There certainly are many online forums where you can go and talk with others about your experiences. It helps to know you’re not alone and to hear about the experiences of other people provides some validation for what you’ve been through. I have participated in many online groups over the years and have found many that were very productive and supportive and then there have been some that ended up furthering the damage I had already suffered. Thankfully, I know certified counselors who have helped walk me through various tragedies I have been through, but not everyone has certified counselors as friends.
I do not recommend using ONLY online forums for help when you have suffered from trauma of any kind. I also do not recommend that you speak to clergy (pastors, bishops etc) unless they are certified as trauma counselors. Some Christians have asked about secular counselors and expressed their concern about that since many cults openly refute going outside the church for counseling much less a secular counselor. Since religion has the track record of having trauma issues with victims of various abuses, I hesitate having counseling within their systems while you are vulnerable.
A victim of trauma, whether it’s physical, sexual, or spiritual, can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I recommend that victims find a counselor who is certified in PTSD, relationships, and spirituality to help you.
In addition to talking to a counselor, I recommend that you do not attempt to attack your oppressor/abuser in any way whatsoever. Do not attempt to contact them, do not follow them on the Internet, and only contact the government authorities when there is physical or sexual abuse, or if you are being harassed by repeated and excessive unsolicited phone calls, mail, or the visits to your home or work place.
When you decide to join a support group, select one that has certified counselors there to moderate so you can be protected as you begin to share your story. If you’re seeing a counselor on your own, I would ask for recommendations from them to make sure you are in a legitimate support group. Many times the online forums are mainly other victims who may not be equipped to handle moderating such a sensitive group of victims. Use caution before sharing private information with them.
If you decide to blog your journey out, talk to an attorney first so you know what you can and can’t say in public., Anything you post on your blog can be potentially used against you and incite hostility among the group’s loyal members and that could backfire on you and your family. Consider using a pseudonym and avoid naming the abuser and the church name or it’s address. You can specify which movement you came out of, but avoid using a broad brush to accuse them all of such abuses. You can disagree with their church politics system and doctrines, explain how you feel the teachings are mentally, emotionally, or spiritually abusive. Your story is more likely to be listened to if you are as tactful and respectful as possible in what you’re writing.
Discussions on Facebook or other social networks can be tricky and you want to make sure your account is as private as possible to avoid hate mail or false friend requests from people posing as mutual friends of people you might know. Hostile cult members might stalk you online to read what you’re saying and that will only provoke them to be more aggressive. NEVER share information about an ongoing, unsettled case.
I began blogging about my journey a while ago, but only recently mentioned the denomination due to the fact that it ended up on 20/20. But I am careful not to name which specific church I am from. The only people who will know are those from my area who happen to find my blog and connect the dots. I do not share information that can be viewed as slander or that would incriminate those in that group. I do share the teachings and how they conduct their church politics with my disagreement on those issues. The only situations that were specific, that I shared, were situations that happened publicly and what is already on the county’s public Superior Court website.
I recently joined a cult “support” group on Facebook only to discover that the leader was provoking these tender, wounded victims to call all their local law enforcement, District Attorney’s, and social services to make generalized reports against the entire church movement. This is so grossly beyond unwise that I am shaking my head. No victim who is under this kind of duress should EVER be told and provoked to get involved in trying to be a vigilante to take the law into their own hands. A real support leader who wants to pursue a legal matter would hire a lawyer and an investigative team to handle these kinds of issues. If anyone ever puts you in a position to attempt to handle legal matters on your own, USE CAUTION and consider leaving the group so you won’t be taken advantage of.
Many times victims are passionate about informing others about false doctrines and potentially put them in dangerous positions. Sometimes that passion can manifest in ways and with words that could actually hinder their cause, rather than help them. Their best course of action is to hire lawyers and let them handle it professionally.
Raising awareness to an issue that you feel is needed in our society should be done professionally and as peacefully as possible. Consult a lawyer, or another Awareness Campaign Manager that has a good reputation in their own causes, for guidelines to help make your campaign a powerful one that is respected by the listening and watching audience.
If you have any questions let me know.
*Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer. I am, however, a certified PTSD counselor, Addictions and Recovery Counselor, Assistant to an Interventionist, and have 17 years experience in spiritual matters and abusive relationships through ministry.
If you have questions about legal matters I recommend you call a lawyer. Many lawyers will meet with you for free for a consultation.