As I have started sharing my story with more and more people of how I was raised in a cult and eventually finding my way out, I inevitably get asked quite a few follow-up questions.
One of the most common questions I receive, after finding out that my cult did not consist of a secluded compound where all the families lived together, is “How were you controlled if you weren’t physically being imprisoned? Why didn’t you just walk away?“
You don’t have to be physically confined to be imprisoned. There is another way — almost more devious: get your victim to imprison themselves through physiological manipulation and lies.
The cult imprisoned me with two very powerful chains: FEAR and SHAME.
Fear through the frequent telling of worst case scenario stories where the consequences for straying from any of the cult’s teachings were physical illness, financial hardships, and often death.
Shame through being told that since I was a sinful human, I was inherently evil, and I couldn’t trust my own decisions, beliefs, intuition, or dreams and desires. Instead, I needed to have a human male authority figure tell me where to live, how to spend my time, how to interpret the Bible, and who to marry, among other things.
I believe that fear and shame are two of the most powerful tools the Enemy uses against us.
Fear says you can’t take that step forward. You’ll never be free. You can’t trust your gut. You’ll never have peace. You’re not strong, smart, or capable enough.
Shame says you aren’t enough. You won’t be loved. You will never measure up. You aren’t worthy of any better. The pain you’re experiencing is your fault.
Fear and shame keep the abused spouse in the toxic marriage.
Fear and shame keep the adult child co-dependent to their parent.
Fear and shame keep the rape victim silent.
Fear and shame keep the church goer blind to the red flags when their shepherd begins to use and abuse his flock rather than serve them.
If you recognize that the chains of fear and shame have been wrapped around you, please understand exactly *who* to blame. You did not invite or ask for such brokenness to steal your freedom. Only the Enemy is capable of such a deception.
Please know that you are no longer a slave to those things, for your Father has made a safe place for you to be honest with your worries and secrets and brokenness and to eventually lie those chains down.
If you see someone else entangled by these life-draining chains, speak life and truth into them! Show them grace, patience, and kindness. Show them love. Show them a better way. Don’t simply ask them, “Why don’t you just walk away?” Help empower them with a bit of wind to help them fly!!
There is hope found in The One who has already purchased the lock to chains through the payment of blood-soaked Love.
“Fear can go to hell!
Shame can go there too!
I know Who’s I am,
God I belong to you.”
~ Prophesy Your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt