COMING SOON:

 

What is coercion?

How does it look like in groups?

What are some examples?

How prevalent is it?

WORDS BY FORMER MEMBERS:

"No matter what I did, I was never good enough."

"They always wanted more of me. I was terrified of making mistakes."

"I thought they loved me, until I did not do exactly as I was told one day."

"I would have given my life. In a way I did and it cost me dearly."

"I changed. I started to hate all outsiders and myself."

"We were the elite, better than anyone else. We were cruel."

"I stopped feeling. I just did as I was told and stopped existing inside."

"Growing up in this, it's all I knew. There was nothing but the group."

"Leaving was so disorienting. Who was I without them?"

"They preached love and practices abuse. I was never allowed to say no."

"Boundaries? Never had any. Had to learn what those are as an adult."

DESTRUCTIVE GROUPS

It is not the belief of a group that makes it destructive to its members, but the level of isolation, fear, and pressure that individuals experience while in it. Can member`s come and go, change their minds about doctrine, have friends, family and interests outside of the group, or is it an "all-or-nothing" kind of situations, where the group demands absolute loyalty and devotion?

SIGNS OF A DESTRUCTIVE GROUP:

STRUCTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION:

Group with strong hierarchical structure, strict adherence to rules

Leader figure with prophetic claims, political extremist

OPENNESS OF THE GROUP:

Isolation and strong separation to the outside

SOCIAL LIFE, FRIENDS & FAMILY:

Ongoing contact is discouraged, minimized or forbidden

GIVING TO THE GROUP:

Paying for an overpriced course, mandatory tithing, forced labor or excessive volunteering is required

WORLDVIEW:

Division of the world into good and evil, black-and-white thinking, all-or-nothing mentality

ABSOLUTE CLAIMS:

Exclusive belief in the absolute truth of group’s own system, teaching, path, and methods; claiming the “only truth”

PROMISES OF SALVATION AND HEALING:

“Universal recipes” and simplified solutions for all problems, no checks-and-balances, unverifiable claims

VICTIM BLAMING:

If it doesn’t work, the member isn’t trying hard enough

ELITE THINKING:

The members of the group see themselves as chosen, as a spiritually evolved and superior elite of humanity

SACRIFICE:

Members are expected to sacrifice time, money and sometimes their health or life for the group’s purpose; sacrifice is hailed as a virtue
HEALTH:

Physical health problems are ignored, doctor visits discouraged, mental health problems stigmatized; those with burnout or depression seen as weak

END TIME EXPECTATION:

The end of the world or a political escalation and war are dooming

EXTERNAL INFORMATION:

No open communication to the outside, misleading propaganda, covering up of sexual abuse or other crimes

INTERNAL INFORMATION: 

Only selective information is given to members, sometimes deliberate disinformation within the group
DOUBT AND CRITICISM: 

Doubt and criticism are banned within the group; critics on the outside are ridiculed and sometimes punished

MILIEU CONTROL:

Control and monitoring of all areas of life, lack of privacy and choice

UNETHICAL METHODS:

Misleading recruitment, indoctrination, use of mind-altering methods and fear

CONTROL OVER THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS: 

By creating shame and fear, the member is manipulated; by excessively practicing relaxation techniques or violence, thoughts and feelings become controlled and sometimes an “inner leader” is constructed, replacing one’s own conscience