by Jon Atack
Strength & Wisdom From a Manipulative Experience
Surviving & thriving a traumatic experience, once fully digested and understood, often brings strength & even wisdom to the life of the victim.
Leaving Can Be Traumatic
Leaving an abusive cult or relationship is usually traumatic. We often feel ashamed that we were taken in, so lose trust in our own decisions. But the truth is that almost anyone can be taken in, because we are sociable creatures, and want to belong.
It is important to understand the social dynamics that make us vulnerable: only predatory people are immune to social influence; the rest of us are likely to follow the usual cues and simply join in. Restraint isn’t inborn: it has to be learned.
While much of our compliance is normal social behavior, we often join a group or relationship, because we felt elevated by an experience of awe. It can be hard to let go of the elation we felt at the beginning, but often that elation was manipulated, whether by the flattery of love-bombing, or through a particular exercise or meditation which induced a peak experience.
Take Back Your Life
To recover is to take back control of your own life. The process can be daunting and there can be many set-backs, but, in time, recovery is liberating. As the abusive experience is properly digested, the imperative to serve a group or predator dissipates. You can choose how to spend your free time and who you spend that time with.
Survivors of toxic groups and relationships often learn humility: they have better judgment, because they know they are not infallible; they are less impulsive, so take their time before making decisions; and they can use the skills they learned in the group or relationship to help others.
Don’t Reject Your Skills
There is no need to reject any of the skills or knowledge you acquired while in an abusive group or relationship, only the idea that they were the gift of the group or predator: you have earned the right to your experiences, and to any benefit from them. You can use your insights for the good of society, rather than to serve the needs of a predator.
Surviving & Thriving
Survivors can take the motivation they learned in the group and put it to new uses. Former members of high-demand groups and toxic relationships have used their skills to excel in business, in sports, and in the arts. We can share our hard-won understanding with the world, making it a safer and better place.
If you have survived an abusive situation and grown to be a better person for it, please let us know; we love to hear from people who are surviving & thriving!