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Cults who practice "shunning" present many challenges for former cult members healing from PTSD. Having been cut off from friends and family, former members struggle to disconnect, mentally, from those who have cut them off. Like continually attempting to draw water from a dry well, they either mentally or physically continue returning to those who shunned while expecting a different result.

Some cults shun former members emotionally rather than physically, making it difficult for escapees to recognize. Instead of physically banning them, they ban them from intimate contact. When speaking with former members, their conversation seems cold and distant, often insulting. They have shunned in-depth conversation and emotional connection. Each time the former cult member attempts to engage in conversation, they feel greater anxiety and defeat. While the current cult member feels empowered by this, the former member has increased anxiety and emotional trauma. The current member is amplifying the effects of their PTSD.

Though it is difficult for former members to accept, there are some people in the cult who will never reconnect. Some of those who "shun" may have been very close, even blood relatives. Mothers and fathers often shun sons and daughters in the more destructive cults. Having been manipulated into placing more value on the central figure than their own flesh and blood, they are no longer able to overcome the programmed responses that cut ties with former members.

Former cult members are not able to heal from "shunning" until they break those connections. Some mistakenly think that they are the ones cutting ties, not realizing that those ties have already been broken. Some also mistakenly assume that those ties can never be mended, and once cut, are forever broken. Those who eventually cut ties realize that deep inside, those closest to them want to return, and will when they are able to break through cult manipulation.