You have rights (they were violated)



After being treated like a slave for many years, you might have started to think that there's something wrong with you. Or you might have been told there is something wrong with you, over and over, by a guru, fellow members, 30,000 year old spirit, or God.

The thing is, it's much easier to abuse somebody, objectify, and use them, when they think they deserve it. When you make them believe that they don’t have the right to:


  • be happy

  • make their own experiences

  • companionship

  • make decisions concerning their own body

  • feel what they feel

  • say "no"


After getting out of a cult, many people remember that they had rights (if you were born in a cult, you might realize this for the first time). And then feel angry, because those rights were violated. After the first (second, third, fourth, fifth,...) anger fades, you are left with the realization and pain that something was taken from you. You lack a
feeling of safety and trust.

Unfortunately, in most countries you can't press charges for psychological abuse in a cult, even though they violate universal human rights. However, if you were underage, you can press sexual abuse charges. But only for a certain number of years after the event, depending on statutes of limitations.

Sexual abuse is tricky, because you might feel that you did not clearly say no. But were you allowed to? Were you able to leave? Were you given the choice?

Another way to take some power back is to share your story. Bear witness to the wrong. It can help others who've experienced it by making it real. It can help some from joining a cult or toxic relationship. It can help you realize that it really happened.


The right to be happy


It's okay that you are out, while others remain trapped in the cult (it'd be great if they were out, but since you did not put them into the cult, it's not your fault). And there will always be people starving in some part of the world. That is horrible, and hopefully suffering will cease some day.


But it is not your fault! Really, despite what you might have been told, not everything is your fault. You are not an omnipotent being. During the recovery process you might barely have enough strength to keep yourself alive. And the fact that you are is an impressive deed, given that somebody attempted to murder your soul.


So as you keep healing, and experience happiness again, don't let guilt or shame destroy it. It's a very typical knee-jerk reaction for former cult members. The moment you feel happy, you stomp on it. Why? Because maybe somebody told you that your personal happiness didn't matter, that you should feel guilty for any pleasure. Or, maybe somebody (a nice psychopath?) decided you did not deserve to be happy. That you should only get fulfillment by giving yourself up and serving.


So go ahead, look out for yourself. It means you have a self again. That is fantastic.












Universal Declaration of Human Rights

by the United Nations 


  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief,...

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference ...

  • No one may be compelled to belong to an association.


Read all at Amnesty International