How to Leave a Cult 2021


It's not always obvious when a group is a cult, and by the time you realize you're involved with one, getting away can be difficult. While no group or organization admits to being a cult, you're probably dealing with one if you are not allowed to ask questions, make your own decisions, or disagree with the leader. Anyone can get pulled into a cult, but not everyone has the courage to leave and rejoin mainstream society. You can escape a cult by planning your getaway carefully and finding ways to recover from spiritual and emotional abuse.


Part 1 of 3:Getting Away

1Pack your things. If you are in a cult that lives in a"compound"shared living situation, such as a subdivision, commune or shared home, pack a bag for leaving. Bring a change of clothes, practical items like your cell phone and ID, and anything with sentimental value. Stow your bag away where no one will find it until you're ready to go.

If you think you may have to leave at a moment's notice, keep your cell phone, your ID, and any money or small valuables you have on you.

If you think someone might find your bag, don't take the risk of packing. Plan to leave your possessions behind if you need to.

Think about possible answers, in case someone questions why you're packing.

2Make a list of people who could help you. Think about every person you know outside of the cult that could potentially help you in some way. This could be a friend, a doctor, a neighbor, a classmate, or anyone else. Write each of their names down and write what they might be able to help you with next to their name, whether it's getting meals, finding a job, or staying hidden from cult members. Contact these people as soon as it's safe to do so.

3Find a place to stay. If you're leaving a live-in cult arrangement, try to line up a safe place to stay in advance. Consider staying with family or friends who aren't involved in the cult, or search for shelters in your area.

If you think you'll be in danger after you leave the cult, go to the police. They can help you find a place to stay. This might be the best thing to do if you're a young child.

4Find an opportunity to get away. If you're not allowed to come and go freely, you may be able to make a break for it when other people visit the cult or when you're taken outside the cult's shared home or community. Otherwise, take the bus if there's a nearby bus stop, call a taxi to come and get you, or ask a friend or family member to pick you up.Trustworthy SourceWomensLaw.orgSite associated with the National Network to End Domestic Violence aimed at providing free legal resources and aid to survivors of domestic violence.Go to source

5Stop attending services or meetings. If you're living on your own, break ties with the cult by not going to meetings anymore. Plan to do something else during that time. If you're idle, you may end up talking yourself into going back to the group.

For instance, visit a friend or family member during the time you'd usually spend at a meeting.

Be prepared for questions from the other group members. Decide ahead of time how you'll respond and how you'll avoid getting pulled back in.

Part 2 of 3:Staying Safe

1Keep your plans secret. Don't tell anyone in the cult that you're planning to leave. They may try to talk you out of it. If you're living in a"compound", they may also start watching you more closely, so you'll have fewer opportunities to escape. Participate in activities as usual to avoid arousing any suspicion.

Be careful about trusting other people in the group. Even if someone seems to be on your side, they may have a change of heart and tell the other members about your plans later.

2Document your interactions with group members after you leave. Unless you completely cover your tracks, you can expect to hear from other members of the cult after you get away. Keep these interactions as brief as possible and write down the details of each one. If it is legal where you live, consider recording any conversations you have.

Your log of interactions will help back you up if you need to contact law enforcement.

The cult will probably try to convince you to come back. Plan your responses ahead of time so you aren't tempted to give in.

You can say something like, “I don't want to be part of the group anymore. Please stop contacting me.”

3Focus on yourself instead of trying to rescue other people in the cult. Don't contact other people who are still in the group and try to talk them out of their beliefs. It won't work, and you could get drawn back into the cult yourself.

Instead, focus on rebuilding your own life, so you can be a good example for anyone else who leaves the cult in the future.

People who are experiencing doubts might approach you--that will be your opportunity to help them.

If your mom, dad, siblings, and/or other family members are a part of the cult, it may be especially difficult to not communicate with them. However, you may need to cut contact completely in order to keep yourself safe and separated from the cult.

4Decide whether to involve law enforcement. If members of the cult are harassing, threatening, or stalking you, talk to the police. You should also get the authorities involved if anything illegal is happening in the cult, or if you think the cult may be endangering other people.

For instance, if people in the cult are being physically or sexually abused, you should let the police know.

Part 3 of 3:Recovering Emotionally

1Work on your boundaries. Stay strong in your decision to leave the cult. Remind yourself why you wanted to get away, and tell any current members of the group that you don't want to talk to them. Practice making your own decisions, and work on rediscovering your personality.

Cults are so effective at controlling people because they break down their boundaries. It will take time, practice, and perhaps counseling to rebuild your boundaries in a healthy way.

2Keep in mind that many cults are well-intentioned and may do many good things. You can do good things independently and make the world better without belonging to that or any group. You do not have to live in fear, obey rigid rules of conduct, endure the attitude of the leaders, or allow them to control your thoughts and feelings.

3Seek support from people who you know outside of the cult. Many people will be sympathetic to you, even if they don't fully understand the challenges you're facing. Readjust to life outside the cult by spending time with family, friends, and other people who care about you. You may also want to look for a support group for survivors of spiritual abuse.

If you're having a hard time adjusting, consider talking to a counselor or cult expert who can help you reframe your life.

4Connect with others like you through support groups. There are many support groups out there created specifically for people who were previously in a cult. Look for these groups online and participate in whatever way you can in an attempt to find a support network made up of people who understand you. Go to www.refocus.org to find a support group in your area that you can attend. You may also be able to find a support group through Facebook.

5Be prepared for the cult to shun you. Once the group realizes you aren't coming back, they will probably cut off contact with you. Being rejected by people you were once close to can hurt a lot, even if those people are part of a destructive ideology. To cope, lean on your new support network and fill your time with productive activities like work or school.

6Learn about other people's experiences leaving the cult. Reach out to other people who have left your cult and ask them how they adjusted, or search the internet for personal stories from people who have left cults behind. Learning about how other people coped with the transition can give you strength and confidence to do the same.

If you get in touch with someone who left the cult and they seem willing to have a relationship with you, try to establish a friendship with them. This may help you get the guidance and support you need in order to move forward.

7Continue to explore your ideas and beliefs. Relearn how to think critically and make your own decisions. Expose yourself to different ideas by reading books and newspapers, watching interesting programs on TV, and talking to lots of people. Practice recognizing your faulty thought patterns, like overgeneralization and self-blame, when they arise.

For instance, the cult may have taught you that when bad things happen, it's your fault for not behaving correctly. Remind yourself that these thoughts are not true.

8See a counselor. Exit counseling can help you readjust to life outside the cult. If you were in the cult for a long time, or if you're having severe emotional withdrawals, a counselor will be able to help you change your thought patterns and live independently.

Look for a counselor who has experience helping former cult members.