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  • Writer's pictureMelissa McGrath

Surviving Cult-Like Religions

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Religious trauma that comes about through involvement with a faith based group, can be very debilitating and not unlike other forms of PTSD.

For many people, leaving can be as difficult as staying and once a decision has been made to exit a particularly controlling lifestyle, the difficulties of following through with the transition may feel overwhelming.

It is understandable, that the longer a person has been involved with a controlling religious organisation, the more difficult that transition will be. A completely new way of living, thinking and operating is a process that can't be expected to happen overnight..

So what are some of the real pressures and anxieties that can face those brave enough to exit a cult-like religious group?

* Leaving can mean recovering from the abuse of narcissists - because that is often the personality type of those 'at the top'. Those of whom everyone trusts and places their faith in unawares of their manipulation.

* Leaving and deciding upon a different pathway can be difficult due to commonly losing contact with everyone they have known and associated with. That is part of the hold over the community - knowing that many people will choose the status quo over isolation.

* The 'us and them' mentality that is common with cult-like religions has been manifested into an individuals mindset for so long, that it can cause considerable anxiety when attempting to fit in with the general population. This is especially so if the teachings have always highlighted that a mainstream lifestyle is bad and fraught with evil .... that being 'worldly' is a slippery slope.

* A lingering and self-inflicted shame and embarrassment can take place both from disappointing family members and friends by wanting to part with the community. However, these emotions are also apparent when making new friendships and possibly having to face questions on how it was that you were ever part of a cult like religion. People are understandably fascinated but that doesn't help the individual wanting to fit in.

* Self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy can be common due to possibly many years of not being encouraged to explore one's potential. It is a trait of faith based trauma (particularly females) to not have pursued dreams and career aspirations due to not either believing themselves worthy or being told there was no need.

So where now? Every individual's circumstance is different and there is no one size fits all solution. What there is however, is light at the end of the tunnel whereby you have every chance of moving forward to enjoy many rewarding years ahead. Such a recovery cannot happen quickly but you need to start somewhere and it is very difficult to do do it alone or without a 'tool box'.

Please do not hesitate to make contact and book in an initial confidential information call where you can ask questions and it can be explained how sessions based on both cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy can assist you on the path to living your best life. You might also enjoy some of the other topics within the Blog menu.

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