Cult damage can run very deep, and it can take years for some of the
damage to surface, let alone heal. Some of the more common effects are
Cults can often control relationships so strongly that if a member
leaves, he leaves behind family, friends and even his or her business.
Families can be permanently split, such as when a cult forbids a member
from following a spouse away from the group.
Wasted time, money
When a person realises they have dedicated years of their life to
a cult they can feel that they have wasted that time. They may feel
they have wasted a huge amount amount of money that they have donated
to the cult over the years. This in turn can lead to an unwillingness
to commit time, resources, and/or money to worthy activities.
It is important for former cult members to know that Jesus Christ
can use all experiences for good. It is very seldom a complete waste.
There is usually some good that people can draw from the time they
spent in a cult.
Innoculation against Christianity
Cults can innoculate people against Christianity because they have
been betrayed by the cult, and as a result of this believe no religions/churches
are trustworthy. They might think that there's no point in seeking
spiritual answers because all the cult groups that claim to have answers
are found not to. This can lead to desertion of faith.
Need for answers leading to isolation
Former cult members may feel a strong need for answers, especially
answers about how this could happen to them. Many otherwise very good
Christian churches are ill-equipped for ministry to these people because
of ignorance of what cults are like and what they can do to people.
This can lead to a strong sense of isolation in former cult members.
No one understands them or the experiences they faced.
It can take years to undo the doctrinal and theological damage done,
since cult training can be very systematic and rigorous. Methods used
may have included multiple, highly structured "Bible" studies
each week, and training not to question doctrine. This latter method
can have a run-on effect in former members because when they hear
correct doctrine that doesn't line up with their previously taught
cult doctrine they won't question it and find out why what they were
taught in the cult is wrong. Instead, over the next few days (or even
hours) their old strongly-taught cult doctrine will overpower the
new, correct doctrine and they will end up continuing to believe the
cult doctrine. This means they will believe the cult doctrine for
longer than if they were free to question everything they heard.
Other long term effects
Other long term effects include feelings of worthlessness - that
it's all they deserve to get kicked around by a cult.
Feelings of betrayal are common, as is finding it hard to trust churches
and church leaders.