:
Do keep the ‘door open’ to all possible contact and never miss an opportunity to meet whether in the home or in a coffee bar etc. Try also to communicate regularly via mail or telephone even if there is no or little response.
Do show sincere love whenever you can. This need not just be in words but in what you do too. Find ways that you can show that love in action; maybe cooking for them or driving them somewhere. Even if you get little or no response do continue to find active ways to respond to your friend or relative.
Do find individuals or an organisation that can support you at this time. Reachout Trust might be able to help you with this. Also read books relating to cults and mind control, as well as reading other information on the cult in question – see our shop and the many resources we have that might be able to help you. The more you know about the subject and the more you know about the group the better you are equipped to act correctly and lovingly in the situation.
Showing love and care for your friend or relative is not only the best way to win over the person but at the same time it will undermine the ‘validity’ of the group that has told them something very different will happen. If the person involved is your husband or wife love them with the same fervour as when you were first married. If they are another friend or relative find ways to express your love and care for them.
Don’t give up; it could take a long time. However while you are still in touch and communicating, you are in a strong position and have good opportunities.
Don’t let go; understand that your friend or relative has been deceived and so have allowed the group to control their life. They probably believe that they are serving ‘God’ or have the answers to ‘life in the future’ and are prepared to give up everything else. Unfortunately, if they are in a cult, they have not come to know the true Christianity or the true way to eternal life. It is therefore important to know what true Christianity is and you should investigate this too and compare it with the false message that the cult is giving. Reachout Trust can help you here if you wish.
Don’t bring them out into a vacuum. The fact that they have responded to the cult message shows that they have an interest in knowing more about true Christianity. Do not try to take them out into ‘nothing’. Check out the true message of the Bible as well and discover what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and not with an organisation. Find some local Christians or contact Reachout Trust to help you in this aspect.
Find your nearest support group. There may not always be a group but Reachout Trust could probably put you in touch with someone near you who certainly understands and can therefore help you and your friend or relative. We know some who have been through similar situations themselves and they could write to you and/or your friend or relative if that will help.