Blog: Advice to Family & Friends of Cult Members - 2017-04-20
Hi, my name is Chris Shelton and I am a cult survivor and now advocate against destructive cults. I was involved for decades with the Church of Scientology but I've found since leaving that group four years ago that high control groups which engage in undue influence or cohersive persuasion have a lot in common. If you're watching this, you may know someone who is in one of these groups and want to know what you should and shouldn't do to help them see the error of their ways and get them out of that group. Now I'm not a trained psychologist or psychotherapist, but I have helped people escape from Scientology and I've helped some others recover. Let's go over some things and see if some of what I've learned can help you too.
First off, there are two things we need to go over that are very important. People are free to believe whatever they want and as long as they aren't breaking the law, they can act how they want. It's not your place to take control of anyone else's life or how they live it. Tolerance and respect are not just words, but are shown through actions and if you are going to help someone out of a destructive cult, you have to demonstrate these things to them.
People who join cults aren't Martians. They have simply adopted a different and extreme belief system which can lead to extreme and alarming actions which may not be in their best interest. Over time, these beliefs and ideas can re-shape the person's personality to something quite different from the person they were before and more like the cult leader and its doctrine. But don't ever forget they are people too with the same range of thoughts and emotions as anyone else.