Friday, April 29, 2005

Shoshie’s Story - By Vicki Polin

Shoshie’s Story
© (2005) By Vicki Polin

One of my favorite things to do is to be in nature. Running The Awareness Center makes doing that almost impossible. Recently I’ve been committed to going somewhere that is breathtakingly beautiful at least once or twice a week. Its my way of dealing with the stress of working in the trauma field.

Because my time schedule is often different then most peoples, I've been borrowing a friend's dog to go with me when I walk in various local forest preserve.

Shoshie is a great walking partner. I think she enjoys the walks as much as I do. Sometimes during our walks we past horse farms, other times we walk by babbling brooks, with small water falls. There was one time when I went there was a herd of deers that ran right past us. It was an incredible experience.

Just imagine in the middle of a week day taking an hour or two off just to go to the middle of no where -- meaning no telephones or Internet. Its the break most of us can only dream of taking.

My friend got Shoshie at a local animal rescue. Shoshie is a relatively young dog. I think she's about two-years-old. When my friend picked her out, she was told that the animal rescue found her in the middle of a highway, and she was frightened.

On an absolutely beautiful spring day, I was walking with Shoshie. Everything was blooming, so many brilliant colors all round us. We heard birds chirping, the brook was babbling -- and then all of a sudden something very odd happened.

Shoshie and I had already walked just about 2 miles on a trail when all of a sudden she just stopped in her tracks. She wouldn't go any further. She was terrified. There was nothing ahead of us, and nothing behind us, yet she was like a deer in headlights.

I remember my friend telling me that Shoshie had a terrible fear of cars, especially trucks, yet there were none near us. Then I realized we were near the end of the trail, not far from the parking lot where my car was parked. I got very quiet and heard the sound of a few cars and trucks very faintly in the distance.

I had to ask myself why is this day any different then the other days we went walking? I knew she had the fear, yet she was always fine on the paths, and also going to and from the parking lot.

Then it dawned on me, we were on a different stretch of the path then I've taken her to before. Was there something that was familiar to Shoshie that was “freaking her out”? You have to realize that Shoshie had been traumatized. She has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, animals can react similarly to humans.

I had a serious problem on my hands. There was no way for me to pull Shoshie all the way to my car. She was wearing a harness and was known to pull out of it when she was frightened. So I decided I would try to carry her. I reached down to do so, yet she was like a young child not wanting to budge. I tried to pick her up and she became “dead weight.” I thought she weighted about sixty pounds, yet later learned she weighted ninety. I need to point out that if Shoshie stood on two feet, she is almost the same height as I am (Looking back, this could have turned out to be some sort of comedy routine).

Somehow I was able to lift her, and could walk about five feet before I had to put her down to catch my breath. I repeated this several times until I got to a place where there was a picnic bench. I thought if I could get her to rest, maybe she would fall asleep? When she woke up she wouldn't be so afraid, and I could get her the rest of the way to the car.

Shoshie was to afraid, too hyper-vigilant to be able to relax. There was no way I was going to get her to take a nap.

I was dying of thirst and knew she was too. All my water bottles were in my car. I thought about leaving Shoshie tied to the picnic table bench, yet knew she would get frightened if I left and my fear was she would get out of the harness. I was stuck. I didn't want the challenge of chasing a frightened dog in a forest preserve.

About 10 minutes later a woman came by. She walked over to tell me how beautiful Shoshie was. We started chatting, and I explained my problem to her. I forgot to mention that when the woman came by, Shoshie hide behind me. After a few minutes Shoshie’s fear of the woman subsided, and they became friends. The woman offered to hold Shoshie’s leash while I ran to get the water bottles, yet when I attempted to do that Shoshie started to panic. Again I was afraid she would get out of the harness, so I asked the woman if she could go to my car to get the water. When the woman returned Shoshie was too afraid to drink, and the woman went on her way.

About an hour had passed since Shoshie started having abreaction's. I realized there was no way to get Shoshie out of her panic state. I realized I had no other option other then trying to pick her up and carrying her the distance of about another block to my car.

I proceeded to pick up the dead weight, ninety pound dog. I would carry her as far as I could, put her down, rest, and start all over again. About another 20 minutes went by, when all of a sudden Shoshie looked at me, looked around where she was at, and just walked about a half a block straight over to my car.

I was stunned, and extremely happy Shoshie did that. I realized she was able to come back to reality. Her abreaction's to her childhood traumas subsided. Shoshie was able to re-orientate herself to time and place.

