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1 July 2008updated 27 Sep 2015 2:30am

Saving your family from the Manson Family

Cult expert and exit counselor Allen Tate Wood continues his series by explaining how you can help a

By Allen Tate Wood

The family of a cult member has a tough row to hoe. Coming to terms with a member of one’s family joining a cult group is a complex and difficult task. Many find themselves asking questions like “Why has my child, husband or wife joined this group?” or “Why won’t they just snap out of it?”

The education of the family is paramount in addressing the dilemma of cult membership. The family, in order to provide the nourishment and strength necessary to turn a cult member into an ex-cult member, needs to shed the kind of polarized posture that is so common during the initial stages of involvement with the cult group. The shaming and blaming has to stop. Family members can supply invaluable aid by assuming a receptive, supportive and non-judgmental attitude, and by simply listening to cult members’ accounts of their behaviour while they were with the group.

For those families who have a child in a destructive cult, there are a host of perspectives, attitudes, postures and strategies which may variously be assumed or employed in an attempt to come to terms with the painful facts. I cannot help but formulate the problem in its general terms as a question of love. The family can see that something is obviously wrong with their son or daughter, and wants the best for him or her. The cult group, on the other hand, says the family is evil and accuses the family—and anyone with authority outside the cult—of being deceptive and self-serving in their feelings for the cult member.

Emotional tension is heightened when children, guided by their cult mentors, lash out at their parents and families, erroneously seeing them as enemies. Parents might feel as though they no longer have any influence in their children’s lives, but I believe that saving children from the thralldom of destructive cults is the right and responsibility of parents. It is an expression of their love. It can represent, in the deepest sense, a reaffirmation of a husband’s and a wife’s commitment to each other and to their children. It is a test of their love. To fight for the life of one’s child in the face of the systematic accusation of a destructive cult is one of the most challenging tasks of this age.

For further information on the subject, I highly recommend the work of my friend Steven Hassan. His two books, “Releasing the Bonds” and “Combatting Cult Mind Control” are far and away the best resources for those trying to understand this complex issue.

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