Thought Reform?

Thought reform or mind control seems like something that only happens in a movie or a novel, but it is prevalent in our society today. One only has to look as far as the Catholic Church to find victims of spiritual abuse. While the stories of altar boys molested by priests have made headlines, countless victims are still suffering in silence. Whenever there is a power imbalance in a relationship, there is a danger that the person who holds more authority will abuse his or her power. It can occur on a large scale as with the Unification Church (the Moonies) or in smaller groups such as Heaven's Gate (39 members) or even in one-on-one relationships such as a priest and parishioner or a professor and a student. Victims of mind control are not crazy cult followers. They are people like me and you who have fallen into a trap set by a predatory leader. In my experience, the trap was built with trust and words and compassion which lured me into thinking that I was safe until it snapped down on me. Victims of mind control are robbed of time. Sometimes years or decades are lost while in the group or relationship. Victims of mind control lose family and friends. Most are told to end contact with outsiders. Many who are able to return to their families find the relationships fractured. Victims of mind control lose their identities. It's difficult to know who you are after being told by someone else how to feel, how to dress, how to act. It's one of the darkest and most frightening feelings in the world. There are very few facilities that treat these victims or therapists who are equipped to handle these cases. It makes for a long, lonely journey for these victims. Compassionate understanding and education by society is lacking. This novel is dedicated to raising awareness and giving a face to victims of mind control.

1. Every person should have the right to his or her own thoughts, ideology, and identity.

2. Thought reform does not simply exist in cults that are on the news. It can occur in one-on-one relationships and in small groups in your neighborhood

3. In any situation where there is an imbalance of power (priest/parishioner, therapist/client), there is potential for abuse.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas....or not....

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate and a happy day to those of you who do not!  Tonight I will celebrate Christmas with my family and go to mass at the church where I met Will.  I've been back a handful of times, and it gets easier every time.  I still don't like to go.  There is still fear and shame and panic, but I will go because it is important to me and my family.  It is another instance of trying to make the heart follow the head.
Holidays can be difficult for those who have been in cults or abusive and controlling relationships.  Memories abound both good and bad.  The bad memories are just bad and the good memories....well, you just kind of feel guilty for having any positive feelings about a person who treated you so cruelly....and if you look hard enough, you may find that those good memories really weren't so good after all anyway.
It is a difficult time of year, so please be kind to those who have been spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise abused.  Some may have never experienced Christmas if they were raised in an enviroment that did not observe "traditional" holidays.  Help them to not feel so out of place.  Help them not be the foreigner all alone in a foreign land.
And then there are people like me who are just still floundering and trying grow roots for a belief in God that exists but is fragile.  Going to church may be hard.  Go with us and sit next to us and don't look at us like we're crazy if we cry during the service.  Just give us a tissue and sit with us quietly because the feeling of not being alone is quite powerful and healing.
Merry Christmas to you all!
May we all find joy and peace in our lives!

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