The literal meaning of the term “cult” is “worship,” which comes from the Latin word “cultus.” Generally, a cult is some group that follows a particular idea or belief. Sometimes, they blindly follow a person and, the cult members are made to teach various ideologies and practices in their day-to-day life. The leader that leads the group is usually very charismatic and has great persuasion skills. They use such skills to attract new members. People don’t join cults like Shincheonji knowingly but get drawn because of some belief, culture, or ideology that they give high regard to.
Things that define a cult group
From the outside, cult groups seem normal like any other community with a common culture or belief. But only the members can differentiate if it is a community or a cult. The things that give a cult away are:
- Cults usually have a leader who leads the group. Such leaders usually dictate the followers regarding their clothing, lifestyle, beliefs, or thoughts.
- Cults promote chanting, meditation, and other psychedelic techniques that deprive one of thinking straight or asking questions.
- The leaders will discourage one from questioning beliefs and fill their mind with guilt and peer pressure.
- Such groups usually drill the followers to think that their beliefs are superior and aim to save and protect humanity.
- The cults may ask their followers to bring donations and new members. And even ask the followers to cut people out of their life if they do not follow the cult’s beliefs.
Useful tips on how to leave a cult
It can be a scary thought of leaving a community/group that felt like a family. One may have left their job and loved ones to come and stay with these people, but they don’t look back once you realize that it is time to leave. The following tips mentioned may help with moving forward.
- Pack a backpack- Prepare a bag with necessities such a water bottles, food, and clothes. Also, keep the phone and money ready. Wear comfortable shoes and wait for the right opportunity to leave.
- Prior planning- Plan a safe route and transportation to leave unnoticed. Contact any loved ones outside the cult to get transportation support and, in case of absence of kin, locate the closest shelter or police station.
- Talk to ex-members- Talking to ex-members may motivate and encourage them to execute their decision to leave the cult. Find them using social media or other connections. Read about their stories on online forums and, if there is a danger of getting caught searching, try using public computers.
- Don’t inform other cult members- There is a high probability that the other fellow followers will try to stop one from leaving. While making preparations to leave, make sure to appear normal in front of others by performing the usual activities.
- Get therapy- Contact therapists to get counseling regarding the doubt about the cult. This will help in clearing the thoughts and, one will be able to stand firm on their decision to leave. Counseling can even help with recovery to restart the outside life.
It may not be an easy decision to make but never forget why one decides to leave such a group. This does not make one a traitor. Everyone deserves to be safe, free and allowed to make their own decision and follow their thoughts.