[Editor’s note: Here G, a former cult member – not Nxivm – describes some of her life and how she broke free from the “cult” she was once a member of.]
By G – A Former Cult Member:
From early on, within weeks, I started to question things I suspected.
I was young, naive, innocent. The cognitive dissonance was high (I didn’t know the words at the time but I do now and what they mean).
Things were kept from me. Like NXIVM, you had to work your way up by taking classes but only if your area leader vetted you, and that vetting depended on not just tithing, but abundantly sharing, bringing in new recruits by inviting them to fellowship, getting them to take the foundational class, always projecting an “up” mood, using sex – yes, sex – as a recruitment tool, living with other like-minded believers, going “WOW,” only reading, and listening to approved ministry material, etc.
Get the picture?
I did question, many times, what I suspected. I was hauled in front of leadership, chastised, beaten down, verbally attacked.
Just like in Scientology, there were “knowledge reports” though under another name. I was a sheep among wolves.
I realized, after I left, I had been “marked and avoided” aka shunned, because I wasn’t invited to ministry functions, then again, I was slowly asserting my independence by coming and going as I pleased, etc.
I was not about to do, as I saw someone else, burn ALL my bridges and be totally reliant on what crumbs they might toss me if I were a good believer in their eyes.
Poverty is a harsh mistress. I knew what it was like to sleep in my car, thus I was not about to “believe God” as they termed it, and leave everything. My safety net was me.
I believe my breaking point was when a WOW family I knew tried to set me up AKA pimp me out to a guy they were attempting to recruit. The look on my face said it all. I was horrified.
As I said, I was shunned by the group though I lived in the same house. My housemate left. My fellowship leader, and the other two believers, ignored me for the most part. My area leader, who I thought was my friend, stopped all contact with me. I moved. Alone.
No one ever contacted me from the group, ever,to this day. I was truly alone. No family, no friends. Just my job. I would go to work, come home and cry. For an entire year, I cried.
I made it through, though, as you can see
Names change, behaviors do not, and all of these groups use the same dynamics and it all comes down to power and sex. Just like NXIVM.
Oddly, about 15 years after leaving, I located the couple who were the area leader, whom I thought were my friends. We exchanged emails a few times and then the invitation came to a ministry get together.
I balked, saying I thought we were friends once upon a time, that I thought to rekindle a friendship. Her reply was cold. She said this was all she had to give me.
See nothing changed. Even though her and her husband were no longer affiliated with the founder’s group their incarnation of it was the same old shtick.
This is why I am so adamant NXIVM must not in any form be resurrected. Let it die and be buried six feet under, away from the light of day, so no one is ever hurt by it again.
By the way I do not term myself a victim. Survivor, yes, but not a victim.
I have learned to measure the good vs. the bad. Too many people have been hurt, thus NXIVM must perish.