So many people who don't truly understand the nature of cults or spiritual abuse ask why don't the abused just leave. If only it were that simple. Like victims of domestic violence, we stay because we're afraid. We stay because we're told that to leave would be a blasphemy to God and all that we believe in. It would be turning our back on the true religion and the only path to salvation. We stay because we've been told we will encounter misfortunes financially and physically. We stay because we are told we are going to die if we leave.
And we stay because we are afraid of what's out there. I didn't grow up in a cult, but I was in my relationship long enough to fear any other way of life. I had the hardest time making decisions when I left because I could not ask my leader what to do, what to wear, what to say, where to go, what to think...it was just me. I was so not used to being reliant on myself that I questioned everything I did. Then I thought it really didn't matter what I did because I'm sure it was wrong, and I was going to hell anyway for my "betrayal". We stay because we know no other way and the alternate ways presented to us seem wrong or evil or too difficult. But we're not weak. Take everything you believe in right now and turn it upside down. Change your entire thought process and do it with very little support from people who have may have never experienced what you are going through. Wipe the slate completely clean and start over. Daunting, isn't it?
Daunting but not impossible as evidenced by the fact that there are survivors. It's a fact that many of us will suffer post-traumatic stress for years and maybe will never feel completely comfortable in a church or even in our own skin....but at least we're free. Remind us of that because it is easy to slip back into thinking that we've done something wrong by leaving.
It's easy to stay where you are like Molly. In the backyard she has food and water and a nice bed and people who love her and take her for walks. She doesn't want to leave because she knows no other way. Fortunately, our love for Molly is real. But it's just as easy to feel false love and belonging in a group or relationship and feel unable to get out. But you can. You can run from the backyard and create all sorts of chaos in the neighborhood and I hope you do.