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Engaging in a community can be a powerful draw for individuals seeking purpose or a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, some groups wield complete control over their members’ actions, thoughts, and emotions, fueled by extreme or perilous ideologies. In an online community forum, individuals openly shared their distressing experiences of realizing they had become entangled in a cult.
1. Contract for a Haircut
One user says her big aha moment occurred at 16 when she expressed her desire to cut her hair for the first time to her parents. Shockingly, they asked her to sign a contract in which she took full responsibility for any potential diseases or misfortunes that God may bring upon her as a result of cutting her hair.
2. Excessive Financial Demands
Many communities require financial contributions from their members. However, asking you to pour thousands of dollars into the system may raise a few questions. One person writes they realized something was wrong when their father had to pay large amounts of money only to be able to advance in the group and attend special courses.
3. No TV and Magazines
“When they tried to tell me that TV, movies and magazines were bad. I said, the only magazine I really read is Road & Track magazine so that’s not bad. Their response – “It will cause you to lust material things”. – Giving one man his moment of realization. Not surprisingly, after this conversation, he decided to leave the community.
4. Being Punished With Cancer
One woman who grew up in a religious environment explains that she has always felt that something was off. But she didn’t leave the group until the mortifying moment when an older member asked her to think about why she was being punished with cancer by God after her diagnosis.
5. The 3 Billion Year Contract
Someone says things started getting weird when the group asked them “to sign a 3 billion year contract”.
6. Rape and Sexual Assault
“Googled my cult’s name for the first time (which I thought was just the name of the church) and saw many articles about how the leader was charged for raping/sexually assaulting women.” – writes one person.
7. Attempts to Break Up Marriages
In a group, the leader attempted to split up many marriages. This is because he wanted to take the wives for himself and assign other women to the husbands. Of course, he did that without their consent. All members had to obey and “submit to the holy spirit” even if it caused them lots of pain and sadness. Luckily, the person who shared this story and her family could leave the cult before she would have been forced to marry some random guy.
8. Threat of Excommunication
Being threatened with excommunication can be a huge red flag when it comes to religious groups. One user states they recognized the group they belonged to had some extreme beliefs when they were threatened with punishment for wanting to go to university. The potential punishment involved both excommunication and disowning by their own family.
9. Being Expelled From The Cult
One user says her recognition came only after being expelled from the community. “When I got kicked out and I almost tried to kill myself. Couldn’t see myself without the cult.”
10. Time Limit and Curfew
Over several years, another user began to suspect that she might be involved in a cult. However, the big “Oh my god, I’m in a cult” moment was when her pastor imposed strict rules on her, including a time limit for being with her friends and a curfew. While on the other hand, her husband could enjoy full freedom to act as he pleased.
11. The Only Way to Heaven
A man shares that his pay stubs were tracked and when he decided to leave the church they sent “soul-savers” that warned their church was the only way into heaven.
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