(Note: this article is based upon an email that I sent to a survivor who was having difficulty finding support within their local church)
One of the biggest struggles that survivors of mind control and cult or governmental abuse have is how to develop healthy, appropriate support. This includes when (or even whether) to share your story, and if so, how.
It is especially hard when you want to be understood, and when you feel judged as you describe, or for others to not understand what you have overcome in order to “appear normal”.
The reality is that very few churches or ministries (other than those that work with survivors) actually understand mind control, programming or organized traumatic abuse. It is so far outside of the scope of what they understand or from their paradigm of how human beings treat each other, that the individual who wants to communicate regarding these issues with someone who has no experience with these things will typically see reactions that are quite different than they were hoping for: the church member acts dazed, or may even reject the person.
It is not the survivor they are rejecting, but the loss of their belief that most people are basically “good”, with maybe a few “bad apples” out there; or the loss of their belief that while evil exists, it is limited. When you disclose your full story to these individuals, it blows this perception away, and most people handle this poorly, especially if they are not prepared for the nature of what they will hear. It is similar to the person interested in “learning what nurses do” who visits an operating room: while their logical brain says that surgery is done a certain way, when confronted with the reality, some people can’t cope with it (I remember people passing out in this situation when I was in nursing school, or vomiting).
So, as a survivor, how can you share the “real” you with others, and be accepted for who you are – without causing undue distress? First, I would pray about why you want people to know your story.
Do you want them to:
- See how brave you are? To understand your courage?
- To sympathize with you? To learn more about survivors?
- To take down programming against Christians, the church or those who do not belong to an organized group (e.g., to believe that others will never accept you outside of an organized group)?
These reasons are all okay, but as you pray, you may need to ask yourself:
- Can people hear only part of my story, and still know the “real” me?
- How much of my story is okay to share? What parts are okay to share?
- Who is okay to share those parts with?
These are all prayer points, because in general, it’s best if people get to know you first without knowing your abuse history. If you are in a Bible study, or active at church, first become friends without going into your past.
Once people know you, and you get to know them better, pray and ask the LORD what to share in the relationships you develop. It is usually best to start with the things most people can relate to: verbal abuse, or even some physical abuse. See how these disclosures are met and reacted to.
If people say, “You should just get over this”, they do not understand trauma, or how healing works. You can choose to be their friend, but be aware that they will not be able to be supportive if you share more, if they react poorly to a partial disclosure.
Some churches have Bible studies for survivors of sexual abuse or other traumas; this can be a support where you could possibly share some aspects of your past, without full disclosure. It is common when first getting memories of severe abuse to feel angry, and to want others to know that this kind of thing happens, in part due to a desire to “expose” things, or to get it to stop. Unfortunately, disclosure needs a lot of prayer, and careful consideration regarding who to share things with.
Many survivors start by sharing first about verbal or physical abuse in their background. If the people they are closest to can handle this, over time, they begin sharing about sexual abuse. A good guide for how this can be done is found in “The Courage to Heal”, a book about healing from sexual abuse with a chapter in which women describe their experiences of sharing with others about their sexual abuse.
Normally, the people who can best support a survivor of traumatic or organized abuse or mind control will be a therapist or individual who has been called to help survivors. They will (hopefully)be able to hear the full story of what happened, believe you, and help you process how you feel. Most people in churches, and very few friends, have the ability to hear this kind of story and not feel overwhelmed. If you do have friends who have heard part of your story, are supportive, and you would like them to learn more, there are some excellent books regarding these topics.
A Nation Betrayed, by Carol Rutz, describes governmental mind control, and is very well researched and documented. CARE has numerous articles regarding mind control, trauma, ritual abuse and topics related to them; the website lists the topics.
I also have a previous book written (Breaking the Chain, by svali) that is free, and can be downloaded and read by others who want to learn more. The link to the book is under “resources” and “links” for this site.
My greatest hope is that churches and individuals supporting survivors will be interested in learning about the issues that those coming out of a background of mind control and ritual abuse face – and can be supportive. One way to help a church learn is to first get them interested in related topics (such as human trafficking), and then link this topic to other types of organized abuse. This takes time and effort. If you have a support person interested in learning more, encourage them to meet with your therapist to learn more, read books and articles, and ask questions.
In looking for support, pray. Ask God to help the people in your church to be interested in learning about mind control and organized abuse. Ask Him to help church members become aware of this issue, and willing to help.
Finally, be willing to give back if you are able. This may involve praying for others who are hurting, or being willing to help in practical ways (e.g., giving someone a ride, or helping to bring food to an event) within your capacity.