Shoshie did not have the vocabulary to tell me what was wrong, she wasn't able to talk through her fears. All Shoshie could do was tell me she was frightened. She trusted me enough not to run away, yet there was no way for her to communicate with me, except by refusing to move.

Shoshie’s behavior is not that different then many survivors of childhood abuse, prior to getting the help they need, so they could to learn to identity, process and verbalize what happened to them.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Being a Rape Survivor and Dating can be so confusing!

The following was written by a friend of mine, and I wanted to share it with you.

I was sexually assaulted by a friend a few years ago. We met at a Jewish fundraising event. We were nothing more then friends. He had been over to my home zillions of times and never made a move on me. Then one day he came over and raped me.

I've had an extremely difficult time trusting someone enough to date them. I've dated a few other Jewish guys since the assault, yet they were emotionally abusive towards me. I recently have gotten involved with a guy who's not Jewish. He's so loving and kind, yet I have mixed feelings about this relationship. I think he's someone I could see spending the rest of my life with, but he's not Jewish. Neither one of us is religious, and we figure we don't need to bring God into the picture when raising children.

I'll admit I'm getting pressure from my mom to break it off. She keeps telling me about the holocaust and that's why I need to marry someone Jewish. My mom doesn't know about the sexual assault. I would never tell her. I have such a strong aversion to dating Jewish men. HELP!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Is It Constitutional?

As many of you are aware we have at least one visitor to our blog that keeps posting the US constitution in the comments. It's obvious this individual(s) want attention. So I want to give them all the attention they deserve.

Are these individuals attempting to offer support to individuals who have been sexually victimized? Or are they posting spam in an attempt to harass us?

It's been brought to my attention that several other blogs have been visited by the individual(s) who find humor in posting the US Constitution over and over again. Many people I've spoken to believe that our spammer()s may be Yori Yanover and or Rabbi Hershy Worch.

I've been told that the blogs that have been hit by these alleged spammers include:

  1. Your Moral Leader
  2. Protocols
  3. Jewish Whistleblower
  4. The Beach of Yellow

It's interesting to note that all of these blogs address sexual violence in Jewish communities.

We do not know for sure that our spammer is Yori or Hershy, but everyone keeps suggesting it's either one or both of them. If you are the individual(s) who keeps posting the constitution, why not just let us know who you are. No reason to hide your true identity.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Passover and Inner Peace

<>I know that passover can be difficult for so many of us. It's a time of year that many of us visit "flashback city". My wish is that this year will be different for all survivors of childhood abuse, and that we will finally be able to know the peace that other's have.

Please remember that this blog is for survivors of sexual violence. You are not alone. Please feel free to use it over Passover to stay connected if you feel the need. We are all in this together. If it helps to post things through out the days please feel free to do so.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Batye Seigel's Letter to the Jewish Press

This came from The Awareness Center's daily newsletter.


To: Jewish Press
From: Batye Seigel
Date: April 12th, 2005

Dear Editor,

I was once again dismayed at the comment made in your editorial posted 4/6/05 posted in the Jewish press regarding the latest Rabbinical abuse case.

Take note that in our present judicial system, there is not disclosure of the names of the victims. It is considered highly unethical and also illegal, as seen in such high profile cases,

Michael Jackson, Koby Bryant, and the Catholic priests, to name a few.

I myself was a victim of Mordecai Tendler. I testified to the investigator of the RCA, the Rabbi's of the RCA, and some prominent and well respected Rabbi's in Monsey, NY

I also spoke with several newspapers.

While in the process of trying to obtain my get, I was consistently and repeatedly sexually harassed by this rabbi over a period of many months. At a very difficult and trying time in my life with five small children, I also had to deal with refusing his aggressive sexual advances.

After the get was obtained, I cut off all ties with him.

A while back your paper printed an editorial stating that this rabbi was not part of the Bais Din for my get. I can't possibly remember which rabbi actually signed the papers, but I can assure you that this rabbi was present and pretended to play the "supportive" role.

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I am forthright and brutally honest.

Your paper is choosing not to believe any of the women's accusations without speaking to any of us, or the rabbi's who have spoken personally with the women or the witnesses involved.

Your paper's objectivity is in serious question, being that you obtained all of your information from this rabbi's supporters, perhaps because of a personal relationship between his family and your staff.

Part of the Jewish community is intertwined with politics and the other is truly "erlich", or so it appears.

This unfortunate experience with this rabbi had a profound and devastating impact on myself and my children, being that shortly after this, I and my children went off the derech.

