How to leave a cult
- First, you must recognize if you are in an abusive group. Cults generally involve aggressive misinformation, worship of a leader, isolation and disrespect of outsiders, and undermining the other member’s self esteem. If a group or organization seems odd, but one wouldn’t have to “escape” it, don’t panic. Its may not be a cult. Join, stay, or leave depending on your decision.
- Think through the reasons of why you want to leave. Are you being abused or oppressed? Do you have a lack of freedom/thought/mobility, etc? If so, consider seeking help from authorities who can help where laws are being broken.
- Plan you departure. If one is in a cult that lives in a compound, they might be planning an escape rather than just leaving. If that is the case, one will need to plan very carefully and take any possible opportunity that comes around. They must have a bag packed that is hidden somewhere, or be prepared to forget any possessions so they can leave at a moment’s notice.
- Simply leave. If you’re trying to get away in a hurry from a live-in cult, use opportunities such as when people visit, when you’re taken somewhere else outside the compound, when other members decide to make an escape as well. If you’re leaving your own place, arrange for collection of you and your possessions by taxi or a friend for family member. If you don’t need to actually leave an area, but cut all ties with the cult, then not returning to their services will be the first indication that you have gone.
- Try to have a place to stay in mind in advance. If you have left a live-in cult arrangement, you’ll need a safe place to stay. Consider family, friends, shelters, or even a mainstream church charity. If you’re in danger, the authorities should be able to help.
- Be prepared for attempting to get you back. Cultists tend to hate those who break ranks and threaten to expose what is really happening inside the cult. You will be viewed as a traitor and as someone who might be worth telling lies about. Be prepared for this possibility. Alternately, they might try to get you back by telling you that you’re confused and the evil from the outside has infected you. They will try to argue that you need to be cleansed and restored. The important thing is to stand firm in believing that your choice to move on is right and that they might try anything to get you back. If you’re afraid that they might try forcefully take you back, seek protection.
- Seek support from other people. Many people will be sympathetic even if they don’t understand the challenges of those who leave a cult. Sometimes you might also need an expert to help you who specializes in reframing the life of those you experienced a cult lifestyle.
- Finally, continue with your journey. Eventually you will be able to talk with others about your experiences, and maybe even help other who are in similar situations. There are different support networks for those who have left cults, and you might want to find those and share you stories to help support other people.
- If you still remain near members of the cult, they might spread gossip and lies about you. Warn your friends, neighbors, etc of what happened. Remain polite to them when you see them around the streets. Your persistence in being strong and polite will place you on higher ground. You never know who else in the cult who might be planning the same things you did, so showing that it works can be a sign of support for them.
- Some cults tend to hunt people down and take them back to the group. If you fear that might happen to you, get help from someone outside and when you get away hide until it is safe.
- Do not give anyone in the cult the idea that you are leaving. They will do their best to convince you to stay, and may not always stop at just words. Just leave quietly.