The following is Chapter One from a new book that I have written: It’s Not Impossible: Healing from Ritual Abuse and Mind Control.
Chapter One: Essentials to Deprogramming (What Needs to Be in Place Before Starting)
Healing from mind control programming can be done, but it is not easy. One of the most difficult issues that therapists and supporters face is the heartbreak of seeing individuals that they attempt to help break free get accessed continuously, and the individual is completely unaware. They must weight the attempt to help against the possibility of harm, since attempts to heal can be used against the survivor if they are accessed.
Before attempting to deprogram Occultic programming, it is important to have several things in place. This is difficult work and having the support that is needed in place can make a huge difference in success and preventing reaccess.
Safe Support and accountability
First and foremost, it is important to have a safe support person in your life who can provide accountability (i.e. help ensure that you aren’t doing missions overseas for three months when you thought you were going to college or working). You will want to have someone you can talk to, vent to, or let your parts out around who will not be a perpetrator to you or them. There are numerous reasons for needing support during healing, but basically: the wounding to the survivor was done relationally, and healing is also done relationally.
I have heard of survivors (with government mind control, not extensive occultic programming) who have been able to heal “solo” but this is extremely rare. While the individual may be able to break programming, and become free of access, these individuals may integrate, but do not truly heal, because there has not been healthy attachment or modeling of healthy behavior for true relational healing.
Finding safe support may sound simplistic, but safe support and accountability from a non-dissociative person can be extremely hard to find.
Why is this? One reason is that most programmed survivors will be almost literally surrounded by cult people; and early in their therapy, they will have no idea that this is so. The loving husband who supports your therapy and drives you to sessions may actually be a handler (this was true for me, of my first two husbands). The best friend who is “always there” for you may be a cult sister. Family members are often also members of the group a survivor is trying to leave.
I have had many, many survivors ask me “If I was in the cult, is it possible that my husband wasn’t?” My heart breaks when I hear this question, because almost always, the answer is “no”. People who grew up in a cult group that programmed them will not be allowed to choose their own spouse; the cult chooses them.
What about people who “got away” from the group in their teens?
This is another question I have been asked frequently. The history often goes like this: the survivor remembers being part of a cult group in their early childhood, then believes that they somehow “escaped” when they left home to go to college or got married. In most cases, the belief that the survivor “left” is a cover memory, designed to cover the fact that they are still active and doing their cult jobs. Most cult groups that have put time and effort into programming members do not simply let people “leave”. I have also heard many stories of survivors who later in therapy, realized that they never did leave, and the husband or partner they “chose” is actually their handler.
Another reason it is extremely difficult to find safe support and accountability is the lack of education and willingness in the church to provide this to survivors. This is not a “slam” against churches, but the reality: many survivors report negative experiences if they disclose the fact that they are breaking free from a cult to their church. This can be due to several reasons:
People in the church don’t understand their authority in Christ, and are afraid of the spiritual warfare that can result from helping a cult survivor
The church has had previous bad experiences with infiltrators who had jobs of promoting negative perceptions of survivors and creating chaos, division or burnout within the church
Misunderstanding within the church regarding the need for support and accountability. A survivor may be erroneously seen as “paranoid” or “not trusting God with their safety” if they request accountability due to ignorance about how cults work or how access occurs
Fear of the cult and physical retaliation by church members. This is added to with some very bad teaching about cults and survivors
Realistically, when looking for support and accountability, the survivor may not have many –if any -options. There are very few “safe houses” (and most that do exist have been reported to be infiltrated). Early in their journey, the survivor will want to pray that God does provide this accountability and support. Ideally, a support person will have the following characteristics:
- They are not dissociative, or are a completely healed survivor. This requires discernment, because it is not uncommon for “supporters” or those in prayer ministry who are drawn to work with survivors to be dissociative, and completely unaware of this fact. I have heard of numerous accounts of a survivor’s “support” learning that they themselves are dissociative, and neither they nor the survivor initially suspected this fact. Survivors should be especially wary of individuals that they feel an “instant connection with” (real friendship takes time). Also, some “integrated” survivors later discover that only the top levels of their systems joined, while deeper levels continued to be cult active. Get to know a person well, and be prayerful, before asking them into a support role.
- Mature. All too often, supporters of survivors have their own unhealed wounds that can negatively impact the survivor. I have heard numerous horror stories of survivors who worked almost as slaves in return for a room in a house; or of emotional abuse (including Christian abuse) in which the survivor was berated for “taking so long to heal” or “not having the faith to integrate quickly” by individuals who did not understand how mind control works or what the process of healing looks like. This can be extremely damaging to a survivor who is already struggling with antichristian programming.
- Have a strong faith. While I have known survivors who worked on healing without Christianity, I cannot imagine healing occultic abuse and the demonic oppression that results without going to the real source of healing: the loving God who created us and never abandoned us, even during the worst of the abuse. Anyone who supports survivors of ritual abuse must have a source of strength, joy and spiritual refreshment to help them in the battle against the demonic, or they will wear out and burn out. It can help tremendously to help others from the viewpoint of victory; and the Holy Spirit can provide the wisdom, discernment and love to help others that no other source can.
- Therapist: During healing, it is also important to have a therapist who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with cult programming – and who is a believer. Healing work involves coming in touch with deep trauma, including intense emotions and painful memories. A therapist who is warm, has a strong faith, and can help support you through this journey can make a huge difference.
- Another important source of strength while healing and deprogramming is a strong, loving church. Some of the best help for healing – and some of the worst spiritual and verbal abuse – comes from churches, which makes it important to find one that is helpful. Look for a church that is based upon the Bible, and where the people are loving and accepting. If people shun or avoid you because you are a survivor, you may want to find another one. Does the church have a ministry that helps those recovering from emotional, spiritual or sexual abuse? You may not want to initially disclose that you are a survivor of cult abuse or mind control; instead, you may want to check out their ministry to other issues first.
- About Safe Houses
- Safe houses are a controversial topic, and for good reason. I lived in the home of a non-dissociative individual for two years during an intense portion of my own healing journey. While I was not accessed due to 24/7 accountability (which was good) I did endure significant verbal and emotional abuse from the woman whose house I lived in. I was expected to cook, clean, help out financially and spend eight hours a day, five days a week journaling as a requirement of staying there, or I would be asked to leave. I did journal and discovered a lot about my parts and their jobs during this time, but at great emotional cost. I am grateful that I had safety during those two years. I also stayed at a “safe house” in which I was accessed (by my daughter from another country, who came to live there soon after I entered the house). The house was not safe, because I myself was not yet safe (I was unaware of my deepest double binds, which made me vulnerable to access), and because the other survivors in the house were quite early in their own healing journeys, and so were all also vulnerable to access.
- If you are able to stay with a truly safe, non-dissociative friend or pastor who opens their home to you, you are fortunate indeed. But these situations are rare, and should only be entered into after prayer. Some “safe houses” are actually designed to access others attempting to leave the cult, and any survivor who chooses this route should exercise discernment and caution.Women’s shelters can be a short-term option, but often cult groups will send in a member after the person attempting to escape. Also, some women’s shelters are managed by cult personnel for this very reason. So pray, before seeking safety, to help ensure that the situation you are entering into is truly safe.