However, being that I was always spiritually inclined, I still have a great love and reverence for Judaism, my Creator, and the authentic and genuine people I have encountered over the years.

Batye Seigel
( Rockland County, NY)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thank you Mr. Spammer Man!

I want to thank the person who keeps posting the U.S. Constitution to our blog. If it wasn't for that individual I wouldn't know that anyone was reading what is published here. Not only is someone reading it, but they are taking the time out to harass it. I really feel honored that you seem to feel threaten by what we write.

When you are attempting to make a difference in the world (in this case give survivors of sexual violence a place to talk), and no one harasses you, you have to stop and wonder if your doing your job well?

We all should feel honored that our voices are so threatening to at least one individual that they have the need to harass us. Each and every time they post the constitution to this blog I am reminded of how important this blog is. Thank you for helping me know I'm doing the right thing by keeping this blog going.

From a marketing perspective when someone comes to the blog and sees that there are 20 - 30 comments to each posting. It makes it appear like we are extremely popular. Then when you read the postings are mostly from a spammer, you have to really read the content of the blog.

Our spammer is helping the world to see how important it is to give survivors of sexual violence an outlet to speak out. You are providing the evidence we needed, that our voices are have not been heard in the past, and one of the reasons was because we where threatened into silence. It's not going to work anymore.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There are days I just need to cry

There are days I just want to scream and cry, and want someone to hear me. I don't want anyone to fix me. I don't want someone to give me advice. I just need someone to witness my pain.

Cleaning for Passover is putting me over the edge. It's not the manual labor that's getting me. It's the flashback of years gone by. As I clean out the refrigerator I hear my mother and father screaming in the background. The tension is mounting, I know it's only time before my father explodes and I'm beaten and raped. I know what is playing in my head is from years ago. The thought of another seder makes it as real as if it's happening right now.

I'm scrubbing the floors, and vacuuming my home looking everywhere for that "dear ole chometz".

I wonder to myself as many other survivors must wonder, what purpose does this all have? Will ridding my home of chometz make me a better person? Will it rid me of my memories? Will it make my life better? I ask myself the same questions when I think of sitting for hours at the seder. I feel just as Mara does.

Why is this night any different then any other night?
On this night I'm an adult, my father will no longer rape me physically, but he still assaults me in my dreams.

Why do we eat only matzoh on Passover?
On this night I am an adult, I can choose to eat matzoh or chometz. I will not be held down by my parents to be force fed foods I don't want.

Why do we eat bitter herbs, marror at our seder?
Marror reminds me of the bitter and cruel actions of parents who are abusive. We were slaves to our families. Today we are free, we are adults.

Why do we dip our foods twice tonight?
We dip the bitter herbs into Charoset to remind us how hard we worked as children avoiding another beating or sexual assault. The chopped apples and nuts look like clay used to make the bricks we used to build a wall of dissociation used to anesthetize ourselves from feeling pain.

We dip parsley into salt water. The parsley reminds us of the hope we had as children, that someday the abuse would end. That we would someday have a family, and be non-abusive parents to our own children. The salt water reminds us of the tears of our childhood, and that we must never forget how our parents behaved so we don't repeat their actions.

Why do we lean on a pillow tonight?
We lean on a pillow to be relaxed comfortable and remind us that we no longer have to sleep with our offenders. At one time we didn't have that choice, but tonight we do.

Monday, April 18, 2005


The holiday of Pesach feels stifling to me. So much to do before hand, must get rid of all the chometz, clean, etc. The seder is the worst part. Having to sit around the table like a mummy for hours and hours and listen to dull speaches about how the jews were enslaved and then freed. It's so unmeaningful to me at this stage of my life. It doesn't make sense anymore. I am probably the son who is unable to ask. I am just so clogged up with grief and confusion that I have no words anymore.

I have a new boyfriend and he's not religious. We talk about religion and he says it was all made up by people. Those in charge wanted the masses to follow their command so they made up that there is a mystical power overseeing everything. That's what he believes. I used to believe in god but I don't know what I believe in anymore. I believe god created the world. I am not sure though about lots of other stuff in judaism.

The fact that my offenders and so many other offenders and their supporters are practicing jews colors my entire experience of judaism and makes me want to move as far away from it as possible.

Maybe I'll become a buddhist.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Rating Your Psychotherapist

I thought this was an interesting article. Please follow the link to read the whole thing.
Rating your Psychotherapist

I guess you can do the same thing with your rabbi, especially if he's counseling you in any way.

