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Family Secrets

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Family Secrets:

Former members of destructive cults whose family had close relationships with the central figure or their offspring are often exposed to control of information long before escaping. Witnessing the cult's primary family out of the public eye, they are exposed to information not available to rank-and-file members of the group. Cult members with access to the leader's family often find themselves at the center of attention as other members yearn to hear more about their leader. Yet they are aware that they cannot share everything.

In many cases, cults have two sets of rules: those for the leader, and those for the members. While in the public eye, leaders and their families assume the roles of devout cult followers, embracing and supporting each rule. Out of public view, however, many of the rules do not apply. Those close to the primary family have difficulty reconciling the differences between public persona and private lifestyles. While burdened by the weight of cult requirements, they watch the primary family enjoy freedoms forbidden to others. Often, these freedoms have the added benefit of wealth and luxury.

Should the private lifestyle be made public, rank-and-file members of the cult would place less value on cult rules. Ascetic or oppressive lifestyles, which are commonly praised by destructive cults, would suddenly seem less appealing. Why abstain from entertainment, style, and other "worldly" things when the cult elite do not? Even those close to the cult leader who are being manipulated recognize the risks in making this information available. Rather than share, they conceal it.

Former members who experienced this, whether with the cult leader or their appointed officials, find it difficult to contain. After leaving, they share the hidden secrets, risking accusations of "gossip" or "bitterness". In most cases, however, they are not bitter. They want others to enjoy the same freedom that the cult elite enjoyed all along.