Suggested resources for current and former members of high-control groups who are affected by mandated shunning
Help for people leaving and other resources
Recovering from high control groups can be a complex and challenging process, particularly when individuals have experienced significant restrictions on their autonomy and personal freedom. Whether you have been in a high-control group, cult, or any situation where you felt controlled or manipulated, it's essential to seek support and resources to help with your recovery.
Here are some steps and resources to consider:
Reach out for professional help
Therapy and counselling: A licensed therapist or counsellor can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the emotional and psychological challenges of recovering from a high-control group.
Cult recovery specialists: Some therapists specialize in helping individuals recover from cults or high-control groups. They are trained to address the unique issues faced by those who have been in such situations.
Connect with support groups
Cult or high-control group recovery support groups: There are various support groups and online communities where people who have experienced similar situations can share their experiences and offer emotional support. These groups can help you realize you're not alone in your recovery journey.
Recovering from abuse support groups: Some support groups focus on recovery from abuse, which can be relevant for those who have experienced psychological, emotional, or physical abuse within high-control groups.
Many books and articles have been written about cults, high-control groups, and recovery. Some recommended books include Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan and Recovering from Religious Abuse by Jack Watts.
Steve Hassan's BITE Model of Authoritarian Control describes cults’ specific methods to recruit and maintain control over people. BITE stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control. The BITE Model should be used within the Influence Continuum Model to help determine authoritarian control.
The book Shunned: A Survival Guide by Bonnie Zieman directs its help to people who are subjected to mandated, open-ended shunning by religions, quasi-religions, cults and other extreme groups.
A formal religious disciplinary action that involves the expulsion or exclusion of an individual from a religious community, typically as a result of violating religious doctrines, rules, or moral standards.
Explore websites, forums, and blogs dedicated to cult recovery and psychological healing. Some well-known resources include the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) and the Freedom of Mind Resource Center.
Flaxenwick is a FREE online course to help former Jehovah's Witnesses heal and rebuild their lives. Consisting of 16 short audio-visual lessons with downloadable worksheets to help you journal your progress. Please note, that this video course is based on life coaching principles and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of mental health professionals.
Stronger After provides free and accessible support. Their goal is to alleviate suffering and stop the dangerous cycle of coercive control.
Reconnect with loved ones
Self-care and healing
Legal and security considerations
Patience and persistence
Recovery from high-control groups is a long-term process. Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that it may take time to fully heal and rebuild your life.
Remember that it's crucial to consult with a mental health professional who specializes in cult recovery or trauma to create a personalized plan for your recovery. Each individual's experience is unique, and a professional can help you navigate the challenges you face and work towards healing and personal growth.
Links to further resources
The Olive Leaf Network is a collection of people dedicated to supporting former members of high-demand religious groups. In particular they are experienced with supporting former members of the Exclusive Brethren (Plymouth Brethren Christian Church). They have produced a comprehensive booklet for people who are thinking of leaving a high control group. It covers all aspects of life to be considered when making the decision to leave - from family to medical and employment.
Hope Valley Counselling also specialises in providing Post-Cult Counselling (PCC) which is informed by Gillie Jenkinson’s doctoral research and the four Phases of Recovery and Growth. PCC is specifically for the therapeutic treatment of former cult members and survivors of undue influence including thought reform (brainwashing), emotional and spiritual abuse, and rape and sexual abuse, in cults. She works with those who joined and those who were born and/or raised in a cult including multi-generational members.
Faith to Faithless is a programme within Humanists UK, the national charity for the non-religious that has worked to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail since 1896. Belief in a religion is a fundamental human right and with it is the right not to believe.