Snowflakes and Survivors of Sexual Violence

Snowflakes are some of nature's most fragile things --
but look what they can do when the stick together

-- Author Unknown

Friday, April 15, 2005

A Healing Place For Survivors

I am so sorry that hatred has been written in our space for healing. It's sad that not even in a blog for survivors can we find a respite from offenders and those who support them.

The Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out blog will NOT shut down, we will continue on no matter what. I do want to mention that the hate will be wiped out. The owner of this blog will not tolerate it. So please if more is posted just ignore it. Don't argue with them. That's what they want. I check the blog a few times a day. When I see crap posted it will be deleted. Please remember when offenders and their supporters write on here their sickness is exposed to the world. Everyone can read the evil in their words. Don't worry we have an antibiotic called a delete button. It works very well.

This blog is a place for healing. If you are an offender or a supporter of an offender please create your own space to discuss you're issues. This blog is NOT for you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Survivors of Mordecai Tendler Please Speak Out!

Survivors of Mordecai Tendler Please Speak Out!

I'm hoping that all of the survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler (alleged sex offender) will take the time out and let us know how you are doing?

Please let us know what more we can do to help you! We want to show you all the support we can.

If you are one of the many individuals who were manipulated in having sex with this alleged sex offender you can post anything anonymously. This space is set up for you. We want you to know that we believe you, and want to help.

If you are here to harass the survivors, please know that your postings will be deleted and may turned over to law enforcement.

New Statement from the RCA on Mordecai Tendler

Statement in the Matter of the Investigation ofRabbi Mordecai Tendler
by the Rabbinical Council of America

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

For more information on this case:

In regard to The Rabbinical Council of America investigation and expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, the RCA determined that it would not issue any public statement beyond the formal findings of the Vaad and the Executive Committee. However, in light of a concerted campaign to mischaracterize, misrepresent, and distort both the process and its outcome, as well as to demean the eminent and distinguished rabbis who were part of the process, the RCA has elected to make the following statement:

1. The year long investigation took that extended time because the Vaad Hakavod made every effort to follow all the relevant halachic, legal, as well as moral, guidelines and laws, both as regards procedure and substance. The investigation benefited from the advice and guidance of recognized and respected experts in halachah, American law, and psychology. The findings were based on the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, both on the telephone and in person, and both by outside investigators and members of the Vaad itself. Accordingly, we stand by both the procedural fairness of the proceedings and, equally important, the substantive result reached by us.

2. The investigation was not, and never purported to be, in the nature of a Beit Din proceeding. The RCA constitution calls for a panel of peers to review the activities of a rabbi accused of misbehavior. This is called a Beis Din Hakavod, or a Vaad Hakavod, which has always been understood as referring to an administrative process, not a Beit Din proceeding. This was made clear throughout to the accused and his counsel. As mandated by our constitution, it was an administrative proceeding of a religious organization, entitled to determine in a manner it chooses, who is and who is not fit to be a member.

3. The accused was given repeated opportunities prior to the issuance of the decision to respond to the charges as shared with him, as well as to appear in an appropriate hearing and face his accusers. However he, through his legal counsel, as well as through his wife, clearly and unambiguously turned down in writing such invitations to appear before the Vaad Hakavod. He requested instead that we rely on his written submissions, which we did, in addition to statements made by him in an interview by an independent investigator commissioned by the Vaad Hakavod. Only after the decision was communicated to him, did he offer to appear before the Vaad Hakavod.

4. Any claims or statements to the contrary, be they from rabbis in America or Israel, legal counsel, publicists, journalists, family members, or others, are based on either willful denial of fact or on ignorance resulting from one-sided representations.

Eric Dorfner BBYO Counselor/Convicted Sex Offender Sentanced

Former counselor sentenced to five years in prison
Burlington Times - April 9, 2005

MOUNT HOLLY - A former youth counselor was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday for inappropriately touching a teenage boy while they were in the hot tub of his home and sending child pornography via the Internet.

Eric Dorfner, 42, of Wagon Wheel Court in Evesham pleaded guilty in December to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Dorfner declined to comment when asked by Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Smith Jr. if he had anything to say before he was sentenced.

Dorfner was charged in October 2003 with sexually assaulting two boys, but he pleaded guilty to charges involving only one victim as part of his plea agreement.

Both victims, now adults, told Smith yesterday their lives have been irrevocably changed by the assaults
They said they have experienced nightmares, taken illegal drugs and had to undergo counseling.
"He's changed my life forever in a negative way," one told the judge.

