from Eva St John - Monday, December 22, 2003
accessed 4458 times
There’re several different ‘types’ of personalities who join cults for different reasons. This article started out as a response to comments by ‘1984’ and others on my first article here, but as I was writing I realized it was probably going to be useful to go into more detail so as to give other SG’s further insight on how my ‘type’ of FG got involved with TF in the first place, and what on earth was going on in our heads while you guys were going through all your stuff as kids. I can’t say that my case was necessarily ‘atypical’ of other FG’s. I find I relate far more to the experiences and sentiments of a lot of SG’s on this site, for instance, than to those of other ex FG’s. (In fact, the ongoing ‘desensitized ignorance’ or ‘selective denial’ of some FG’s re the plight of the SG’s just makes my blood boil!) Perhaps because I was barely 16 when I was recruited, and could never completely give up my youthful propensity for ‘honest questioning’ (and still haven’t). Anyhow, he
Perhaps it was because I had to stand up to a lot of violent bullying as a kid and learn to ‘fight back’, I don’t know. But for whatever reason, even though I got completely brainwashed in TF by the constant control and indoctrination and was just as ‘on fire’ as others, I was also kind of an ‘involuntary conscientious objector’ – especially around the treatment of my own and other children by the leaders - and as a result spent much of my time in TF being publicly torn to shreds and scape-goated, and getting punishments such as ostracism, isolation, fasting, confession sessions, exorcisms, being repeatedly raped (fucked by leaders against my will), victors programs, etc, etc.
I also can’t say how ‘atypical’ I was as a teenage recruitee, but I can say that it’s very common for teenagers even in the System to begin to realize that what is expected of us once we hit adulthood is a kind of mindless conformity to our society’s thousands of ‘unspoken rules’, ‘expected norms’, outdated conventions, illogical beliefs and a lifetime of virtual economic enslavement to the entrenched corporate tyranny of our western economy. As you would well know, when you don’t have access to any alternatives but the life you're being forced into, it can cause a young, budding free thinker to experience an ongoing sense of underlying depression and hopelessness.
This often invisible - or secret - teenage depression is extremely prevalent amongst teenagers to varying degrees (depending on how restrictive and controlling, or dysfunctional, or abusive their living environment is), and is often what drives a young free thinker to try to escape their current environment and explore other alternatives. This is why groups of ‘alternative thinkers’ (whether they be a left wing political party, a self help group, an internet collective, a bikie gang, a terrorist organization, or a cult) are constantly springing up to ‘meet’ that need.
The problem is that a depressed teenager with no understanding or information about what they’re going through and why, and what the solution is, is extremely vulnerable to being preyed upon by those offering ‘answers’ or a place to belong. In my case, growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s in tiny, backward New Zealand, the alternatives were few and far between. Although my parents obviously and openly loved me, it somehow just didn’t make up for their own very depressed, over-stressed and dysfunctional state which naturally cascaded down to me. I was also subjected to a lot of bullying and violence, plus sexual molestation (from males outside my family) to the extent that I was so miserable I ran away from home at 15. At that age back then I knew less about life and human psychology than the average western 10 year old knows today.
Today we have so many words in our general vocabulary to describe psychological states and abusive behavior which just were not in our vocab back then. Even terms like ‘self esteem’ and ‘self assertion’ were unknown to me. (For the most part TF didn’t have any of these types of words in their vocab either, of course). They say that if a tribe does not have a word for a particular color, that color literally does not exist for them. The same goes for things we have not yet found words for, either individually or collectively. I had no words for, and therefore little or no understanding of, what I was feeling or experiencing both before and after I was recruited into TF at 16 except for Berg’s ‘explanations’ for everything. I don’t think I had even heard of the term ‘cult’ let alone knew what one was.
I had never heard words like ‘control’, ‘manipulation’, ‘indoctrination’, etc, being used in terms of human interaction. I had no idea that was what was happening to me in TF because bullying, manipulation, childhood sexualization and later sexual exploitation were what I grew up with as ‘normal life’. So when these behaviors were then legitimized and backed up by much prophetic and Biblical authority in TF as ‘wonderful, new, life-changing truth’, (even though they gave me lots of ‘trials’), I dutifully accepted it. I had never been exposed to any other information on these subjects. To be ‘uninformed’ means you don’t have access to information that could allow you to make a better decision. You can only make decisions based on the information you have at the time.
