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Update on AFF Conference and Our Presentations

from Jules - Saturday, June 21, 2003
accessed 1208 times

AFF Conference: Cults and NRMs.

Orange, CA, June 2003-06-21

Daniel (Albatross) and I attended conference this at the invite of academic Dr. Stephen Kent from the Sociology Department at the University of Alberta. It was a very exciting and empowering experience.

Dr. Kent was presenting a paper on the “Second Generation Revolt” which outlined the discontent that has been growing for many years among those born into The Family. Some underlying causes were presented and the timeline from the Europe Revolt of the early 90’s to the continuing struggle the Family has had to keep control of their young people.

I presented on my experiences with this website, the text of which can be found at the link below:

Daniel then presented on the Vandari and the Family’s response to people who have demanded accountability for the “mistakes made”. He was very articulate and passionate, and his presentation was extremely impressive. The text of his presentation can be found here:

We then had about half an hour for questions and answers from the audience, which we took directly from them. The discussion was very lively and it was interesting to be able to touch on some other topics. The issue of accuracy of information was raised, and how the Family has successfully duped many academics through their media homes and slick presentations. The topic of the importance of truthfulness on both sides was also discussed, and that being accurate in things that would be construed by the group as negative is equally as important. Also discussed was the fact that the older generation must take responsibility for their actions, and when our parents do this, either in or out, it is the only way to repair the damage in the relationships.

Massimo Introvigne (a long time apologetic supporter of The Family) was in the audience, but Marc and Claire, The Family’s North American spokespeople, interestingly enough, were not. There were about 250 attendees at the conference, who were a mixture of academics, researchers, therapists, social workers, current and former members from various groups and exit counsellors.

There were perhaps 20 other people who had grown up in NRMs there, and it was very interesting to talk with them. We had conversations with many of them throughout that day and the next regarding their own experiences and how excited they were that we were able to actually do something positive, and how they wanted to get involved. They were very impressed with what they called our empowerment and mobility. I will be in touch with some of them in the near future in regards to duplicating MovingOn and setting it up for their own communities.

What was striking is that we did not come there as victims. I have spoken to the media before about my life in the Family, and it has always been difficult, and feels like a violation to some extent. There is always a sense of pity and the assumption that because of my past I am “damaged goods”. Here we were able to talk about what we are doing now and how we are moving on and building something, and how we have taken back control of our lives.

Throughout the rest of the conference people came to us to congratulate us on our presentations and what we are doing. The response and support was really overwhelming. There were many academics and professionals that approached me about being involved in Safe Passage Foundation. People also said that the issue of the second generation is one that has not been researched almost at all, and this is something that they wanted very much to get involved with themselves.

On the evening of June 13th, there was a private session with the other people born into NRMs. I was able to attend this, and it was a very intense experience. People talked openly about the issues they faced and struggled with and the similarities really were amazing. Although the groups were different, the issues seemed to be the same. I could relate so well to what other people said. All in all it was an incredible experience to be able to attend this conference and to meet and dialogue with the people there. The point was definitely made that we are not going anywhere and this issue is not one that is going away. To be able to connect and work with these professionals, academics and other SGs is something that I would love to see happen in the near future.

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