When Dorfner pleaded guilty, he admitted to touching one of the victims on one occasion between March 1997 and March 1999.

Dorfner met the boy while he was a youth counselor at the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, Woodcrest Chapter, based at Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, authorities said.

He had been a volunteer counselor with B'nai B'rith for about eight years before resigning in May 2003.
Dorfner also admitted when he pleaded guilty that he used his personal computer to transmit child pornography to what turned out to be an undercover FBI agent in March 2003.

Authorities said the pornography did not involve either of the victims who Dorfner was originally charged with assaulting.

After he is released from prison, Dorfner must comply with all provisions of Megan's Law.

He must submit a DNA sample for inclusion in a database of sex offenders. He also will have to register with police, and he will be subject to community supervision for the rest of his life.

In exchange for his plea agreement, multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact and sexual assault filed against Dorfner were dismissed yesterday.

Meanwhile, the victims are seeking unspecified damages from Dorfner in civil lawsuits.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Telling Hurts

Secrets are hollow eyed shame filled ghosts
leaving me at the edge of the world doubting.
Why me?
Why not me?
What does it matter?
But it does.
Real life consequences generations old
leak through the once water proof silence.
Old and new torments mix
like fresh and stale nuts
who's hard shells finally splinter.
Telling hurts.
I long for a way back.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Incest: Is it more then just a Family Affair?

It's been many years since I've seen my family.

In my dreams we have a happy and healthy relationship.

The problem is that when I wake up the reality is there.

My family is toxic. I'm sure that's not their intention. They say things to me that make me believe they wish I was dead. I always think about suicide after a visit with them. At least I've had a great deal of therapy that has helped me to separate out their stuff from mine.

Why would I still want to be near them? I long for my mom to hug me. I long for one of the long intellectual conversations I would have with my dad. I miss all of my siblings, the fun things we would do together or reminiscing about silly things.

I remember a friend who is a therapist telling me that the most severely abused child will only want to go back home, even if it means they are raped and tortured. Home is what is normal to them. Who wouldn't want what you know as normal?

On my parents and siblings birthdays I long to see them. I long to go out to dinner with them, sing happy birthday, and watch them blow out the candles on their cake. How I would love to be with my mother on Mother's Day, and my father on Father's Day. It's gotten to the point that it's too toxic to call them to do that. It's just so sad and painful.

When someone in my family has a crisis their lives I want to be there. I want to hold their hand if they are hospitalized before and after surgery.

When someone in my family gets married or has a child, I want to be there too. I'm absent for bar and bat mitzvahs too.

In my dreams I am there. I get to sing and dance with them. We have the most loving, caring relationships. Then I wake up to the reality of my life, the reality of my childhood. Years ago I had dreams that we could work it all out, and have that happy healthy family. The problem is my family would also have to want it, and they don't.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I'm tired, what more can I say?

I'm tired of my community's denial that sexual abuse and sexual assault doesn't happen.

I'm tired of the cover-ups and the blaming. Please stop covering up cases of abuse. Please stop blaming survivors for coming forward.

I'm tired of everyone thinking they know what's best for me or other survivors, without asking us what we think. Please stop telling us what to do. I don't mind you offering me suggestions if you have experience working with survivors. If you don't just listen and let me bear witness to my life experiences. Don't try to fix me. I'm NOT broken.

I'm tired of organizations for women who turn their backs on those who need them most. How can JOFA support Tendler over his survivors? What are they thinking?

I'm tired of knowing that if I trust a rabbi and share my life history with him or her, the odds are they will see me as being mentally ill. Their denial is putting more children at risk. Their denial is creating an atmosphere that is allowing more people to be sexually violated. It scares me. I don't want to be hurt again. I don't want to trust another rabbi to end up being manipulated into thinking he loves me, and then rape me.

I'm tired of being told that because I was fucked by my father as a child that I have no credibility.

I'm tired of knowing that if when I tell people that I was abused as a child, that more people will come tell me they were abused too. The reason why this bother's me is that it's only survivors who will listen to other survivors and believe them.

I just wish that Jewish communities around the world would pull their heads out of the sand already. I wish that our community leaders would stop and listen. I wish they would care, and stop playing the stupid political games they are playing.

Monday, April 04, 2005

"When to Believe a Child's Word."

The following information came off the comment section of the Jewish Whistleblower Blog:

From: Vicki Polin

I think it's important that prior to discussing Richard Gardner's PAS theory that everyone watches a copy of the ABC News Nightline report from 11/14/96."When to Believe a Child's Word."

