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Cult FAQ

Cult FAQ

Disclaimer: The below information contains many generalisations and may not apply to any particular cult.

How do cults affect people after they leave?

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 listed here.

Broken relationships

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.

Theological damage

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.

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