How can you tell if your loved one is in a cult or controlling relationship?
While every case is unique, here are the typical warning signs:
- Radical change in personality
- Secretive, evasive, or defensive behavior
- Preaching to loved ones as though they need to be “saved”
- Spending the vast majority of their time with controlling group/individual
- Loss of contact with loved ones (in person, phone, social media…)
- Radical change in physical appearance
- Change in speech patterns, facial expressions, or mannerisms
- Giving up large amounts of money and other assets
- Seeking approval from controlling group/individual before making decisions
- Decreased sense of humor
- Lack of interest in former hobbies and friends
- Spaced out expression, glassy stare
- Judgmental attitudes towards loved ones
- Use of buzzwords and canned speeches
- Pressuring others to donate money to the controlling group/individual
- Decreased physical affection
- Self-imposed isolation
- Missing family events such as births, birthdays, baptisms, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, illnesses, funerals
- Change in political or religious beliefs
- Refusing to seek treatment for physical or mental illnesses
- New residence with strangers such as a group home or commune
- Change in sleeping habits, especially not getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- Change in eating habits, especially not getting enough protein
What can you do?
Get help before you do or say anything. Continue to act naturally. Learn before you act. Think before you speak. Adopt a “curious, yet concerned” attitude with the person you suspect is in trouble.
Don’t get hysterical in front of the individual. Don’t attack or confront. Don’t ask them if they are in a cult.
Position yourself as a possible “recruit” and try to elicit as much information as possible. Ask questions in a friendly manner and insist on getting specific answers. Don’t settle for global generalizations or evasions. Ask for any literature, but be cautious about going to meetings without getting properly prepared first.
If a group is legitimate, it will stand up to scrutiny. Members will be forthcoming with information and that information will be verified by facts. It will not pressure people to make commitments before there is complete disclosure. It will not lie nor will it use phobias to enslave new members.
Get information. Maintain contact. Try to get the person to engage with you in a process of researching the group objectively. Talk with former members, particularly former leaders if you can. Destructive cults vilify critical former members and make up stories to make them untrustworthy. While that might be the case, use your own good judgment to listen to all of the facts objectively. Make your best decision based on your experience and the information you have collected. Periodically, as new information or experiences present themselves, you might review your evaluation.
We Can Help!
Prevent years of suffering by taking action now!
We start with an initial consultation including a complete review of the situation. We listen closely to your questions and concerns. After we are sure we understand your concerns, we share our extensive knowledge and experience about what can work in your specific situation. We recommend next steps and plan future options.
As your consulting partners, we will work with you to tailor an approach that meets your needs: phone or in person, intense or deliberately paced, involving just family or also friends, with additional support staff or a simpler style.
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