If you are unable to obtain a copy, come to Baltimore and I can arrange for you to watch my copy.

When asked Gardner attested to the fact that no one has scientifyly tested his theories, not even he.

During this airing Richard Gardner, is shown saying the following:

"If it sounds incredible it's probably not true."

"In extreme cases, children who are sexually abused become like street-smart sluts."

"I believe that children who are false accusers are going to have a higher incidence of reading mystery stories."

I have to agree, this is junk science.

Not sure if this is the same show, since they changed the title.

Code: U961114 01
Price: $39.95

Description: WHEN CHILDREN ACCUSE: WHO TO BELIEVE Child sex abuse is a very serious problem. In 1994 alone 140,000 new cases were investigated and found to be real. But are innocent people being sentenced for crimes they never committed because of the testimony of the young?

Tell A Friend

I was hoping everyone who reads this blog would take time out and tell at least one friend about this blog. Remember what the statistics are on survivors of sexual abuse and assault. We need help getting the word out that this blog is here.

Though we aren't at a conference with a microphone in front of us, this blog is a place for survivors of sexual violence to speak their minds. What kinds of things do you think we should talk about? What do you think needs to be addressed?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

To Survivors of Rabbinical Misconduct AND Those Who Are Still Supporting Abusive Rabbis

Getting Better
by Kathy Ward

Recovery from spiritual abuse and cultic thinking is like recovery from a lot of damaging things in life. It's hard to do it alone and there are many things that are helpful along the way.

  • Find someone to talk to who understands.

  • Work on not judging yourself - no one sets out to become a member of a cult, a person who others can guilt-manipulate. We join with these groups because we think that we're going to learn about God, find ways to serve God and our fellow man. we join for reasons that are not bad.

  • It's okay that you see good things about the cult. Just as it's hard to find people who are totally 100 percent malignant, few cults or abusive religious systems are 100 percent in the wrong. It's okay to acknowledge that there are wonderful people there or that something good was there. It's okay to sit down and figure out any good things that have come into your life from the cult.

  • Understand that your cult experience was a stage in your development as a spiritual person. You are going to grow from here.

  • Don't be afraid to seek counseling outside of the cult parameters. Religious, don't be afraid to go to a respectful nonReligious counselor. There are organizations who have lists of counselors (Religious and non) who are well-versed in recovery from restrictive, cultic religious systems.

  • Find and be around people who will support you, not condemn you, in exploring the world outside of the cult. If you want to examine other belief systems, philosophies, ways of thinking find supportive people to back you up.

  • Expect to have BIG doubts from time to time. Relapses. Thoughts about going back to the cult. We all do. It's normal. It gets better with time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time - but it does get better. It's lonely on the outside. When shunning or other forms of punitive behavior is manifested toward you it can be almost unbearable. We all go through it. This is why having someone to talk to who understands can help.

  • Expect to feel lost sometimes, like you're between two worlds.

  • "Without the unequivocal pronouncements that once guided them, former members of restrictive groups are apt to feel lost and confused. In any transition, there is usually a period of time between the collapse of old beliefs and their replacement by a new set of guiding principles. Kuhn's (1970) account of the disorientation that occurs when a scientific viewpoint once thought to be definitive fails to fit emergent facts can be applied to the similar confusion that comes with shifts in religious belief. Bridge's (1980) concept of an "empty" middle phase as a stage in any transition can also be helpful in normalizing the ex-believer's sense of confusion and inner emptiness as a natural part of the process of moving beyond outmoded views about self and the world."

  • Psychological Issues of Former Members of Restrictive Religious Groups by Jim Moyers, MA, MFCC

  • Realize that you may be depressed sometimes. There is a grieving process going on here. You've lost big chunks of your life and although you're going to be moving into some new, exciting, even exhilarating territory, you're going to also be grieving for some of the things you've left behind. Take care of yourself and don't forget about the things that help depression, like a healthy diet, enough and regular exercise (even a daily walk), getting out and doing things that you enjoy, indulge yourself, make opportunities to visit with friendly, supportive people. If it begins to feel like too much - tell someone you trust - get some help!

  • Remember that your feelings are just that - your feelings. They aren't evil or sinful. Because you feel something doesn't mean that you're going to act on it. Feelings are okay.

  • If there was a time before the cult when you had a creative interest or enjoyed reading, art, music, or any kind of hobby or pursuit that you left behind - take the time to enjoy it again. There's healing for the soul in these places.