Even so - even when in my mind I was supposedly in ‘complete agreement’ with ‘the Word’ (Berg’s garbage) and was ‘on fire’ - when abuses happened, try as I might, I often couldn’t help but say something or question stuff. And for me, although I dutifully did it from time to time, FFing and ESing was soul destroying stuff. And even though my brainwashed mind ‘theoretically accepted’ Berg’s teachings on child sexuality, I could never bring myself to have sex with a minor. (However I have to say that, with TF pubs and lifestyle keeping me perpetually in an unbalanced, disturbed, vulnerable and disempowered state, and desperate for love and acceptance, had I been bullied or coerced into it like some other sisters, I sometimes wonder if I might have had a sadder story to tell in that department. But I was pretty ‘rebellious’, and the idea really grossed me out, so I don’t know).
I was almost never in a leadership position (apart from pioneer Home shepherd) because no matter how ‘good’ I tried to be I couldn’t play along with the hierarchy’s party line for long without having to bring something to their attention which I could see was wrong, but which they were refusing to see. I was also a single mother during my last several years in TF, and (minus a few exceptions to the rule) single mothers had about the same social standing as the kids did. A lot of the time they had no rights over their own children or their own bodies, and were treated like slaves. (If you want to know why we stayed, that’s a whole nother subject to cover, but the psychological description of ‘the battered wife syndrome’ comes close).
Consequently, single mothers were generally more stressed and unhappy, which would always be interpreted by the leaders as ‘murmuring’ and ‘passive rebellion’, so they were often under some form of punishment like a lot of the SG’s. And the more I experienced these things (in my uninformed and disempowered state), the more I sympathized with the SG’s going through the same or even worse stuff. I remember being ‘banished to isolation and writing confessions’ several times for standing between a child and a leader (who was about to bully or belt them) and blatantly questioning the leader’s wisdom or right to do what he was about to do. (That was the ‘heinous crime’ of ‘questioning leadership’ and ‘demonic pride’).
What hurt the most was that the more I questioned, the more my own children would get targeted for punishment and abuse. The last straw was when my son was belted across a room by my shepherd, causing my son’s head and face to become swollen, and I was not permitted to take him to get checked by a doctor. Even though I was already being ‘silenced’ and on a ‘victor’s program’, I was in a fury and wrote a long letter of protest to the higher ups (something virtually unheard of in TF at the time) saying that this was totally unacceptable.
What was the response? To make it look like they were doing something about it, the offending ‘shepherd’ got moved to another Home. They then waited a week until I had received a Social Security payment of $600 (for my new Jesus baby) and I had handed that money over to the leadership. Then they summarily excommunicated me for the ‘crime’ of being an ‘incorrigible independent thinker’ and literally put me out on the street penniless with a new baby and two little children, knowing no-one and with no place to go. Meanwhile, (unbeknownst to me at the time) the leaders knew about a ‘brother’ in the same Home who had been repeatedly sexually molesting the little girls. He just got ‘prayed with’ and remained in TF. (I don’t know his whereabouts now, but I’d sure like to!)
During my first year out of ‘drifting’ in a confused state, the leaders visited me and re-instated me as a ‘live out’ and I began to get the pubs again. This was around 1986 – 89 when the Japan Combo books were coming out and the full-on victor’s camps atrocities were happening. Fortunately my own children were spared from it all, but even so I was shocked and horrified at what I was reading. I remember one of the last interactions I had with the then Oz leaders who were visiting and staying with me. I brought them into my bedroom, shut the door and spent about 2 hours reading excerpts out of the latest pubs which were relaying what they were doing to the kids, and saying to them, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me! Please say this isn’t true. Please say you’re not really doing this to TF kids! How can you possibly believe this is going to bear good fruit?’ etc. Later, I walked in on the two of them praying together to curse me for my ‘demonic doubting’. Not long afterwards, I broke away from TF altogether. But it still took a few years of self education to even understand I had been in a cult, and to become informed and empowered enough to speak out publicly. And the fight goes on.
I hope this has been helpful. Gotta go.
Best wishes, Eva