people to follow-up. Consequently, family and friends are typically not prepared to know how to act as a support system. After an exit-counseling, former members may try to provide some support.
Cults use fear and guilt to program their members to believe that their lives are worthless outside of the group. It is hard to imagine the pain these buried psychic landmines cause when the person manages to leave. Cult experiences and indoctrination have to be worked through during an essential soul-searching recovery period, which usually takes months and sometimes years.
If the person participated in distasteful behavior—if they recruited people, were raped, became a prostitute, or stole money—it is helpful that they get ongoing counseling. Otherwise, they will spend the rest of their lives traumatized by what happened to them, or feeling guilty for what they did while a member of the group.
During the recovery period, your loved one needs to learn how to use recovery techniques in order to visualize and work with his cult identity to reclaim personal history, power, and integrity. He must acknowledge that he was doing the best he could at the time with the information that was available to him.
The SIA provides a long-term recovery process for both the cult member and members of the family. Everyone is traumatized by the cult involvement, even those who are not directly involved. Feelings get hurt. Belief systems are assaulted or shifted. People lose sleep. They get depressed. Anger, frustration, and resentment are repressed. Each person who has been involved in the traumatic experience of having a loved one in a destructive cult needs support on psychological and emotional levels.
The heightened sense of urgency that arises when a loved one joins a destructive cult provides the catalyst for truly remarkable growth, change and development. Family members, relatives, siblings and friends are willing to work hard on their own issues for the sake of their loved one. They are willing to make commitments that seem impossible under less trying circumstances. Their rewards are the many positive changes that take place as a result of working together to bring back a family member or friend lost to a cult.
Even in those circumstances where an individual does not immediately decide to leave the cult, there is basis for hope. Many key issues will have been communicated, especially those dealing with phobias, information control, and the broader issues of cult mind control. The gentleness of the repeated mini-interactions will help the relationship to become more honest, caring and compassionate setting the foundation for future interactions.