I’ve recently read three excellent memoirs of people who left toxic religious cultures.
They were from different groups, but the groups had these things in common:
Authoritarian Leadership – The leader exercised control over them. They were expected to submit, even if they didn’t agree. Unquestioning obedience was necessary.
Shame and Guilt – They were shamed and were made to feel guilty for “not measuring up.”
Fear and Intimidation – They were told something bad would happen to them if they left the group.
Exclusivism – They were told that their group alone had the truth.
Isolationism – They were encouraged to “separate themselves” from anyone who was not a member of their group. All of their friends were in the group.
Opposition to Independent Thinking – They were not allowed to think independently. They had to adopt the group’s beliefs and had to submit to the rules to belong and to be accepted.
Fear of Being “Shunned” – They were “kicked out” and “shunned” if they questioned anything.
If you choose to leave a group that has any of these characteristics, you may feel like everything you believed is coming into question. Your whole world may feel like it is being turned upside down.
The good news is that you aren’t alone! You can recover your life and live a life of joy and peace.