New Jersey Passes Bill to Research Predatory Alienation

New Jersey State House

I have been posting a lot of blogs recently about several sad and discouraging topics, so I’d like to share some good news! It’s an exciting development which shows the power of dedicated activists who want to help the public. Thoughtful and strategic activism pays off!

New Jersey recently approved a bipartisan bill which requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to study predatory alienation.

This bill was passed largely due to the efforts of the non-profit organization NJ Safe & Sound. (Bill Goldberg and I spoke at their panel at an ICSA conference in 2014.)

Quoting from the bill, the DCF and DHS will research: – how online predators, human traffickers, con artists, gangs, cults, and other groups use predatory alienation to isolate young adults and senior citizens from their family and friends; – the grooming practices used to target and control young adults; – the high-pressure tactics used in scams and exploitative relationships to manipulate, control, and take advantage of senior citizens; – why young adults and senior citizens are vulnerable to predatory alienation; – what young adults and senior citizens can do to protect themselves from predatory alienation; and – any other information relative to the subject matter of the study. Alienation is a common undue influence tactic. Cults, pimps, and traffickers don’t want your family and friends to help you think clearly, do research, or seek help from mental health professionals and law enforcement. The more time someone spends with friends and family, the less time they have to participate in cult activities, receive positive attention from cult members, or self-indoctrinate themselves with cult literature, music, and videos. I am so happy that New Jersey has taken a step towards a better understanding of undue influence. We need to understand it in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones and help victims recover and find justice. And I want to emphasize that this bill was a bipartisan effort sponsored by nine Democrats and seven Republicans, and signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. Thank you to everyone who participated in drafting and passing this bill!

Governor Chris Christie

The power of committed people who care and want to make the world a better place is incredible! You can do your part by contacting your local elected officials and by supporting organizations that advocate for our rights. * “Predatory alienation” refers to how cults, gangs, traffickers, and others use undue influence tactics to isolate, harm, and exploit people. “Parental alienation” usually refers to cases of divorce or separation where one parent deceptively manipulates the child in order to demonize the other parent. Important update added 2-12-18: The research team from the Center on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) of the Rutgers University School of Social Work has put their report on the VAWC site,, as well as on the website of the NJ Department of Children and Families: